The song “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen is, for many, easily one of the greatest songs of all time. An important reason that “Bohemian Rhapsody” has been so popular for over 40 years is that it embodied everything Queen is known for and combines everything they do so perfect together. The overall theme is relaying how different his life could have been, and how much happier he might have been had he just been able to be himself his whole of his life. What you may not know by just listening to the song once is that it is filled with many different types of poetic devices.
Right off the bat in the intro in the song the song starts off with:
Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality
Starting the song off with a metaphor like this is a perfect way to portray the overall theme of the rest of the song. With this metaphor Queen is saying that Freddie Mercury is in the middle of too many things happening at once. He feels as though he is stuck and has no way to escape. We know it is a metaphor because he is not actuly stuck. This was just a perfect way for him to explain his situation of being stuck in unconquerable problems to his readers.
Next Literay device is a little bit more stuttle:
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me!
This allusion may slip by some listeners ears if they do not fully understand it. An allusion in poetry is when there is a brief, intentional reference to a historical, mythic, or literary person, place, event, or movement. In this example, there is a reference to Christan belifs. Beelzebub is another name for the devil or satan. He uses the allusion to express that he feels he needs to be punished for his actions and sins. These sins are so bad that they will give him his own devil, put aside just for him.
Lastly Queen is able to use a hyperbole perfectly in their record:
So you think you can love me and leave me to die?
This a clear exaggeration/ hyperbole because he will clearly not actually die if he is to be left. Him being left behind is being exaggerated because he wants to show the pain he will be in, in such a large way.
At the end of the day Bohemian Rhapsody would not be where it is today, heard by everyone, inducted into the grammy hall of fame, without its poetic devices in its lyrics. It gives the song a deeper meaning then just the words heard by the listener.
INTYWIDFAL is the final song in the concept album Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge.
A concept album is an album with a storyline to it. In this album, the story builds off the story from the previous album, centering around two people called the Demolition Lovers.
According to lead vocalist Gerard Way, the story of the album goes like this:
“The concept for the record Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, was the story of a man and a woman who are separated by death in a gunfight and he goes to hell only to realize by the devil telling him that she’s still alive. The devil says you can be with her again if you bring me the souls of a thousand evil men and so he hands him and a gun and he says I’ll go do it.”
The final song on the album centers around the killing of the last evil man, which turns out to be himself. He cannot see his lover for now but hopes one day, they will be reunited again, shown by the line: “Another night and I’ll see you”
Throughout the song, we also almost see a sense of self-disgust for the protagonist after having killed all those people. He wants his lover to clean him off, but he feels the stains will never come out. This is likely a homage to Macbeth, where Macbeth, after killing King Duncan, feels so much guilt and feels that no water could wash the blood of his hands.
“Another knife in my hands, a stain that never comes off the sheets / Clean me off, I’m so dirty, babe”
However, we see the protag rationalize what he is doing through the lines:
“Touched by angels, though / I fall out of grace / I did it all, so maybe / I’d live this every day”
The protag wants to be alive and return to earth, so he took up the task. However, by noting he fell “out of grace”, he knows he is not a great man.
We now arrive near the end of the scene where the protag realizes he will not be able to see his lover. Although the protag is upset, he remains hopeful that one day, through some circumstance, he will be reunited with his lover again.
“And we’ll love again, we’ll laugh again / We’ll cry again, and we’ll dance again”
Overall, this is a gutwrenching song about loss, death, hope, and murder with incredible music to accompany it. I find it to be a good ending song to an album with an amazing story. I also this the album does a good job at continuing the story from the first album “I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love”. I would recommend listening to both albums if you like horror movies, theatrics, or just a good ominous story.
After a two year hiatus, Drake released his highly anticipated, “Certified Lover Boy.” The intro to this album is the song, Champagne Poetry. In this intro, Drake cuts the song into two parts. In Part 1, Drake speaks about how he has done so much to get to where he is now and others in the rap game still think they are above him or better than him. In Part 2, Drake stops talking about his accolades or his money, and just expresses what it’s like to be at the top. With all the pressure weighing on him, his family, the city he lives in. But its all more of a reason to keep going for him.
I’m tryna just relay what I can see through my own eyes
And nothin’ tell the truth like the eyes will
This quote from Drakes song truly sums up the first part of the song. I can feel the exhaustion in the way he wrote this. Drake wants the listener to feel like they are sitting together having a conversation. This isn’t the strongest example of simile or imagery, but I feel this is an important quote in the song.
I even got the cleanin’ staff plotting extortion on me
My parents’ divorce is on me
My therapist’s voice is making the choices for me
And I always censor myself ’cause no matter what, they reporting on me
The pressure is weighin’ on me
In Part 2 of the song, Drake starts to have this therapy session with himself. His use of diction makes the reader/listener feel sympathy for him. He describes and gives examples about how the pressure of things in his life is getting too much for him. Even though he is a man of high stature, he still feels certain ways like we all do.
My chef got the recipe for disaster baking slowly
My heart feel vacant and lonely, but still
I’m makin’ the most of this shit and more
Every single move is like rolling dice on the board
The simile used in this quote sums up how Drake is living life. He doesn’t know what the dice will say but he’s hoping he’ll get lucky. Through all the pressure boiling and the world falling apart, Drake still finds a way to be content and live life like “rolling dice on the board.”
Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit’s song “Fireworks” is just one example of poetry on their amazing album Ruins. While the singing and instrumentals were what originally drew me to the song, it has great lyrics and is a wonderful example of music poetry.
Like many songs on the album, which was created after a broken engagement, the song is about a breakup. “Fireworks” uses lyrics and music to bring the listener into the speaker’s mind and world.I took a trip out to the frozen lake
And it felt so far away
But I could feel it washing over me
There’s no escaping the harsh light of day
The poem repeats motifs of water/lakes and light. I would describe the musical aspects of the song as flowy and bright, making these motifs more effective and present in the poem. I’m not sure what these motifs represent or are trying to convey, but the song effectively transports the listener into the speaker’s situation with powerful imagery.
