“Song of Ourselves”

Coming off our final unit on Romantic poetry, specifically a deep dive into Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, we wrote a final send-off poem together, inspired by Whitman’s send-off in section 52 of “Song of Myself.”

Here is the text version of our “Song of Ourselves.”  And here is our video:

“Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson

In this absolutely surreal time, it is important to remember that “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” – Kelly Clarkson. This song is not only poetic in its lyrics, it is also inspiring during this global pandemic when things seem like they’ve hit rock bottom.

Thanks to you
I’m finally thinking about me
You know in the end
the day you left was just my beginning

One thing that really stands out about this line is the antithesis. Using “end” and “beginning” is an important contrast and it shows that although it may have been the end of a relationship for Kelly, it was the only the beginning of the rest of her life where she can really focus on herself. This really applies to us seniors because even though our senior year ended all too soon, it is really only the beginning of our lives. We have so much to look forward to.

What doesn’t kill you makes a fighter
Footsteps even lighter
Doesn’t mean I’m over cause you’re gone

This line metaphorically explains why going through something tough makes a person stronger. Your footsteps don’t actually get lighter, you just feel better after you have been through something that was really hard. I think this is an amazing way to portray successfully getting through a struggle and it is a nice reminder to all of us that quarantine is not going to kill us. In fact, it will make us appreciate seeing friends, going to school, and being able to go out to dinner so much more.

I think that this song is a great addition to our Positivity Playlist. It helps us remember that we need to stay optimistic about our current situation because we can only go up from here.

Why “Wild Roses” is a Song of Positivity and Empathy

My submission to the songs of positivity and empathy playlist was “Wild Roses,” from Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men’s third album Fever Dream. I personally loved this album, even as it departed somewhat from the band’s style in their first two albums, which you probably knew if you read my review of it in the Trapeze last semester. “Wild Roses” happens to be my favorite song on that album. However, it’s not an obviously cheery song like some of the other songs on the playlist, and so I’d like to explain why I picked it, other than just liking it. And maybe do a little bit of line-by-line music poetry analysis, too. The song’s exact meaning is a little vague, but I’ll be talking about the general sense I get from it.

(Go listen to the song before you read if you’re at all interested.)

Wild roses on a bed of leaves in the month of May

I think I wrote my own pain

Oh, don’t you?

This line is an interesting way to open the song. “Wild roses” are an important metaphorical symbol in the song, perhaps representing sweetness or peace in a natural sense, but they’re also not, which is important. The word “wild” here is definitely somehow relevant, and I think it is referring to the speaker; they may appear nice, but there’s an edge, a neurosis that’s eating them up somehow, perhaps? I’ll get back to roses. “I think I wrote my own pain” suggests that the speaker is suffering and brought it upon themselves somehow, which isn’t exactly a message of positivity, although I’m sure we all can empathize with that.

Down by the creek, I couldn’t sleep so I followed a feelin’

Sounds like the vines, they are breathing

Even though the speaker is tormented, nature is at peace elsewhere, and this gives them some solace. This is part of why I consider this song to be one of positivity: not unbridled light, but light within darkness. But it’s a little too early in the song for me to be generalizing a theme.

And I’ve seen the way the seasons change when I just give it time

But I feel out of my mind all the time

Things do get better and the world does go on if we give it time, but it isn’t easy to do that. The speaker feels trapped in their neuroses and struggles, like it’s never going to get better.

In the night I am wild-eyed, and you got me now

This line is the first time we’ve heard of someone other than the speaker, as well as the reuse of the word “wild.” The speaker is evidently going through a dark time, which the night may be a symbol for, but there is someone here to help.

Oh, roses, they don’t mean a thing, you don’t understand

But why don’t we full on pretend?

Oh, won’t you?

“That which we call a rose / by any other name would smell as sweet.” So goes the famous line from Romeo and Juliet, and I think there’s definitely a loose connection there. Much like Juliet questioned the utility or necessity of the word “rose,” the speaker questions their utility as a metaphorical concept. Roses don’t mean anything. They’re just flowers. We assign symbolic purpose to them as heralds of beauty and romance, but there’s nothing that really makes a rose romantic beyond smelling nice. Mentioning how roses don’t really mean anything is a bold choice in a not otherwise especially deconstructive song named after roses, but it’s the next line that intrigues me. “But why don’t we full on pretend?” Sure, roses don’t mean anything, but that doesn’t mean we can’t pretend they do. Ultimately, the speaker just wants someone to engage in this pretending with them.

Before I closed my eyes I saw a moth in the sky

And I wish I could fly that high

Oh, don’t you?

