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The Soul Cages -- Gordon Matthew 'Sting' Sumner

continuing the rock lyrics theme...
(Poem #114) The Soul Cages
A boy child lies locked in the fisherman's yawl
There's a bloodless moon where the oceans die
A shoal of nightstars hang fire in the nets
And the chaos of cages where the crayfish lie.

Where is the fisherman, where is the boat?
Where is the keeper in his carrion coat?
Eclipse on the moon where the dark birds fly
Where is the child with his father's eyes?

He's the King of the Ninth World
Twisted son of the fog bell's toll
In each and every lobster cage,
A tortured human soul.

These are the souls of the broken factories
Subject slaves of the broken crown
Dead accounting for old broken promises,
These are the souls of the broken town.

    These are the Soul Cages,
    These are the Soul Cages.

"I have a wager," the brave child spoke,
The Fisherman laughed, though disturbed at the joke.
"You will drink what I drink, and you must equal me,
If the drink leaves me standing, a soul shall go free.

I have here a cask of most magical wine,
A vintage that's blessed every ship in the line.
It's wrung from the blood of the sailors who died,
Young white bodies adrift in the tide."

"What's in it for me, my pretty young thing?
Why should I whistle when the caged bird sings?
If you lose a wager with the King of the Sea,
You'll spend the rest of forever in the cage with me."

    These are the Soul Cages,
    These are the Soul Cages.

A body lies open in the Fisherman's yawl,
Like the side of a ship where the iceberg rips.
One less soul in the Soul Cages,
One last curse on the Fisherman's lips.

        And he dreamed of a ship on the Sea,
        That would carry his father and he,
        To a place they would never be found,
        To a place far away from this town.
        A Newcastle ship without coals,
        That would sail to the Island of Souls.

    These are the Soul Cages,
    These are the Soul Cages.
-- Gordon Matthew 'Sting' Sumner
The difficulty in writing truly good lyrics (especially to popular
music) is that the form-content relationship is emphasized a good deal
more than it is in ordinary (ie, printed) poetry. The lyrics have not
only to conform to the constraints of metre, rhyme, scansion and
emphasis, they have to fit in with the 'mood' of the music - which last
task is far tougher to accomplish from scratch than it appears to be.
That's what I like about today's piece of poetry - Sting's evocative
lyrics merge with some multilayered background music to form a
wonderfully dense piece of aural experience, but at the same time, the
music doesn't detract from the fact that 'The Soul Cages' is an
excellent ballad in and of itself.

As for 'hidden meanings', well, there are any number of possible
explanations to the lyrics... they're supposed to be a psychoanalyst's
delight. You're welcome to come up with your own interpretation(s) of
the symbolism used; in the meantime, I'm going back home to listen to
the CD :-).

thomas.

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