Why do I do this to myself every time?
I know the way it ends
Before it’s even begun
I am the only one
At the finish line
One of the most powerful lines in the poem is “Why do I do this to myself?” This is repeated many times throughout the poem and puts the listener in the speaker’s mind. The chorus (lyrics below) is repeated three times during the song. The repetition demonstrates the speaker’s regret and how their mind is stuck, repeating the same questions over and over.
I would highly recommend giving First Aid Kit a listen. Every song features comforting and bright harmonies, but the band also takes a lot of risks ensuring that every song sounds different. Every First Aid Kit song is a powerful piece of music poetry.
As conveyed in the title “Pink+White”, Frank Ocean explains his passion for a person and his perspective on the world through his memories. He interlaces the ups and downs that come with feelings of love and attachment by comparing them to either light or darkness with seemingly no in between.
The first set of lyrics in the song serves to describe a strange pink and white landscape then contrast it with a more realistic black and yellow landscape in order to highlight the randomness and lack of control we have in the world.
“That’s the way everyday goes
Every time we’ve no control
If the sky is pink and white
If the ground is black and yellow
It’s the same way you showed me”
The following verses make an undeniable statement about the importance of love and trust during disastrous times. Ocean uses a metaphor about the atmosphere and north and south geography to describe his attachment to someone he loves. The description of feeling “south” contradicts the cold loneliness of the north and provides a sense of comfort. The comparison to the Earth and its atmosphere describe how Ocean felt powerless in such a vast world and was unable to grasp the events taking place in his own life.
“If you could fly then you’d feel south
Up north’s getting cold soon
The way it is, we’re on land
So I’m someone to hold true
Keep you cool in this good life
Won’t let you down when it’s all ruined”
Ocean uses vivid imagery throughout the song to tell specific memories from his earlier life. The peaceful music and fond portrayal of the memory give the listener a sense of peace yet the subtle ominous intermissions scattered throughout, such as the mention of a hurricane, send a different message. The guitar strums softly in the background while the lyrics recall children playing.
“In the wake of a hurricane
Dark skin of a summer shade
Nosedive in the flood lines
Tall tower of milk crates
It’s the same way you showed me
Cannonball off the porch side
Older kids trying off the roof”
On the surface the song seems to be recalling fond memories from his past until the end of the piece. Ocean uses repetition of the line “the same way you showed me”. The repetition of this line, written in the past tense suggests that he had been talking about the happy memories and affection of someone he lost throughout the song. After repeating this line multiple times in seemingly random spots in the song he sings
“That’s the same way you showed me, showed me
You showed me love
Glory from above
Regard my dear
It’s all downhill from here”
This shift in tone continues until the end of the poem where he reminisces about cigarettes and tragedy and how he has nostalgia for his past despite the fact that it was a more difficult time in many aspects. As the song progresses from fond memories to more dark moments of his past it becomes apparent that Ocean’s purpose in these lyrics was to describe how relationships tend to go wrong after the “glory”. This however does not mean that the two were never good, in fact using the term “glory” suggests that at one point things were going very well between them. Instead he is pointing his experiences in how after a relationship reaches a peak it begins to fail shortly thereafter each and every time leaving him feeling out of control.
Mac Miller is a 21st century rap artist who sadly passed away in the year 2018 by a tragic drug overdose. The song “2009” starts off with a wonderful piano solo that really sets the mood for the song as a whole. The song then transitions into Miller himself who comes in with a very soft tone of voice. Mac has always been known for his well thought out rhyme schemes and he shows that here in this song as well.
The song starts with the chorus that is repeated many times throughout.
“I don’t need to lie no more
Nowadays all I do is shine, take a breath and ease my mind, and
She don’t cry no more
She tell me that I get her high ’cause an angel’s s’posed to fly, and
I ain’t askin’ “Why?” no more
Oh, no, I take it if it’s mine, I don’t stay inside the lines
It ain’t 2009 no more
Yeah, I know what’s behind that door“
These lines here specifically hit hard to the listener and to Mac himself. They represent his past times and what he had to go through in that specific year which was 2009. Mac battled many things including depression that was fueled by a deadly drug addiction, as well as relationship issues that were also prominent in the ideas for his songs.
This song specifically I think can really fit into that category of poetry. The song throughout has a rheme scheme representing that as of a poem and flows like a poem as well.
” Nowadays all I do is shine, take a breath and ease my mind, and
She don’t cry no more”
These specific lines really show Mac Miller’s ability to use a certain flow and his descriptive langue to show his troubles with his relationships and how he is coping with them and as well as how he is doing in the moment of the song.
Verse 1 also features some extremely powerful lines that if read out loud you would assume is poetry.
“Now every day I wake up and breathe
I don’t have it all but that’s all right with me
Take it nice and easy, took a flight to see me
Send you back home with a light that’s beamin’
The whole team ’bout to figure it out
We ice cold, that’s what winter about
And sometimes, sometimes I wish I took a simpler route
Instead of havin’ demons that’s as big as my house, mhmm
Have a ball with a dribble and bounce”
Here, Mac Miller uses an aaaabbbbb rhyme scheme that also features a metaphor. Using this scheme and combing it with a metaphor helps the reader better understand how Mac is feeling mentally at this state in this song (at this state in his life). Mac’s lines here also show his thankfulness for just the fact that he was here and living at this point in time, even though he may not have everything in life.
Verse 2 also illuminates some very powerful lines
“You don’t ever gotta worry
Even when it’s 7:30 and the time is runnin’ low
When your heart get cold
See what’s behind all them unturned stones
And I’m a pro when it come to my job
But really I’m just tryna start believin’ in God
Now when it gets hard
I don’t panic, I don’t sound the alarm”
Once again, Mac uses rhyming to emphasize the significance of woman in his life. Mac also shows his newfound relation and hopefulness that he can now make God significant in his life. Comparing praying to God and sounding the alarm creates a powerful metaphor and really shows how much god means to him and how he feels safe to have him.
