Beloved Sonnet

My rose

In a field of darkness there is one light

Alone I seek to grow this lonely rose

Promise of future petals that are white

My love is dirt from which my flower grows,

Await my rose’s bloom all so fast

My rose’s beauty alike Polaris

With powers to erase my neglected past 

Trauma I hope it will not inherit.

Oh no!–the wicked Devil does arrive

His breath possesses the heart of fire

My rose has become his eye of desire

He shouts, “I need your rose to stay alive,

For I will pay you all your heart desires!”

I slit the stem of my love and she dies…

For my Beloved blog post, I decided to write a sonnet depicting the situation that Sethe is put in when she decides to kill Beloved. Sethe is the speaker, and the object of the poem “the rose” is representative of beloved. The motif I payed close attention to throughout the book was birth and pregnancy, which was meant to portray how the next generation symbolized hope. This is a reason why I was so drawn to Sethe’s incredible dilemma.

I wanted to capture a situation in which someone would kill something that they loved to save it. The image I had in my head was a clearing in a forest that had only one flower growing in it amongst all of the grass. Before the flower ever gets a chance to bloom, fire surrounds it. The only way to “save” that flower so that it can eventually blossom is to cut its stem like slitting a throat.

Changes by Tupac

In Tupac’s “Changes” on his album, Greatest Hits, he sings about various problems that occur in America. He references the war on drugs, racism, and poverty. Throughout the song, Tupac explains how all these issues are happening in our country but nothing is changing. He wants to see changes but recognizes that “That’s just the way it is”. Tupac confronts the harsh reality of our country’s unfortunate unfairness towards certain groups of people. It is especially powerful because Tupac is speaking from his own experience. He is able to give his readers an extremely personal view from his first hand account. He can convey his message by incorporating poetic lines into his lyrics.

“Misplaced hate makes disgrace to races”

This line is specifically targeting racism. In the song, Tupac expains how our hate is directed towards the wrong things. People tend to focus so much on the color of our skin that they don’t look deeper into the content of our character. This line utilizes assonance which makes for an especially striking line. It emphasizes how people need to stop judging others solely based on their race.

“And as long as I stay black, I gotta stay strapped

And I never get to lay back”

Tupac says, “As long as I stay black”, as if it is a choice. By wording it in this way, he is able to convey the message that as long as he is black, he will constantly be forced to keep his guard up. But it is not a choice. When you are born black, there is no escape from the constant racism and discrimination you will face. And that is a systematic problem that needs to be changed.

Overall, Tupac’s lyrics made for an incredibly convincing argument for change. By incorporating striking lines into his song, he could express the urgency of the issues that plague our country. Although this song is not the happiest, it addresses serious problems like racism, gun violence and more. Ironically, Tupac was killed at the age of 25 in a drive by shooting. It is important to talk about changes that need to be made to prevent these tragic events.

“Ain’t No Grave” and Beloved

“Well, look way down the river and what do you think I see?”

While reading the novel Beloved, by Toni Morrison. I noticed a connection to one of the scenes in the novel to the song, “Ain’t No Grave,” by Johnny Cash.

There ain’t no grave can hold my body down
There ain’t no grave can hold my body down
When I hear that trumpet sound I’m gonna rise right out of the ground
Ain’t no grave can hold my body down Well, look way down the river, what do you think I see?
I see a band of angels and they’re coming after me
Ain’t no grave can hold my body down
There ain’t no grave can hold my body down

I found these lyrics to have a strong connection to the novel. The scene that made me think of this song was when Sethe was escaping slavery and taking the river to freedom. “Twilight came on and Amy said she had to go; that she wouldn’t be caught dead in dayIight on a busy river with a runaway.” Amy’s comment on being caught on a busy river was when I thought of the song, ” Ain’t No Grave.” A song about not letting anything put you down and rising above all. I thought of the song because of the line, ” Look way down the river, what do you think I see,?” This line in the song sticks out the most because I can see a connection to the novel. The awareness one has to have when escaping slavery because of the many risks. But then, looking forward and all the possibility of a better life and new opportunity. I think that everyone should give this song a listen because of the strong message it portrays.

Image result for god's favorite customer

Disappointing Diamonds are the Rarest of Them All by Father John off of his latest studio album; God’s Favorite Customer uses unconventional, almost unsettling metaphors to describe the love that is shared between him and his wife Emma. The chorus goes as:

Disappointing diamonds are the rarest of them all

And a love that lasts forever really can’t be that special

Sure we know our roles, and how it’s supposed to go

Does everybody have to be the greatest story ever told?