Humans can’t actually fly above the clouds like insects and birds can. Not without heavy equipment or vehicles, anyway. Flying is the quintessential fantastical dream of humankind, and like the previous lines imply, the speaker wants to make-believe, to wish for better things even in their dark state.

A serpent on a bed of leaves in the month of May

What do you want me to say?

Rather than wild roses, the speaker now refers to themselves as a serpent, often associated with evil or sin in many different religious and cultural traditions (which is totally unfair; snakes are cool, y’all). “What do you want me to say?” implies that they are acknowledging their perceived “evil”; the speaker is filled with some amount of self-loathing, and has no good response to it.

You keep me still when all I feel is an aimless direction
When I think I’m losin’ connection
I see you

Despite the alienation and despair the speaker may be feeling, however, the person they are speaking to is still there for them, no matter what.

In the night I am wild-eyed, and you got me now

Dim the lights, we are wild-eyed, and you got me now

The pre-chorus repeats here, but with a change: “we are wild-eyed.” Not only is the speaker’s friend still here for them, no matter what, the song also acknowledges that both of them are wild-eyed. Both people have their own struggles, but the important thing is that they’re there for each other.

Repeat chorus and pre-chorus.

So, what was the point of that little sojourn? I suppose my point was that “Wild Roses” is not a simply happy song, but it is an optimistic one, and ultimately kind of existential in its message. Nothing has inherent meaning, and we all struggle in a world beyond our abilities, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be there for each other, acknowledge each other’s plights, and “pretend” — assign our own meanings, try to fly anyway. That’s the best we can do in an existential world, and there’s a certain optimism and beauty in that.

Music Poetry: Neil Young’s Don’t Let it Bring You Down

I’ve been trying hard to find song which resonates what we’re all experiencing with this pandemic and I felt that Neil Young’s “Don’t Let it Bring You Down” off of his After The Gold Rush album fits my current mindset perfectly.

The title of the album itself is one which portrays my generation’s feelings toward the pandemic. Without any real wars or other mass pandemics like this one, my generation has gotten pretty easy up until this point. However, we, for the most part, have been so safe and healthy that we hadn’t even realized how good we’ve had it.

For the rest of our lives we will be living in the time after the gold rush. Coronavirus should be a huge wake up call to anyone, myself included, who has lived without any real worries and expected life to be handed to them.

In “Don’t Let it Bring You Down,” Young speaks of staying positive through hardship, which is exactly what we all most do, among other things, to get through this pandemic quickly and safely.

Old man lying
By the side of the road
With the lorries rolling by
Blue moon sinking
From the weight of the load
And the buildings scrape the sky

Cold wind ripping
Down the alley at dawn
And the morning paper flies
Dead man lying
By the side of the road
With the daylight in his eyes

Don’t let it bring you down
It’s only castles burning
Find someone who’s turning
And you will come around

We’re all old men on the side of the road and it seems as if the world is sinking from the weight of our worries. However, this is only castles burning and it will pass. So find someone with a positive mindset and follow them and eventually we will get through this and be happy.

Music Poetry – “Dreams” by The Cranberries

Listening to this song the other day, I couldn’t help but think about how it relates to our current situation. Although the song is actually about falling in love with a person that changes the direction of your life, I think the connection to today is that life can always change unexpectedly.

Oh, my life

Is changing every day

In every possible way

In an erie tune, the song begins by reminding us of the randomness of our day to day, that anything can happen. Covid19 has taken over our lives in a lot of ways over such a short period of time. I would never imagine that I would spend my last semester of high school at home, staying 6-10 feet from my friends, and with a real unknown hanging over my head: How long will this last? And although it is pretty depressing, it also is an opportunity to do things I never could have done without all of this time. From helping my parents with yard work, cleaning out my closet, embroidering the crap out of my clothes, and reading books regularly for the first time since elementary school. The virus is a truly horrible thing, but there still can be a silver lining.

And oh, my dreams

It’s never quite as it seems

Never quite as it seems

The artist goes on to sing about a change in expectations. Her dreams have changed in a way unimaginable because of a person who has entered her life. She never thought she would dream how she is now. I also think about this in a way that many of my hopes for this year seem small compared to the things I hope for now. I’m no longer preoccupied by prom plans or sport seasons, but I hope that my family stays healthy and that researchers will be able to find solutions in the pandemic.

The rest of the song explains that as her life changes with this person (or new situation) her new dreams become stronger and more and more tangible. Every day, we are closer to the end of this quarantine, even though it seems so far away.

Ending on the same two verses (except for a small change), the song leaves the listener with a strange feeling. As much as everything has changed, it will still change again.