This song truly represents poetry. It lines not only represent things much bigger than the words on the page like poetry, but also has a form and rhyme scheme like an actual poem. Mac Miller is an artist and with his use of words, he could easily have written an award-winning poem if he were still here today.
“No Role Modelz” is a song written by J. Cole, featured on his album 2014 Forest Hills Drive.
J. Cole portrays multiple themes is this song, and I am going to focus on two of them.
The first theme that I am going to focus on is the one of lack of male role models. J. Cole immediately addresses this by saying,
“First things first: rest in peace Uncle Phil
you the only father that I ever knew”
This is an allusion to a TV show called “Fresh Prince of Bellaire”, in which a character named Uncle Phil looks after a young boy for the large duration of his childhood due to him not having a father figure. J. Cole immediately addressing Uncle Phil shows the importance to him of a male figure who stepped up as a parental figure. The line “you the only father that I ever knew” implies that he did not have a male parental figure growing up, and the fact that he relied on a TV show to gain a positive male influence shows the lack of a male parental figure in his life, and how important it is to have one.
He shows his belief on how important it is to have a male parental figure when he says “I get my b**** pregnant I’ma be a better you.” His desire to be an outstanding Dad for his child displays his belief in importance of a strong Dad in a boy’s life.
J. Cole develops another theme by attacking the people in Hollywood, specifically woman. He develops a theme that some women are good individuals and respectable, but that most aren’t, and that is takes a smart man to decipher and decide between the two. While the theme and the way he portrays it is definitely condescending towards women, he also talks about how men, including himself, play into this role and make it possible for women who he morally attacks to be prosperous.
The main chorus of this song demonstrates this perfectly,
“Don’t save her, she don’t wanna be saved.
Don’t save her, she don’t wanna be saved.
Don’t save her, she don’t wanna be saved.
Don’t save her, she don’t wanna be saved.”
The repetition shows how he believes the majority of woman do not deserve to be “saved” in Hollywood.
J. Cole tells a story about an encounter he has with a woman in Hollywood that he believes to be morally poor.
“Out in Hollywood bringin’ back five or six hoes
F*** ’em then we kick ’em to the do’, n****, you know how it go
She deserved that, she a bird, it’s a bird trap
You think if I didn’t rap she would flirt back?
Takin’ off her skirt, let her wear my shirt, ‘fore she leave
‘I’ma need my shirt back'”
In this excerpt he dehumanizes the women he had a sexual experience by calling them birds in order to enforce that idea that the majority of women in Hollywood do not deserve the type of respect you would give to an ordinary person. It is clear he believes they are only talking to him because he is famous, and want to attach themselves to him, which he symbolizes him preventing by taking his shirt back.
In this excerpt J. Cole shows how he feels “these type” of women should be treated, but then shows how men feed into this role and make it possible. In another sexual encounter with a women,
“Last night I was gettin’ my feet rubbed by the baddest b****
Not Trina but I swear to God, this b****’ll make you call your girl up
And tell her, ‘Hey, what’s good?
Sorry I’m never comin’ home, I’ma stay for good'”.
This experience shows how he plays into the role that allows morally poor women to thrive by choosing a girl that he finds extremely attractive over a girl that has a good personality. This shows that attractiveness can take a women very far in the lifestyle that he lives, because famous men like him prioritize it so much.
“Burning Pile” is a song by Mother Mother and was on the album “O My Heart”. The song is about how us as people go through struggles all the time and sometimes we fell as though we are drowning in a pile of shame and anxiety that has been pushed onto us by the world. However, we can all prosper if we throw all of our problems into a theoretical burning pile.
Throughout the entirety of the song, the band describes different scenarios in which the main character of the song is describing that things that they do and how they believe that they are a horrible person for doing them.
All my money been a long time spent
On my drugs, on my rent
On my saving philosophy
It goes, one in the bank, and the rest for meMother Mother, “Burning Pile” O My Heart
Immediately after each of the stanzas where it talks about the shame, the song then switches the tone and says how there is hope for the main character and all they need to do is throw them in a burning pile and they will start to be happy.
all my troubles on a burning pile
All lit up and I start to smileMother Mother, “Burning Pile” O My Heart
The song gives the reader a feeling of hope. That even though things seem bleak, we all still have the ability to be happy and at peace with ourselves. All we need to do is throw our problems at a burning pile and forget about them.
On his hit 2021 Album Donda, Kanye West had several popular rap songs with lots of deep meaning behind the lyrics. One of the most prevalent tracks on this album is called Hurricane written and produced by Kanye West himself, featuring The Weeknd (Abel Makkonen Tesfaye) and Lil Baby (Dominique Jones). The three artists featured in this song rap about their past experiences with certain vices, hardships, and mental struggles (of which they are not proud) and how they have escaped their past through finding God and devoting their life to Christianity. This song can be considered poetry because of the several striking lines and deep meaning in the song.
One of the most powerful segments of the song comes during Kanye West’s first verse when he says;
Sixty-million dollar home, never went home to it
Genius gone clueless, it’s a whole lot to risk
Alcohol anonymous, who’s the busiest loser?
These lines are especially powerful because they each convey a struggle that West has dealt with despite his fame and great success. The first line represents how West is unable to spend time with his family because of his job. This is especially powerful because it is coming at a time where West is going through a divorce and will likely never be with his family in the same way he used to. The second line represents West’s lack of direction in his life. He is often referred to as a lyrical and musical genius, but when he says he has “gone clueless” this represents the lack of purpose and direction in West’s life. The last line shows that West still struggled with substance abuse even when he became rich and famous. Overall West’s verse on the song represents the inevitable worldly struggles faced by everyone.
