The importance of the third stanza of Song: Go catch a falling star
In chapter eleven (In which Howl goes to a strange country in search of a spell) Howl, Sophie and Michael
first meet Miss Angorian and retrive the spell as well as the next verse of the poem. Howl tells them that the poem is a curse
- and there are three verses to Song. When Miss Angorian is reading the poem (p157-8) she is about to read the third
verse when Howl stops her: "Thank you... Stop there."
Why was Howl so determined to avoid the third verse and why did he not bother with it throughout the book? It can't be
meaningless. Is it possible that the third verse of the spell had not yet been activated? If this is the case, what does the
third verse mean to Howl and why was he so quick to cut Miss Angorian off?
First, let's take a look at the third stanza of Song:
If thou find'st one, let me know,
Such a pilgrimage were sweet;
Yet do not, I would not go,
Though at next
door we might meet,
Though she were true, when you met her,
And last, till you write your letter,
False, ere I come, to two, or three.
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So what does this mean to Howl?
This probably relates to Howl's inability to stay in love with a woman long enough for her to accept his faults. But
Howl has fallen in love truly with Sophie, who returns his feelings having known about his faults beforehand.
It then says that she will leave him as soon as he turns his back: "False, ere I come, to two, or three."
This could be read two ways; either it refers to the fact that the Witch kidnaps Sophie and takes her away from him,
or it could be another part of the curse that doesn't activate (hence it isn't referred to in the book hereafter.)
That would explain why Howl is quick to cut Miss Angorian off when she is reading the poem: if this part of the curse
it might make it so Sophie is unable herself to be loyal to the one she loves.
Sophie goes against the third verse by staying true to Howl. She does this by going to the Waste to protect him rather
than leaving and forgetting about the curse. Therefore she is "A woman true and fair."