Josh Ritter’s “Homecoming”

When thinking of songs to add to our playlist, I couldn’t leave out Josh Ritter’s “Homecoming,” not only because of it’s novel-like lyrics but also because we are spending a lot of time in our homes and becoming sick of them, (which we may regret when we are gone.)

I think this song can have a different meaning to everyone, because it plays into feelings that everyone is familiar with.  Home can mean many things: the place you grew up, a place you feel most comfortable in, or a person. Regardless, I think the song brings up a good memory for everyone, and gets you excited.

Ritter begins talking about the changing seasons, singing:

The nights are getting colder now

The air is getting crisp

I first tasted the universe on a night like this

The word choice in these lines gives the listener a sense of excitement and anticipation.  The listener can almost taste the cold, crisp air on their tongue, an energizing feeling. Ritter goes on to a more serious line, singing:

In a place where the tree of good and evil still resides

This metaphor reminds the listener of the complexity of returning to memories like this.  Although he acknowledges that memories consistent with home may have layers and could bring up bad ideas, he keeps the tone positive.  It does not take away from his love and excitement of coming home.

He also layers a lot of sounds and phrases throughout the song, including, “My heart will stay,” “Hey now, don’t go away now,” and “Homecoming.”

The repetition of these rhythms and phrases makes the listener lose themselves almost like in a trance, thinking about the memory that comes to mind.  This song captures the wistful nature about thinking back, and also the pleasure of the memory. Ritter tells a story through “Homecoming” that you can picture, because you have probably been there yourself.

I’m Still Standing by Elton John and Bernie Taupin

Poetry Analysis

Repetition

I’m still standing yeah yeah yeah
I’m still standing yeah yeah yeah”

Don’t you know I’m still standing better than I ever did
Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid

These four lines are repeated throughout the song since they are a part of the chorus. They are also reiterated on multiple occasions to suggest to the audience of this song that the singer is going to persevere and persist through the hardship the intended audience put them through. When listening to the song, it is clear that the purpose of the writer or singer is to prove that they are getting over a person, over a hardship, or over a circumstance that is not optimal to them.

Why I chose it for the playlist

The playlist constructed by Bernie, which I listen to on the daily, is meant to procure a sense of positivity and resiliency in the listener. During this time of uncertainty with the coronavirus looming large, I felt like a song about getting over adversity would help work towards the goal of the playlist.

This song has always been helpful for me when I have felt the hardship of an unexplained or upsetting circumstance, and I feel like it can help out anybody who feels like this virus has done them wrong. This virus is unexplainable. I have tried to reason with why it has to occur now, and I have yet to find an answer. I dread over the idea of never going back to OPRF as a student again. I miss my classmates, my teachers, and my friends. This song doesn’t solve those grievances, but it helps.

I hope it can help you too.

(My binge watch suggestion of the day is to check out the movie Sing)

(If you don’t know, the picture is a character from the movie who sings this song)

Celebrate Everyday Like A Birthday

For one of my posts, I decided to analyze one of my favorite songs, “Sky Walker” by Miguel and featuring Travis Scott. To me, the overall purpose of the song is to show that although you may not be in control of what happens to you in life, you ARE in control of how you let things affect you and you have the ability to grow from pain instead of letting it set you back.

The opening line of the song, “Quick to dead the bull like a matador”, is repeated many times and I think it is one of the most important lines in the song. I believe that Miguel is trying to say that whatever problems or hardships you may come across, it is better to face them head on and deal with them instead of compartmentalizing them, which only hurts you more later in life. You have the power to break out of bad habits and let go of negatives that are only bringing you down.

One of the next lines, “Don’t sleep you gotta stay up”, is talking about paying attention. Paying attention to the people around, your surroundings, and living in the moment of your experiences. It also means paying attention to yourself, and staying true to your own morals and beliefs throughout any craziness you may face in life.

He then says, “I’m outstanding so I stand out”. This might be a little bit cheesy, but I think the message is to show the power of your own confidence. We are constantly told to be confident and release our insecurities, but then insulted when we love ourselves “too much” or compliment any part of ourselves. I think Miguel is trying to say that it’s GREAT to be proud of yourself and you should always recognize your own value and worth.

In the chorus of the song, he states “I’m Luke Skywalkin’ on these haters”, maybe a little corny, but I think it carries a much deeper meaning. Luke Skywalker is the “chosen one” and carries a tremendous amount of strength and perseverance. In a world where one can be a “hater” by simply typing something negative on their phone, it’s important to rise above and thrive despite the hate.

He ends the song by stating, “First you put the work in til it works out / Work it out til it’s turnt out”. I think this line is really powerful and an excellent conclusion to the song because he is saying that you need to work hard and give your all, and eventually you will get a positive return.

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.