In The Weeknd’s (Abel Makkonen Tesfaye) chorus he sings about how religion has saved him when he says;
I see you in 3D, the dawn is bright for me
No more dark for me, I know You’re watchin’ me
Eighty degrees, burnin’ up the leaves
Finally, I’m free, finally, I’m free
As I go out to sea, I can walk on water
Won’t you shine Your light? Demons stuck on my shoulder
Father, hold me close, don’t let me drown
I know You won’t
This final chorus contains several striking lines. In the first two lines, Tesfaye describes how God’s guidance has opened his eyes and given new meaning to life. The final two lines are debatably the most powerful of the entire song. Tesfaye describes how he has put his full trust in God. Overall Tesfaye’s verse represents rebirth and renewal through God and how God is more powerful than worldly problems.
West and Tesfaye’s verses have a very stark contrast in terms of message and meaning. But when seen in context next to each other we can see the meaning behind the juxtaposition of these two verses. West describes the hardships of being a human, and how money fails to solve these hardships, while Tesfaye describes God’s ability to solve any problem no matter how great. When combined these two messages represent West and Tesfaye’s struggles in life, they thought that riches and fame would solve these issues, but in the end, they learn that God is the answer to all of their worldly problems.
In the song, “Rät” from her Public Void album, Penelope Scott airs her feelings of disappointment and betrayal stemming from her disillusionment with “the tech cult that is Silicon Valley.” The song, originally debuted in its stripped-down acoustic version on Tik Tok, was initially called “Elongated Muskrat” as a reference to Elon Musk, one example of the Silicone Valley scientific community that the speaker had looked up to. Through the song, Scott conveys the experience of idolizing scientists and innovation before feeling betrayed and used after being exposed to the selfishness and greed endemic among the people she had once looked up to.
While she begins the song with a whirlwind of complex words and allusions delivered at great speed, when she reaches the chorus, she slows down and puts more emphasis on each simple word. The juxtaposition gives the impression that she is initially using her education and the complex tangents she goes on to circle around her feelings. However, during the choruses, the simplified language and repetition suggests that the speaker is confronting the brutal yet simple truth of her feelings, that she was fooled and used by the people she considered heroes.
I loved you
I loved you
I loved you
Scott also uses allusions to famous scientists in the past and in popular culture to help express her feelings, such as Nicola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Thomas Malthus, Charles Darwin, and Selmers of the video game “Night in the Woods.” For example, she sings,
I bit the apple cause I trusted you, it tastes like Thomas Malthus
Your proposal is immodest and insane
And I hope someday Selmers rides her f—–ng train
First, she references the story of Adam and Eve from the Bible, suggesting that that the person that she is talking to convinced her to do something wrong. That thing “tasted like Thomas Malthus,” a man who famously suggested that feeding the poor would be futile because it would lead them to reproduce and ultimately to more people to feed. His “scientific” ideas were used to justify a lack of assistance for the poor for many years, incorporating an example into the song of a scientist attempting to solve one of humanity’s major problems while instead callously writing off the deaths of the less fortunate as the price to be paid for the continuation of bourgeois society. The “immodest proposal” likely refers to the rebuttal to Malthus’ “A Modest Proposal”, a satire intended to counter his argument. Selmers, in “Night in the Woods”, is infuriated by the growing inequality in Silicon Valley of millionaires making millions more, while wages remain stagnant and the price of living rises. She talks about wanting to ride a train to Silicon Valley and burn it to the ground, which the singer seems to support. While the audience may not be familiar with all of the subjects Scott alludes to at first, when they are considered together, they incorporate even more stories of selfishness and pain caused by people who claim to use their minds to better the lives of others while instead disregarding those whose lives most need bettering.
Lastly, Scott uses a specific audience to make her arguments more personal. Instead of specifically naming the tech industry or the scientific community, she rages against a “you” that betrayed her after convincing her that they were going to change the world with the creations of their mind. While it is present throughout the song, the most prominent example of this is in the chorus, when she repeats that she “loved you”, but it is also displayed to effect when she sings,
So f–k your tunnels, f–k your cars, f–k your rockets, f–k your cars again
I can’t believe you tore humanity apart
With the very same machines that could have been our brand new start
And the worst part is
I loved you, I loved you, I loved you, it’s true
The listener gets the sense that the speaker is talking to a person rather than the greater community that the song is directed at and the experience of the betrayal that they are experiencing through the song feels that much more personal. By using the word “you”, she can convey the same message while simultaneously conveying the idea that a specific person broker her heart and showed their selfishness after promising her the world. The clear jab at Elon Musk in the song’s title and the references to him throughout the song also help to personalize the song because listeners can connect the ideas presented in the song with his story, especially through lines such as,
When I said take me to the moon, I never meant take me alone
I thought if mankind toured the sky it meant that all of us could go
This line seems to be a reference to Musk’s sale of commercial flights into space for the extremely wealthy and serves as another example of resources that could be put to the betterment of humanity being spent on selling one-of-a-kind experiences to the incredibly rich. The references to Musk give listeners a person to connect the song to and make the song more personal and easier to connect to as a listener.
“Rät” is a complex song completely stuffed with poetic language and meaning and these are only my favorite of the strategies that she uses to support the experience of the song, of idolizing a community and an idea that reveals it greed and selfishness, leaving the speaker feeling betrayed and used.
by Charles Dear
Imagine that your closest relative has just passed away. What do you do? What should you feel? The song “Helena” by American scene band My Chemical Romance is lead singer Gerard Way’s tribute to his late grandmother, and is a perfect encapsulation of all the raw feelings that arise in mourning. This song is part of the album Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, which is a concept album about two lovers who die. One of them runs into the devil after death, who promises that the two can be together again if he receives the souls of 1,000 evil men. Now, this song does not assume the same vengeful tone as the rest of the album, and deals in pure fact rather than Way’s creation. It is the opening track on the album. I think Way did that strategically, putting his painful experiences with death as a lead-off.