The theme of the song is to go against the traditional narrative of love being this perfect idea that love lasts forever but argues that love is actually flawed and not unique or special. Despite this love is still a “Diamond” and diamonds rarely disappoint. Love doesn’t have to be a fairytale for people to still enjoy it. 

The chorus focuses on the central theme while the verses use outright bizarre comparisons further his idea of love being imperfect.

“Like a pervert on a crowded bus

A glare of love bears down on us”

To compare love to the glare of a pervert is a gross outlandish juxtaposition, but in this case it works to further the theme song because illuminates the idea that there is both bad and good in love, but ultimately it’s still a “diamond”.

“Like a carcass left out in the heat

This love is bursting out of me”

Again we see a gross outlandish comparison but this line also has a deeper meaning because in many of his songs FJM infers to himself as a lifeless/emotional being, but despite this flaw in their love it’s still a positive experience.

“Like an oil tanker tipped at sea

This love’s contaminated me”

Particularly with this line we see the tragedy of an oil spillage but also the good in love, so while there is tragedy in love it ultimately triumphs.

Father John Misty is one of my favorite artists because he often goes against societal norms to define meaning in his lyrics to critique societal norms.

“From Eden”

https://genius.com/Hozier-from-eden-lyrics

Image result for from eden

I would strongly consider the song From Eden, by Hozier poetry, due to the imagery, the numerous symbolic elements and the perspective the song is written in.

From the first few lines of the song it is clear that Hozier is speaking to someone, and later on it becomes apparent that it is a lover that is not necessarily fit for him. These following lines draw the listener in and act as imagery within the song. He is clearly speaking directly to someone by repetitiously using the word “you” and posing a question.

“Babe, there’s something tragic about you

Something so magic about you

Don’t you agree?”

He then goes on to stating that this girl reminds him of his youth and using “his mirror years ago,” symbolically to convey this message. He speaks of his innocence and how she almost reminds him of that. He almost refers to her in an angelic way but she appears to have quite the opposite effect on him.

“Honey you’re familiar like my mirror years ago”

Lastly he wrote the lyrics with a religious background making the meaning behind the words go deeper beneath the surface. He says “I slither here from Eden” indicating the Garden of Eden which is a biblical reference. It appears that he gave up some form of paradise for this girl. By describing himself as a serpent within the garden, it makes him out to be below her, making her out to be a goddess.

I slithered here from Eden just to sit outside your door”

Throughout the lyrics, Hozier uses numerous poetic elements to convey his true meaning behind the words. Although the exact meaning isn’t really known, the use of these poetic elements create a deeper thought process for the listener.

A Love Song For Sethe

If you had to describe the relationship between Sethe and Paul D in one word, I think it would be safe to call it complicated. No relationship is perfect, but not every day do find out that your significant other has murdered their child. It’s hard to argue that either party in the relationship was mentally healthy enough to engage in a committed relationship. Both Sethe and Paul D carry extreme emotional baggage that often seeps into their present lives. This is not to say that they both don’t deserve a loving and committed relationship, but maybe they owe it to themselves to find another individual with a healthier outlook on life. I think that Solomon Burke sums it up perfectly in his classic You’re Good for Me. In this 1963 release, Burke sings about a complicated relationship with a woman he loves, but is constantly let down by. Burke begins with the melancholy lyrics, 

"You're a bad little girl, it's true/ But I'm not gonna walk out on you/They say you're a good for nothing, girl/But I'll stand up and tell the world."

When Paul D was informed that Sethe had murdered her youngest child, he fled the 124 household. Sethe’s moral image had become tainted. The lyrics depict Burke standing up for his mistress despite the fact that he’d already been informed about her toxic attributes. Though Paul D initially flees the house and falls into a drunken haze, he returns later, months after Beloved disappears. In addition, Paul D was originally hesitant to even admit that Sethe could have possibly committed the heinous act of murdering her own child.

Burke later laments,

"You're no good for yourself/You're no good for nobody else"

Not only did the decline of Sethe’s mental health take a toll on both Paul D and Denver, but her obsession over pleasing Beloved additionally caused her own physical appearance to decline. As Beloved became larger and uglier, Sethe seemed to wither away. Her physical strength and natural beauty began to fade.

 In the following lines, Burke changes his tone again.

