November 19, 2017 at 3:07 am #4257
Hello. New user, been lurking on the internet a fair while and staying off forums for…shall we say, reasons?
Anyway, with The Last Jedi coming up I thought I’d share something with you guys that I also put up on reddit (link below) –
Snoke’s Theme Analyzed Again
Snoke’s theme is supposedly a Sanskrit translation of a Rudyard Kipling poem sung by a 24-man choir, and other speculators and theorists have pointed out how it is near-identical to the theme that plays when Palpatine tells Anakin about the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise.
The Darth Plagueis theme doesn’t seem to have lyrics, and the Snoke theme does but the lyrics are nearly incomprehensible. My Sanskrit is high school level, far from enough to be truly fluent in that language but enough to know how its grammar works and how to translate things, and the lyrics had been throwing me off forever.
Sanskrit is an old language, and it’s a syllable-heavy language that is, simply put, complicated. Like, Latin or Greek complicated, only even more so. To translate a full Rudyard Kipling poem to Sanskrit and then have it sung so low and slow and stretched out in about 2 minutes would be impossible. The alternative was that Snoke’s theme was a selection of words or sentences or phrases from a poem rather than a full poem. Which one has been debated before, and although a few have been brought up as possible candidates, none of them really seemed satisfactory – either in terms of theme or what lyrics I could here.
I rewatched the conversation between Palpatine and Anakin with Plagueis’s theme playing in the background. When Palpatine talked about how “he could save others from death, but not himself”, I realized that the music wasn’t just about “Darth Plagueis the wise” but about the thing that Plagueis tried to avert for others, death. It’s mastery over death that matters here, and that’s what “Palpatine’s teachings” were about.
One of the first hits when I searched for poems by Rudyard Kipling involving death was the one below, written a century ago during the height of the First World War when Kaiser Wilhelm II was rumored (wrongly) to be dying of throat cancer. Kipling, who hated the Kaiser, wrote the poem below about him – https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/a-death-bed/
Thematically, this poem immediately struck me as perfect for Snoke. “The State Exists for the State Alone” and “This is the State Above the Law” fit the First Order to a T. The latin phrase “Regis suprema voluntas Lex” translates into “The will of the King is the supreme law”. What would better fit the Supreme Leader of the First Order, whose very flagship is named the Supremacy? Snoke does have a throat injury, after all, since his model shows that his throat has some big gaping holes in it! Finally, the poem talks about the Kaiser dying. Combining the death theme with “He could save others from death but not himself…” it really couldn’t be better fitting!
Or…is it? I looked at previous attempts at analyzing the poem but I couldn’t find anything else that looked as promising. I turned to the Snoke theme itself. It’s a pain, what with being so low and slow. I’d heard this one a dozen times over but could barely make sense. This time, with a poem that might match, I tried again. Snoke’s Theme (Youtube, movie variant)
And then I went to this website to look up potential word matches –Spoken Sanskrit online. The first few syllables are pretty hard for me to pick up, and I’ve been trying to make sense of it since the Force Awakens released. It sounds like it starts off as “para…” which in combination with “ma” would form “parama” or “supreme”. The word after that sounds like “Rajnaya” – “Of the king”. So it could be “Supreme (something) of the king”.
Further on, I heard “Shama” and “Dhuma” or “Dhyuma” (these are the loudest and clearest lyrics). “Shamayati” is “to shout’ and “Dhyuma” is “smoke” (cognate with the Latin fumus, or “fume”), followed by “mahrum” or “mahruk” which sounds like a clipped off “Maruka”, “to die or perish”. And one of the lines in the Kipling poem is quite literally “Some die shouting in gas or fire”. Further on, I thought I heard the word “saravat” or “strong, hard” repeated twice…but given the way they’re singing it’s impossible for me to figure out for certain if that’s what it is. I’ve also tried matching for the other phrases in the poem, again inconclusive.
This is as far as I can go with what little I can hear. However, based on what I’ve heard, I think Snoke’s theme is most likely a translation of some of the phrases from Rudyard Kipling’s “The Death Bed”, but not the full poem. Like I mentioned at the start of this post, Sanskrit is simply too highly inflected and syllable-heavy for Snoke’s brief theme to be a full translation.
Our sitemaster – to call him by his handle here, Emperor Palpatine – has brought up the possibility of Snoke being a kind of “Force Vampire”. The Kaiser in this poem is clinging on to life even though he’s dying of throat cancer (Historical aside, in real life he had no cancer and lived into the 1940s.) To go with Palpatine’s theory, I would suggest that this poem meshes with the idea of Snoke being a creature who has clung through life as a vampiric being, living in a state of near-death by drawing off the life of others. The Kaiser here, after all, is portrayed as a tyrant willing to ask for men to die or be smashed for his sake even as he is speechless and on the verge of death: as close to a vampire as a living human can be. The Kipling poem might also hint at some kind of tragedy in Snoke’s backstory, whether real or imagined, that sent him down his path to darkness –
“The war was forced on me by my foes.
All that I sought was the right to live.”
Thoughts about this?November 19, 2017 at 9:33 pm #4267Emperor Palpatine (Site Owner)Keymaster
That’s some serious investigating right there. Impressive. Most impressive.November 19, 2017 at 11:55 pm #4268
*Bows to the Emperor* I am honored, your Highness.
On a more serious note, I’ve been looking about the internet for quite a while and neither Lucasfilm nor John Williams seem to have said anything more about Snoke’s theme apart from “It’s a Rudyard Kipling song translated into Sanskrit and sung by a 24-man choir”, which is strangely nonspecific compared to the use of other Sanskrit compositions on Star Wars. They could’ve just identified “The Death Bed” and let the matter go to rest (no pun intended). After all, the Duel of the Fates and the Funeral Chanting have had their origins explained and their meaning made clear. I guess it means the content of this poem really is a spoiler for Snoke’s history and character in ways that have yet to be made entirely clear.November 20, 2017 at 1:25 am #4269
I’ve got some follow-up additions from a sped-up version of Snoke’s theme. This is as far as I can get without some way of enhancing the audio to make the lyrics clearer and more distinct.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnCsqnrL644&t=1m06s There’s this phrase at 1:06 – 1:16 where the word “Saravatta” is repeated. It’s the only clear word in that sentence. I’d previously translated it as “strong, hard”, but it turns out that another meaning is – get this – FORCE. As in, the Force. The phrase being repeated isn’t in the Kipling poem and it sounds as though it says “Shama-(unclear) Saravat” and “Dumela Saravat” – thoroughly muddled as it is, those would roughly mean “Appease”/”Prepare the Force” and “Force of many people”. The first one is especially unclear, so take it with a big grain of salt.
This is as far as I can stretch listening to this track because it is so damn unclear. But the word “Saravat/Saravatta” (The final syllable is not always present and in this case doesn’t make much difference to the meaning), “Force” is repeated twice. I had tried to see if I could come up with a viable phrase for “Force Awakens” but to no avail.
There’s nothing like this in the Kipling poem, which is further confirmation that Snoke’s theme lifts words/phrases from “The Death Bed” but isn’t restricted to that poem alone, and includes original Sanskrit lyrics of its own about the force. I won’t be surprised if the sentences about the Force translated into feeding off the Force of many others, because that is actually a plausible interpretation of what I hear.
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