As much as this album works as a whole, I feel that “Helena” stands out. Way describes the song this way, “It’s about why I wasn’t around for this woman who was so special to me, why I wasn’t there for the last year of her life…an angry open letter to myself.” He was also a heavy drinker during this period. The best representation of this mentality is in the chorus. It is a simple four-liner: (“What’s the worst thing I can say/Things are better if I stay/So long and goodnight/So long and goodnight”). Anyway, it is evident that Way is caught between staying around and moving on in the wake of his grandmother’s death. He chooses the latter because he can’t say anything, and dislikes himself for it. I would like to expand on the “So long and goodnight” line on its own as well. It is in parentheticals in some versions of the song. As such, I would contend it is its most important line. Humans do not say “So long and goodnight” to each other. Each phrase on its own, yes, but together it seems too ominous and serves to illustrate the damning finality of death.
The pre-chorus also touches on Way’s loathing. It runs thusly: (“And what’s the worst you take/from every heart you break?/And like the blade you stain/Well I’ve been holding on tonight”). Way’s drinking problem is upsetting his family. Simultaneously, he has just been holding on to his life and sanity in the wake of such a tragedy. Since the format of the song is a letter to himself, the “you” and “I” in the pre-chorus refer to the same person.
I love how touching and poignant this song is. It is very hard to cope with the death of a loved one, but Gerard Way does just that in this song, with a delivery that is emotional but not effusive.
To fulfill or understand the notion of love may be impossible, however when written down the meanings are endless. To some, the song “Blue Eyed Girl” may just be another love song explaining the gratitude one has for his partner, but to the eye’s of poetry: a masterpiece is born within. Written by The Arcadian Wild and released on their first album, The Arcadian Wild, the song relays the importance of unconditional love and the impeccable impact love may have. In the album, “The Arcadian Wild”, love is written in traditional and non-traditional gestures, but mainly it lies in the perseverance of the eyes. The lasting connection that is drawn from one’s eyes helps explain what love means to one another, making this song a poetic masterpiece.
As the song begins, immediate gratification is brought to the listener’s ears through the lyrics of the first verse. Lincoln Mick, lead songwriter, displays a type of love where one partner can really can the other for the better. In this case, the narrator was a lost person before meeting her, and he was waiting for the day they may be together.
Well, I’d been writing songs about you
Before our paths ever crossed
And since I’ve been hanging around you
I’ve been feeling a little less lost
The narrator acknowledges the rhythm of her spirit created in him and only wants the world to see this side of her. The story of their love was that she saved him. She saved him from the grey world surrounding him, the dullness filling his life, and finding a will to continue on. He only wishes throughout this song, with revealing a signature feature of hers, that the world will interpret the beauty that lies within everyone.
Let the colors of your soul spill out for everyone to see
In a world of black, and white, and gray
You paint something beautiful every day
Through words of love and admiration, a poetic masterpiece is being produced. The poetic language being used, one could argue, resembles the truthness to their love story. Each one is to further display what this love from the blue eyed girl has done to impact his life. Instead of stating the obvious and letting the lyrics sit dully, the uses of allusion, diction, and metaphors help enhance the narrator’s meaning and importance of this blue eyed girl.
I’ll march right along to your beat
And the rhythm of your spirit makes me
Feel much more alive
There’s wisdom in the way you speak
And I see “I love you” in your eyes
In the particular verse brought to attention above, these uses of poetic language are strongest. The way his love is described to the audience through the diction chosen is very much alive. Using bright words such as spirit, alive, or even I love you all speaks to the audience to feel how he is feeling for the blue eyed girl. The uses of diction create butterflies in one’s stomach that last long enough to envy the love that exists in these verses. The metaphor that is fluent in this quick stanza is the last line, which goes back to the title of the song, “Blue Eyed Girl”. The metaphor that exists in the idea of eyes is represented throughout the song, however in this exact line, the strongest and realest meaning is shown. What the narrator is trying to express for why eyes mean so much to him is answered with this simple line. Knowing the impact of how the blue eyed girl created a new way of life to the narrator has been formed through each stanza, there has been subtle allusion to how she has truly impacted him. Alluding to the wisdom that she speaks is mentioned in this line, it represents how she has worked through personal confections with him. This poetic masterpiece, a sonnet one may argue, relays the everlasting impact of love with only a tone of love.
“Ivy” is the product of one of the most successful women to have ever graced the music industry. Track 10 on her 9th studio album evermore, Taylor Swift achieved some of the most beautiful lyricism of her career in this masterpiece. The subject of the poem is highly debated, many fans believing it narrates the love life of acclaimed writer Emily Dickinson, but the basic premise becomes clear as you listen: a married woman is in love with someone who is not her husband, and she grapples with the complex feelings associated with her adultery. Who it is about and Swift’s relationship with this experience is unknown, but one thing is astonishingly clear: the beautiful passion and depth of poetry is epitomized in the words. The poem coalesces many meanings in simple phrases, condensing great emotion into so few words. It uses extended metaphors, clever rhyming and scheme and beautiful imagery to convey a deeply emotional and heartbreaking experience.
The song opens establishing the setting, where the subject meets the lover she is addressing:
How’s one to know?
I’d meet you where the spirit
meets the bones
In a faith-forgotten land
In from the snow
Your touch brought forth an
Tarnished, but so grand
Like true poetry, so much meaning is condensed so closely in the first 13 words of the song. The line “where the spirit meets the bones” has many layers. As referenced later in the song, this line is about the physical place where they meet, a graveyard. The meaning is emotional as well, spirit and bone meet in the body, she met her lover with her whole body, her whole heart, her whole mind. The words “faith-forgotten” establish the circumstances under which they meet, the love is clearly adultery as the narrator’s husband is mentioned later in the song. “Incandescent” as an adjective has two definitions: 1. emitting light as a result of being heated and 2. full of strong emotion; passionate. Both definitions are used in these lines. As the narrator comes “in from the snow” she is met by the heat and light of her lover’s touch. A touch which is also full of strong emotion. Coming to her lover “from the snow” implies that her previous love was absent of incandescent glow. Or absent of the passion and warmth she finds with this new love. The final line of the first stanza characterizes the “glow” mentioned in the previous line. Tarnished elicits a feeling of age, a shine that has dulled from years of disuse, an odd word to describe so much passion. Swift follows tarnished with “but so grand”, though the love is “dulled” it is still great and beautiful. All of this emotion, meaning and experience is encompassed in so few words, just the first verse of a four and a half minute masterpiece.