"But you're good for me/Oh, you're good for me/Oh, sugar dumpling, can't you see/You're good for me"

Similar to how Burke seems to be trapped in a cycle of manipulative behavior, Paul D was once trapped between Beloved’s vendetta for her mother. As Paul D carries a heavy load of emotional baggage, he becomes an easy target in the crossfire.  

Burke finishes his tribute with the lines,

"That's all I'm living for/'Cause you're good"

After Paul D settled down in the Ohio home, his life began to reform around creating a stable home life. Though this would seem like an inherently positive change in his primarily independent life, it created an unprecedented interdependence between himself and Sethe. This subtextual dependence ultimately causes Paul D to return to the estate. For Paul D, there can never be too much water under the bridge.   

Violent Crimes – Kanye West

 https://genius.com/Kanye-west-violent-crimes-lyrics

“Violent Crimes” by Kanye West speaks upon his personal growth as a father and his shifting views on the world with his daughters growing up in it. This piece portrays the world negatively although later we see him learn through trial and error that it’s all apart of parenthood. West elaborates on potential but typical situations that parents endure with their daughters like their developing bodies, potential abusive relationships, and his past negative actions. However, we now see his views have developed after fathering daughter North West. Overall, the order of events in which his story is presented, the tone in which he raps and the message, categorize this song into a form of poetry.  

The lengthy intro to the song begins with extended and mellow piano tones as well as a female whose voice matches the instrumental effects. Later, West’s verse rapidly switches the tone as his extremely powerful word choice and stern voice include his thoughts towards fathering North as well as expressing fears of her being victimized by men. The need for West to keep his daughter protected from “pimps”, “monsters” and “playas” is mentioned by him. (15) West also combines forces using artists like Ty Dolla Sign, 070 Shake, as well as a voicemail message from rapper Nicki Minaj.  

On top of including these features West touches upon the physical aspect of growing up. The way that the world is set up, certain things are desired physically from men therefore creating set physical expectations from women. It is extremely apparent that this piece draws out the negativity in our ways as a society. As well as defining the negative values that women are associated with in present day. 

“I pray your body’s draped more like mine and not like your mommy’s”.

“Curves under your dress, I know it’s pervs all on the ‘net”


I understand that Kanye West is a controversial person in society today and that this song received an intense amount of negative feedback although I feel you cant let your views cloud your judgment with this one. It really broke down the parental role and shifted my mindset to understand what my parents endure without me even thinking twice about it. Some perceive the message detrimental although appear to be looking into the meaning more than intended. This piece proves itself as extremely transparent if you simply just listen.

Beloved and Perspective

Beloved was an amazing book, but one of the most important factors that makes it so good was the perspective that the book gave. The book gave a view that is not often written from, and it gives this book so much power. First off, the whole book is based off a true story of a slave mother killing her child. When you first hear that, it sounds twisted, which it is, but upon further analysis of it, you see what really is twisted. This mother killed her child because she didn’t want it to live through slavery. The thought of that is chilling. A mother’s love for her baby is universally seen as one of the greatest, deepest loves, and slavery caused this woman not to abandon her baby, but to kill it. That’s an interesting and scary story, but getting the whole thing from the point of view of the person who did it, that is what is so powerful. Although it is a fictional story, Morrison does an amazing job of opening the readers eyes to the true atrocities that occurred

To see everything from an enslaved person’s perspective made the book what it is. To see their lives, and hear their pain, it really makes a reader want to understand. For me, reading about the bit was very hard. I feel like as I’ve grown, I have seen slavery get progressively worse and worse. What I mean is that when I was younger, it seemed sugarcoated. I think the biggest reason it seemed that way is because of the perspective of the author. Rarely anything we read is from the perspective of a slave, and seeing their fears, hopes, and actions, makes it realer.

One last thing I want to touch on is how perspective changes in the scene where you see that Sethe has killed her baby. The perspective changes to that of the schoolteacher, and his hunting group. When he sees Sethe, with a dead baby, all we get from his POV is that this lady killed her baby. There is no reasoning as to why, or how she felt when it happened. This is just one example of why perspective is so important. We get to see through the eyes of the persecuted, and it tells us a completely different, and real story.

John Denver’s Nostalgic Ode to West Virginia

John Denver’s famous hit country song “Take Me Home, Country Roads” was released on April 12th, 1971. Considered as John Denver’s signature song, it was co-written by himself and his good friend Bill Danoff and surprisingly isn’t truly about West Virginia.

