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.
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.