The pre-chorus re-introduces the graveyard, adding more to our understanding of the budding romance:
And the old widow goes to the stone everyday
But I don’t I just stay here and wait
Grieving for the living
In describing a widow and the stone she visits, Swift brings back the graveyard setting. A woman who mourns the loss of her husband by visiting his gravestone. The narrator, however, does not have a gravestone to mourn a past lover, she stays in the graveyard “grieving for the living”. She is missing someone who is not dead, but somehow lost from her regardless. The most obvious interpretation that can be made from this is the loss of love, trust, faith or contact within the narrator’s marriage. She is grieving what she has lost in the marriage, at the same time, waiting in that graveyard for her new spark, confirmed in the first verse. She waits for new love in the death of her old one, Swift masterfully asserts through the physical and emotional location described in the song.
From here, the chorus is introduced:
My pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand
Taking mine, but it’s been promised to another
Oh, I can’t
Stop you putting roots in my dreamland
My house of stone, your ivy grows
And now I’m covered in you
Swift is implying the narrator’s pain is cradled easily in the lover’s hand, that the lover understands and nurses that pain so easily. The description “freezing hand” connects back to the first verse, where the lover’s touch is described as incandescent. The extended metaphor and contradiction here is difficult to understand at first, how can one both provide warmth and passion, but still themselves be frozen? The lover can not be made warm because they give love so intensely. Perhaps the lover remains so cold because the narrator can not provide the support they give in return, because of the “house of stone” mentioned later in the poem. Connecting one deeply moving metaphor to another, Swift brings us to the line that named the song: “My house of stone, your ivy grows / And now I’m covered in you”. Stone is timeless, strong, cold and unyielding and though it is tested by horrible storms and great tribulations, it stands. This can be wonderful to liken your heart to, because it means it can bear great hardship and still go on. It also means the narrator’s heart has endured quite a lot and therefore will not weaken to love. Except, of course, to this love, who weakens stone through ivy. Ivy is not violent, it doesn’t bring the stone down, it simply grows and flourishes on it and in it’s gentle expression of life, loosens the stone. The narrator’s cold, tested “house of stone” is now covered in the lover’s understanding and life-filled “ivy”.
The song continues into two more verses, three more choruses and a beautiful bridge that counters the expressions of love with those of anger, bringing emotional complexity to the song. In verse three Swift writes:
Clover blooms in the field
Spring breaks loose, the time is near
What would he do if he found us out?
Crescent moon, coast is clear
Spring breaks loose, but so does fear
He’s gonna burn this house to the ground
In one short rhyme scheme Swift utilizes multiple poetic devices. Metaphor is used to liken the new love to life of springtime bursting out into the world. It characterizes the nature of the relationship, inciting hope. The repetition of the second and fifth lines, induces a sense of anxiety in the listener. The reader experiences the narrator’s fear of being discovered. The repeated lines end in rhyme with each other, implying the connection between the joy of love and the fear of unfaithfulness are intertwined, emphasizing again the anxiety the repetition created. She concludes this portion of the song with a conclusion about her husband’s actions. That he would “burn this house to the ground”. Therefore extending another metaphor many verses into the song. The house the narrator and her lover have built, one of stone covered in ivy, will be destroyed and therefore the unique trust and love it represents. This line also characterizes the violence of the husband, that he would burn and destroy until there was nothing left. No shelter from the cold that is so often referenced in the song.
I would need a novel to explain all the poetry and deeper meanings written into this song, so I encourage anyone reading this to listen for themselves and feel the emotion Swift further demonstrates with musicality. This is a poem that needs to be heard to be understood. It is a masterpiece only Swift could conjure up.
The roots of racism in America can be traced back to the 1500s, when the first enslaved people were brought along the Middle Passage from West Africa to the Caribbean Islands and what would become the southeastern United States. The institution of slavery lasted for more than three centuries in the Western Hemisphere, with the importation of enslaved people to this area of the globe ending in 1808 and the practice of enslaving people ending shortly after the American Civil War. But racism in America, extreme prejudice taken against African-American people, has existed up until today, even through the Jim Crow and Civil Rights Movement era.
Given this context, when an artist writes a song about institutionalized racism in America, it is difficult for it not to sound cliche or dissolve into the basic moral of “everyone is human and should be treated equally.” But Kendrick Lamar’s The Blacker the Berry creates raw images of America’s institutionalized racism from both sides that make the song last in the listener’s mind as poetry.
The song begins with an interlude that seems to be from the perspective of a white slaveowner. At the end of each line, the perspective switches to that of a black person being sold into slavery.
Everything black, I don’t want black (they want us to bow) / I want everything black, I ain’t need black (down to our knees) / Some white, some black, I ain’t mean black (and pray to the God) / I want everything black (we don’t believe)The Blacker the Berry, Interlude
Each line of the first stanza begins with a white slaveowner who wants to purchase an enslaved person — he “want(s) black” but at the same time does not — and ends with the perspective of a black person thinking the thoughts the slaveowner doesn’t want them to think. The black person knows the manipulation and unfair labor they are about to endure, but cannot speak up to the white slaveowner, who makes all the choices and holds all the power. The idea of songwriting from the perspectives of the oppressor and the oppressed, rather than from a modern-day perspective, is what makes this song vivid poetry.
Lamar’s lyrics shift through time into the first verse, when the black man is a free, independent person who thinks what he wants to think and says what he wants to say. In this verse, he seems to being prosecuted for a crime illustrated in the bridge (“six in the morn / fire in the street”).