To show the poetic meaning of the song, one must look into the context of the writing of the song, as is similarly seen in poems. Bill wrote the song about his home state Maryland, reminiscing about its curving, winding roads. In a state of nostalgia mixed with home sickness, Danoff wrote the piece and presented it to his friend and artist, John Denver. Adding his own twists and turns, Denver created his now most prominent piece, “Take Me Home, Country Roads”.

Almost Heaven, West Virginia

Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River

Life is old there, older than the trees

Younger than the mountains, growing like a breeze

Denver singing to a simple beat, starts his piece with a quatrain. Right away, Denver compares West Virginia to heaven. Denver is using imagery to paint a picture to his listeners. He describes oddly describes life as old followed by describing a breeze as “growing”. I find this odd use of language combined with his detailed features of West Virginia as poetic to his listeners. His singing gives the feeling of nostalgia, a bright look on the past of a country he loved.

Denver’s lines in his hit song also reach multiple dimensions such as the imaginative, sensual, and emotional. This can be seen in the following lyrics.

Misty taste of moonshine

West Virginia, mountain mama

The line “Misty taste of moonshine” gives the listener a sensual feeling. Taste is not normally described as misty, thus the listener imagines the moonshine as misty. The following line “West Virginia, mountain mama” also oddly describes the state as the mother of mountains. Upon hearing this line the listener imagines the mountainous state and can feel the nostalgia that Denver is singing about. This nostalgia is emotional for the listener themselves as they start to recall their own hometown or other matters they are nostalgic about.

Overall, John Denver and Bill Danoff created a poem of nostalgia, that shakes the bones of the listener, painting a picture within their head, and emotionally calling upon their own nostalgic experiences and past.

“I Like Me Better”

The song “I Like Me Better”, by Lauv, is a love song. And similar to most love songs, the lyrics are very poetic because the artist is trying to convey their emotions in the best way possible. “I Like Me Better” is about young love and how they make each other better.

One of the first lines in the song is “To not know who I am but still know that I’m good long as you’re here with me”. Lauv starts the song talking about how he doesn’t really know who he is. Finding yourself is something many people struggle with, and it can be daunting. Lauv then goes on to say “but I still know that I’m good long as you’re here with me”. Lauv is saying that having this other person with him is comforting and reassuring.

The chorus of the song is mainly the repetition of the words, “I like me better when I’m with you”. Lauv is saying that his partner makes him a better person, and he likes this about them. This is a big part of love, and one that will often get over looked. Your partner should make you a better person. Whether it’s in the form of you being inspired by them, or they make you try new things to help you grow. An important part of a relationship is to help each other.

Lauv’s song, “I Like Me Better” is poetic through the meaning behind the lyrics. Lauv turns an inportant part of a relationship into a love song that is very poetic.

The Poetry of Townes Van Zandt

I have a bad habit of listening closer to the melody of lyrics against the harmony of the song than the meaning behind the words, but listening to the song “Fare Thee Well, Miss Carousel” by Townes Van Zandt was one of those instances where I can remember catching lyrics and thinking “wow, I should really be paying attention to this”. While the harmony may not be especially interesting, the lyrics are beautifully put in a way that I just have to appreciate and admire.

Even before really trying to understand the words there was something really profound about them that I couldn’t really explain with literary devices. If you’re going to listen to the song, I’d recommend doing so before reading this, as anything I say will likely not do it justice. I’m glad I had the opportunity to just appreciate it before trying to assign meaning to it.

That being said, I think the song is about a woman who has different men “go for a ride around the carousel” before discarding them and moving on to the next one, but more importantly, the different men who came after the protagonist. I promise it’s less cliche than it sounds.

Van Zandt begins with the line “Well the drunken clown’s still hanging round/but it’s plain the laughter’s all died down” He’s referring to a man, possibly himself, who stayed with with this woman for longer than was good for him. He’s not aware of whats best for him as he’s under her influence and he’s acting like a fool. The image of the drunken clown is also a powerfully disturbing juxtaposition illustrating the corruption of a childlike image. The laughter, something traditionally associated with clowns, has all died down as the good times ended and it’s become clear to everyone else that there is something wrong. There’s something especially haunting about this because it’s not a game anymore; the people around him are silent and concerned as he continues to suffer obliviously.