I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015 / Once I finish this witnesses will convey just what I mean / Been feelin’ this way since I was sixteen, came to my senses / You never liked us anyway, fuck your friendship, I meant itThe Blacker the Berry, Verse 1
Back in the present, Lamar portrays the speaker as someone who is angry at the treatment of black people throughout history. He seems to be predicting what the white man is about to say (“I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015”). He responds by telling the white man that he has come to his senses since his youth. This heated exchange conveyed through the mind of the oppressed illustrates modern-day racial stereotypes without directly saying them.
Every song is a poem, as long as it does not preach morals by giving the listener direct thoughts from the lyricist’s mind. A song is what you make of it, but you can only make something of it if it forces you to think about the lyricist’s emotions and motive for writing the song.
This is what “The Blacker the Berry” does, and this is what makes track 13 of “To Pimp a Butterfly” pure poetry. Switching back and forth between past and present, Lamar forces the listener not to hyperfocus on present-day racial prejudice (as songs like Lil Baby’s The Bigger Picture do), but to think about the centuries-long institution that made this racial prejudice come to be.
Continuing to switch back and forth between past (“Woi, we feel a whole heap of pain, cah’ we black / And man a say they put me inna chains, cah’ we black”) and present (“You hate me, don’t you? … Muscle cars like pull ups, show you what these big wheels ’bout”), Lamar calls out white people on their generational oppression of black people, pointing to the success black men such as him have today.
Before the outro, Lamar raps his final verse with defiance, establishing pride in his culture and racism as a generational issue.
The plot is bigger than me, it’s generational hatred / It’s genocism, it’s grimy, little justification / I’m African-American, I’m African / I’m Black as the heart of a fuckin’ Aryan”The Blacker the Berry, Verse 3
In Lamar’s last verse, he creates a call to action for the future, implementing all tenses into an issue that has defined American history.
When Harry Styles released his second studio album, most expected it to be the same type of music as his first. Slow, British rock, with a hint of pop. However, Fine Line was anything but expected. Even with how much more vibrant it was than the first album, it closed off with a 6 minute, melancholy finale, the namesake song for the album. While many of his other songs are pop-focused, “Fine Line” is a stand-alone piece of poetry. The song only has two main verses, but they are jampacked full of meaning. “Fine Line” takes a stab at analyzing the fine line between love and hate, or even more so, the fine line between entering a relationship and leaving one.
Put a price on emotion
I’m looking for something to buy
The song begins with a bold statement, making the listener wonder if there is a price on emotion, and how is it bought, even metaphorically. A reoccurring theme throughout the song, the speaker is struggling with finding the right way to go about love. This is almost a personification of a feeling, it could also be seen as a metaphor. Is love something that can be bought? And what is the cost?
My hand’s at risk, I fold
This is objectively the most meaningful line, or at least most poetic, in the whole song. To view its meaning as an allusion to gambling, like love being dealt like a hand of cards, it emphasizes the risks that come with love. To view this line as a metaphor of love, would be like saying that the second love is a risk, or a relationship is at risk for the speaker, they shut down and don’t know how to respond. This song uses lyrics as poetry to convey, or characterize, what the essence of love is and how easy it is broken.
Upon a first listen, the song “I Wanna Get Better” from Bleachers’ album Strange Desire can be seen merely as a catchy song to be blasted from car speakers while speeding down the highway. Upon further listening to the lyrics, however, you quickly realize that it is an emotional experience about someone battling depression merely moments away from killing themselves. The song, from the point of view of someone who is in a back and forth battle with themselves for their own life, details the extreme power depression can hold on a person and the devastating effects if that person can’t find an escape. The speaker’s deep sadness and longing are highlighted through the lines
The speaker is merely moments away from killing themselves in that instant, but they are stopped by a desire to get better. Bleachers use of rhythm illustrates the overwhelming panic and pain that the speaker was feeling and how quickly they were driven to the overpass. Although all else seems lost, they hold on to life because they have one person that inspires them to do so. The speaker then says, directly after the previous lines
This one person in the speakers life is the only one that gives them the motivation to keep going. Bleachers is able to demonstrate the importance of finding and keeping those people close to you for when it does seem impossible to keep going. Bleachers’ use of repetition serves multiple purposes in the song. Not only does it get stuck in your head, but it shows how the speaker is at their breaking point. Many people face depression and loss on a daily basis and sometimes it looks like there is no way out or reason to keep living. It is also often difficult to know, like the speaker, the extent to which you are feeling lost or that there is no way out until it is too late. It is only because of that one person in the speaker’s life that the speaker does actually want to get better and keep going.
Bleachers is able to detail the extent of the speaker’s sadness through use of specific words and phrases. the lines
Bleachers use of the words ‘stranger’, ‘permanent’, and ‘mourn’ highlight the speaker’s desire to return to a consistent life that they once had. They feel alienated and alone and feel as though they have lost themselves, a feeling that many people share at some point in their lives. In addition, the shifts in time throughout the song serve not only to communicate the backstory of the speaker, but also to provide a link between what the speaker is thinking in the moment to the audience. The speaker and audience may share some of the same feelings and emotions and provide solace for the audience by showing them that they are not alone in their feelings.
Throughout the rest of the song the speaker goes through a back and forth on that overpass of whether or not they will keep living before, ultimately, the song resolves with the chorus of them deciding to keep living and get better. Through this song, Bleachers conveys an important and powerful message to the world. The song serves to remind people that there are people in the world who love you and care about you and even though sometimes it may look like there is no hope left they are there to support you in getting better.
The song “Paul” was released in 2016 as a part of Big Thief’s album Masterpiece. The song follows the speaker’s reminiscence of a previous relationship. As the narrative unfolds the sentiment of the speaker becomes more clear: healthy relationships can not flourish when one of the individuals is not healthy themselves.
This overarching theme is established in many ways, the most notable of which is a consistent allusion to alcoholism. Throughout the song, the speaker includes mentions of drinking in a manner that suggests that her position in her former relationship was similar to that of an alcoholic. In the first verse, the speaker chastises herself, having almost “let him in ” again. While ruminating over this regret she remembers,
“Then he pulled the bottle out, And then he showed me what love was.”