In the next stanza: “And a blind man with his knife in hand/Has convinced himself that he understands/I wish him well, Miss Carousel/But I got to be a-goin'”, a different man is reacting differently to the end of his relationship with her. The man’s “blindness” represents how he too has not yet figured out this woman’s game. However, any attempt to get him to realize her game makes him defensive, hence the knife in his hand. He thinks he understands her and will blindly lash out at anyone who tries to tell him otherwise. This desperate image is again deeply disturbing; he’s confused and attacking those who try to help him. While the protagonist wants him to wake up and realize whats happening, it’s simply not his job to convince the man who will eventually find out he was wrong.

In all honesty, I was a bit disappointed to come to the conclusion that this was another song about a “cruel woman who uses men”, but as I analyzed the lyrics further, I came to a far greater appreciation of them. Every single line is poetry in a way that I hadn’t anticipated it to be, beyond figurative language and descriptive imagery. This song reflects experience and does so in a way that is far greater than the sum of its incredible imagery, word choice and figurative language.

Poetry in Music: Bon Iver’s “29 #Strafford APTS”

Bon Iver is a indie folk band founded by singer-songwriter Justin Vernon. Vernon was launched into fame with his first project “For Emma, forever ago” which he wrote in his hometown of Eau Claire. His fame can largely be attributed to his distinctive falsetto and innovation in the folk genre. Bon Iver’s “29 #Strafford APTS” from 22, a million is one of his most poetic and beautiful songs. The song serves as a reminder of the comfort and shelter found in memories. Additionally, it addresses the tragic temptation of trying to change things back to how they were in the past.

The song begins with the narrator reminiscing about a time they smoked pot with their friends in a parking lot. Then in the second verse Vernon continues this story:

Hallucinating Claire

Nor the snow shoe light or the autumns

Threw the meaning out the door

(Now could you be a friend)

There ain’t no meaning anymore

(Come and kiss me here again)

One the first level, Justin Vernon is referring to someone named Claire hallucinating. The chorus refers to smoking pot (rolling up, holding up) so it can be inferred Claire is someone who was smoking and is now tripping on drugs. However, Vernon commonly uses Claire to Allude to his hometown of Eau Claire. He gives a place a name like a person, emphasizing the personal connection to it. Finally, on a third level, the name Claire means clear in french. So juxtaposing hallucinating with clear and then winter (snow shoe light) with autumn makes Eau Claire seem unrestricted by the limitations of time. This larger than life depiction of Eau Claire further emphasizing Vernon’s strong connection to his hometown.

In the next verse, Vernon tries to put the memories of Eau Claire he has been talking about behind him:

Fold the map and mend the gap

And I tow the word companion

And I make my self escape

Vernon uses sea ship metaphors to address how he has to move on from his past. A person folds a map when they get to their destination and are done navigating. Therefore, when Vernon folds the map he is done with his nostalgic journey. Additionally, towing the word companion is a metaphor for how Vernon is dragged down by his attachment to his former relationship.

In the last chorus of the song, Vernon comes back to the present. He describes the event that triggered him to think about the past:

I hold the note

You wrote and know

You’ve buried all your alimony butterflies

Vernon describes how the narrator is holding the note that their partner gave to them. “Alimony” is a popular legal term that refers to the money paid by an individual to a former partner, usually court ordered during divorce procedures. Therefore, Vernon looks at a note that seems to have lead to a divorce. On a metaphorical level, Narcissus ‘Alimony’ is a type of flower. One of the flower’s pollinators are butterflies. Since the other person has buried these butterflies it means they have lost there chance at getting Alimony by giving this note.

My Way

“My Way” is one of Frank Sinatra’s more famous songs and was released on the album titled My Way. Although Sinatra did not write the lyrics, the song was immensely popularized after his rendition was released. “My Way” is a song about determination and life reflection. Here is the link to the lyrics My Way.

The song is as close to poetry as any song I’ve listened to. The song is emotional, uplifting, and has a consistent, clear rhyme scheme. The song is about someone on their death bed looking back on their life. The speaker is satisfied with his life and reflects on living it to the fullest in his own way. The speaker states he’s made mistakes and has some regrets but not too many to worry about. He reminisces on when he had to face adversity and fight through it. The song ends with some emotional lines about times he’s laughed and cried and expresses his pride in the way he lived his life.

The speaker conveys this message to the audience through the use of metaphors and emotional imagery. The poetic devices are employed to make the audience connect to the speaker and emotionally uplifts them.

And now, the end is near

And so I face the final curtain.

These are the first two lines of the song and the metaphor makes the song emotional from the start. He compares his dying days as the curtain being closed on the last part of his life.

I’ve lived a life that’s full

I’ve traveled each and every highway.

This metaphor is the speaker saying he’s ‘been there, done that’. He hasn’t traveled on every highway but he has so much life experience.

Yes there were times, I’m sure you knew

when I bit off more than I could chew

But through it all, when there was doubt

I ate it up and spit it out

I faced it all, and I stood tall

And did it my way

I think this is the most powerful stanza of the song because the speaker has gone away from the sad parts of the song and now he’s reflecting on his proudest moments. He employs metaphors to describe how he handled adversity and overcame some of the struggles he’s been through.

“Love You Too Much”

Released as the only single on his debut album Painted, in April 2019, “Love You Too Much“, Lucky Daye’s near-8 minute single details the pain one goes through when their love is not reciprocated. “Love You Too Much” is a song that has various interpretations and can be applied to life in more than one area.

Image result for love you too much lucky daye meaning"

The song begins with a minute and 30 second intro of the artist speaking; admitting that he has been hurt and is currently in a pain that has been messing with his head and is inescapable. As the song begins, its meaning is revealed, Lucky Daye is feeling regret for even allowing someone into his heart to the point where they could hurt him.

You make my heart beat for you

I almost cry too often (Too often)

But I put too much in your hands

So much regret in the end

During the chorus Lucky Daye discloses this meaning and the listener is left to picture his situation. Often he ends up crying because he has reached a point where he has given his all to someone, even his heart, and now it’s too late for him to change it. He regrets leading with his heart and believing he could never get hurt. Through the song’s slow but intense rhythm and Lucky Daye’s passionate sing and strong diction portraying his emotions, we are left to picture a time in our lives when we gave something or someone our all, and ended up in a place of regret.

In the third verse, Lucky Daye asks two rhetorical questions, aimed towards whoever hurt him.

How you f***in’ lie with a straight face?

How can you and I find a safe place?

By, raising these questions, he invokes emotions in the listener that they once again can relate to. He is torn because his trust in who is speaking to has been lost, and he does not know how they will recover from this.

It’s a shame for you, it’s a shame for me

Is the blame on you? I can say the same for me

Finally, through his use of another rhetorical question and rhyme, Lucky Daye establishes that all of this is a shame, and he primarily blames himself for allowing this to happen. If he did not give so much of himself, he would not be in the same position. He trusted that love would not hurt him, but now regrets his choice.

To Kill a Mocking-Bird

This Florence and the Machine song is one of the oldest downloads on my phone. It is from the album “Lungs,” titled Bird Song. This is a very poetic song about guilt and highlights an internal conflict using metaphor, personification, and repetition.

Image result for bird song florence and the machine

The lyrics describe a bird who sings about all the bad things the writer has done, until she brings him in and kills him because he won’t stop. The bird is a metaphor for the voice in her head that tells her she is a bad person. This adds to the meaning of the song because it is a thing she tries and tries to quiet and get rid of, but even after killing the bird, the song continues.

Well I didn’t tell anyone, but a bird flew by.

Saw what I’d done. He set up a nest outside,

and he sang about what I’d become.

After this we learn that the bird was never the one shaming her, because the thing singing becomes herself, personifying the bird’s song as she begins to realize it is coming from her. The song is almost still a living being inside of her.

But in my dreams began to creep

that old familiar tweet tweet tweet.

The singer struggles to stop singing about all the shameful things she has done, and using bird imagery, the listener draws a connection that she is the bird:

waved my arms and flapped about

Finally she repeats that the song is coming “from my mouth” for the last 15 lines of the song, almost a mantra. She realizes that the guilt and shame she feels from the past only comes from her own thoughts in her head.

I used to listen to this song when I was younger and kind of just think it was about a demonic bird that was really mean to this girl, but hearing it now the meaning is so much deeper. Everyone struggles with a voice in their head that tells you you aren’t good enough, and I think that is why “Bird Song” resonates so so widely.

“I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore”

Lucy Dacus communicates a very simple plea in her 2016 single. She wants to be someone else. From what the listener can glean from the almost 3 minute song, Dacus wants to change her role in the classic friend group structure. She’s currently the “funny one” but has seen that that causes more harm than good. Something I noticed off the bat from just reading the lyrics is how simplistic the syntax is. I’ve come to admire that in a way I hadn’t before. By choosing short, snappy phrases, the reader can sense a level of desperation in the author’s tone without ever hearing the song itself. To read the song in its entirety: click here.