The speaker is nodding to the idea that her and Paul’s love was similar to a bottle of alcohol – she knows havoc will ensue from indulging and yet she continues too because of an addiction. This idea come up again in lines like,
“I’ll be your real tough cookie with the whiskey breathe,”
“We were just two moonshiners on the cusp of a breathe,”
“I’ve been burning for you baby since the minute I left.”
All of these lines fit into the analogy of alcoholism which establishes the idea that this relationship was one of dependency and irresponsibility, rather than stability.
In addition to this analogy, the speaker uses a self effacing tone to establish her volatility in her relationship with Paul. This tone is first sparked in the chorus,
“I’ll be the killer and the thriller and the cause of our death.”
At first, this self deprecation is taken as playful in the context of the height of their relationship, but as the song goes on and the audience is guided through the course of their love, it becomes more clear that the speaker’s instability will be their demise. The speaker goes on to except her self doubts,
“As I realized there was no one who could kiss away my shit.”
This self-hating tone is once again sparked in the final moments of their relationship,
“I couldn’t stay, I’d only bring you pain.”
Taken altogether, the speaker’s self awareness creates a tone of progressing self loathing which helps the audience understand that the reason the two ultimately couldn’t stay together was because of the speaker’s unreliability. In conjunction with the analogy about alcoholism, it is established that the speaker learned from her relationship with Paul that she will never truly be content with another before she is content with herself.
In “Pyramids,” Frank Ocean shows how the power dynamic between Black and Europeans have shifted dramatically during Westernization through commentary from a Black male lover on a Black female lover in ancient Egypt and present day Las Vegas.
In the first part of the song, Ocean introduces “Cleopatra,” historically know as one of the most beautiful, important queens in world history. However, Cleopatra is not bathing in her lavish lifestyle. Instead, she is being chased, as there is “a thief out on the loose.” It appears that someone is trying to steal Cleopatra.
Later in the first part of the song, the speaker says, “I found you laying down with Samson and his full head of hair.” This line establishes that the speaker is a lover of Cleopatra and that he found her cheating on him. To further establish Cleopatra’s disloyalty, the speaker says, “Set the cheetah on the loose.” “Cheetah” can be heard as “cheater.” Furthermore, the line about Cleopatra cheating on her lover introduces the element of race. Samson, thought of as a white biblical figure, has stolen the queen of the black speaker. The speaker then says, “I found my black queen Cleopatra, bad dreams, Cleopatra.” To the speaker, Samson, or Europeans in general, has created nothing but “bad dreams” between him and his lover.
The next stanza, which can be identified in the song by a beat switch, mentions the speaker seeing the sun through the “motel blinds.” Instantly, we are in a modern era, 2,000 years detached from the first part of the song. To connect these two seemingly distinct parts, the speaker says, “Wake up to a girl/
For now, let’s call her Cleopatra, Cleopatra.” The speaker is still a Black lover, however, it can be inferred that Frank Ocean is the speaker himself. And similarly to the first part of the song, he loves a girl named Cleopatra.
Ocean describes this modern Cleopatra with her “lipstick,” “six-inch heels,” and “panties” to allude to the audience that Cleopatra is a stripper or sex worker. This description contrasts with the first part of the song. While Cleopatra was first the world’s most important, famous queen, her relationship with Samson, which can represent interaction with Europeans, has turned her into a low-status stripper.
To connect everything together, Ocean repeats the line, “She’s working at the pyramid tonight.” Ocean is referring to the “fake” pyramid in Las Vegas, not the real ones of Giza. This line confirms that Cleopatra is a stirpper or sex worker, but it also alludes to where Cleopatra, or black women, actually belong. Because Ocean shows a black woman working at a fake pyramid, it can be implied that he thinks she doesn’t actually belong, especially because she is still being referred to as Cleopatra. Cleopatra should be returned to her rightful pyramid where she is appreciated as a queen.
Doja Cat also known as Amala Ratna Zandile Dlamini, also known Miss Poetic Mastermind just recently released the most versatile album of 2021, Planet Her. Despite all of the songs being masterpieces, one outshines the other. “Woman,” the first track, not only does it have a positive message, it conveys it through so many literary elements. Throughout this song, Doja is able to convey how we as women need to be aware of how complex we are and stay unified because society will always try to pit us against each other.
My favorite thing about Doja Cat is her versatility, her central theme always stays more or less the same but each flow she spits out will be unique
Gotta face a lot of people of the opposite
‘Cause the world told me, “We ain’t got the common sense”
This line shows extreme significance to the message Doja is trying to convey. When she sings “the people of the opposite”, she is referring to men and then she leads into the next line saying how the world will bring down women. It’s a great use of personification seeing as the world can’t physically speak. But the use of personification goes to shows the impact the world has and what expectations they hold women to.
They wanna pit us against each other
When we succeedin’ for no reasons
They wanna see us end up like we Regina on Mean Girls
This line supports the theme as it is able to convey the significance of women being unified by using a similie. A modern one at that. This shows how women tend to be pitted against each other when we succeed. There’s this notion that there can’t be more than one woman succeeding at a time and if there is then they should be in competition. In the movie Mean Girls, The main character was at odds with Regina George – the school mean girl (and most popular) because the main character was gaining more popularity than Regina George. Regina is notorious for making girls life miserable hence the similie ” they wanna see us end up like we Regina on Mean Girls”
She give tenfold, come here, papa, plant your seed
She can grow it from her womb, a family
The use of extended metaphor here does a great job at highlighting another complexity that comes with being a woman. She compares a woman’s ability to get pregnant and the act of reproducing to a plant/flower growing. She extends this metaphor across the two lines, starting with
Papa, plant your seed
This compares the act of insemination to planting a seed, and planting a seed can also be defined as building a foundation. I think you can interpret this metphor in a numerous of types of way and that speaks a lot about her versatility.
These are a couple of examples as to why I asmire the way Doja Cat presents her music.