The third verse starts: “I don’t want the joke to be on me”. In a similar vein, the bridge begins with “Try not to laugh”. These short sentences express to the audience of her friends that she’s being serious, she’s begging to be a person, not a one dimensional prop to be used for others’ enjoyment.

The second verse is her offering another position for herself:

“I don’t wanna be funny anymore
I got a too short skirt, maybe I can be the cute one
Is there room in the band? I don’t need to be the front man
If not, then I’ll be the biggest fan”

The line ‘I don’t need to be the front man’ shows, at a deeper level, she just wants to be included, it doesn’t matter her supposed rank in the hierarchy.

As someone who’s had trouble in larger groups of friends, I relate to this song. I believe that anyone who’s struggled with how they fit in can find themselves in this song.

A story of Hope

“1-800-273-8255” is a 2017 hit song by artist Logic from the album with the same name. While the name of the song may be confusing to some, it’s actually the number for the suicide prevention hotline. The song is all about having hope through difficult times and realizing your worth. Here is the link to the lyrics 1-800-273-8255.

When having to defend this song as poetry, the lyrics speak for themselves. The meaning of the song runs very deep. To start with the title would juts be the start. The song title is never mentioned in the song but is there instead to encourage people to use it and call if you ever have negative thoughts. When moving into the actual song, Logic brakes it down into three parts. The person calling the hotline, to the person receiving the call, back to the person who called now with renewed hope. The song is one big line to never give up. Logic is trying to tell those in pain that it does get better and there is no reason to believe it doesn’t

Logic achieves this meaning through some poetic devices. He uses a plethora of devices, and specifically uses metaphor to compare this newfound hope to drowning and taking the first breath after being rescued.

It’s the very first breath
When your head’s been drowning underwater
And it’s the lightness in the air
When you’re there
Chest to chest with a lover

Through this metaphor, the listener who might not have these thoughts are given an idea of what they might feel like.

Logic poses a rhetorical question in every chorus. He asks ” Who can relate?” While not expecting an answer, who wants people to know they are not in this alone. Just by asking these three words, Logic is able to bring a shimmer of hope, which he uses to build on throughout the whole song.

 

“Girl in the War”

Josh Ritter is an artist that my parents always played when I was little: a time where I sang the lyrics not recognizing meaning, just saying words. After finding him again, I found that he was one of my favorite songwriters with his Americana style and narrative lyrics. “Girl in the War” is one of my favorites, where he sings about the dangers of maintaining an inflexible worldview, while a man is worrying about his girlfriend/lover that is serving in the war.

Ritter uses the symbol of the disciples, Paul and Peter, twice in his song:

Paul said to Peter you know all those words we wrote

are just the rules of the game and the rules are the first to go.

I think the disciples symbolize an anti-war sentiment, saying that the governments role of how they do good for their country is changing, and that the people who make decisions about participating in war are focused on the wrong rules. Ritter continues talking about Paul and Peter:

Paul said to Peter you got to rock yourself a little harder

Pretend the dove from above is a dragon and your feet are on fire.

Paul and Peter continue be a symbol of the urge to protest war, saying that people have to fight a little harder against the government. Ritter is talking about politics in a way that doesn’t take the politician’s side but the side of the people and what they are going through.

The metaphor of the dove and the dragon also give another layer of meaning. Ritter is saying that people cannot blindly believe, but actively protest, and to find the same sense of urgency that you would if you were on fire. He wants people to get past talking about problems and into acting on them. He continues to use metaphors throughout his song:

Because the keys to the kingdom got locked inside the kingdom

the angels fly around in there but we can’t see them

This metaphor depicts the government as a kingdom, or the people who have the power to stop the war. Ritter is expression his feelings of frustration through this metaphor, and is exasperated that they “key” to change is our of his hands.

Finally, Ritter talks about a woman he loves that is serving in the war. He characterizes her in many lines:

Her eyes are like champagne

sparkle bubble over and in the morning all you got is rain

This simile makes us feel more connected with this woman, and the imagery of her eyes and how bright, bubbly, and sparkling they are show how attached this man is to her. He also repeats this line over and over again, almost as a chant to soothe him into not worrying about her. We get angry at this situation where she is in danger at war, and it makes us lean towards Ritter’s anti-war view.

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/joshritter/girlinthewar.html

You Can Drown Yourself In Metaphors: Vanilla Curls

I first listened to Teddy Hyde’s song “Vanilla Curls” by accident, when it showed up in my Spotify recommended, but the seemingly simple happy song had more depth than I thought, and is a clear example of a musical poem. Telling of it’s inner poetry, the songs first line states the literary device used throughout:

I could drown myself in metaphor

I could crown your head and catch the floor

Lookin’ up at a yellow girl

She won’t cut me free of her Vanilla Curls

Hyde uses these opening lines as just a glimpse into the atmosphere he creates with the rest of the song. He does indeed use a plethora of metaphor throughout the lyrics, describing an almost dying relationship that has left him set in confusion, but also uses clever literary devices such as personification:

Equipped with private eyes, her stare declared me missing

Tried to talk myself out of it, but I never listen

Hyde’s use of literary devices isn’t the only thing that makes this song very poetic, but I would argue his use of diction and imagery does as well. He juxtaposes the melancholy feelings and doubt he has regarding his relationship with playful and silly imagery. Such as describing his significant other as food.

In a minute she already put my feelings in their place

I hate vegetables, but I’d put that stringbean on my plate.

His use of “stringbean” in this line has a deeper meaning as well, as in other songs of his stringbean is used as a term of endearment, like “honey” or “baby”. His seemingly silly wording and phrases creates a sense of childishness, which is interesting as the lyrics have a more to them. For example, near the end of the song he says:

She caught me by the ear and left me lying here in writhing fear

If I get any deeper, I might need diving gear

Hyde has a wonderful way of playing with wording and internal rhyme, while also telling a story of conflict and hurt. But, without looking closer at the lines, you would never guess the precision and thought put into the structure of the sentences, something shrouded by the light airy melody that shapes the song as a whole. Hyde does a seamless job of making the complexity of the lyrics and poetry seem easy and natural, culminating in a lovely tune with a hidden emotional meaning.

“Taro”

Gerda Taro and Robert Capa

The song “Taro” by Alt-j is about a real man. His name was Endre Ernő Friedmann, though he worked under the alias of Robert Capa. He was a traveled photographing many wars until his death at the age of 40. 

This song is set at the occasion of his death. He was covering the First Indochina war (referenced by the first word of the song: “Indochina”) after being convinced to photograph it. This was not the first war he had been to, from 1936 to the end of his life he photographed a total of 5 wars the first being the Spanish Civil War. He and his girlfriend Gerda Taro went there and working under the shared alias of Robert Capa documented the war in photographs. However, tragedy struck when his girlfriend, Gerda Taro, for whom the song is named, was killed. He was deeply affected by the loss and never married. A big part of the song is about his reunion with Taro after his death, however, that is not what I will be focusing on.

The first verse contains some of the best imagery I have ever heard in a song:

“(Ooh) Very yellow-white flash!

A violent wrench grips mass

Rips light, tears limbs like rags”

The line “Very yellow-white flash!” in the context of the song leads the listener to first think of a camera flash, however, the next line “A violent wrench grips mass” reveals it to be an explosion. I think the line captures the feel of an explosion well (at least how someone whose never been in one might imagine it to feel like) with its word choice. Wrench is a word you can almost feel in your stomach, it captures the feeling of sudden interruption and disturbance, like your insides are still going forward after your body has been suddenly stopped. Mass makes it feel like the change is not just the person is being wrenched, but something more fundamental. “Rips light” furthers this idea as only something large and powerful on a giant scale could really manipulate light to that extent. In short, these lines gives a feeling of greatness to an explosion nowhere near that scale, unless of course you are caught in it. 

Another example of the amazing imagery in this song is the way he describes Capa’s death:

Quivers, last rattles, last chokes

All colours and cares glaze to grey

Shriveled and stricken to dots

He provides both an external and internal view of the same event. Quiver sounds like a quiver and by repeating the word last it reminds the listener that Capa is dying. It then shifts inward to Capa and has three pairs of words starting with the same letter and separated by the word ‘and’. This emphasizes what is being said and stretches the moment in time. I think the focus on visual imagery works very well here considering how he dedicated his life to photography.

The careful control of language used in this song to tells the story of Capa and Taro very well and vividly. I believe that this song is definitely poetry.

https://genius.com/Alt-j-taro-lyrics

If you are interested here are some of the photos from his time in Indochina: https://www.magnumphotos.com/newsroom/conflict/ropert-capa-indochina-war/