The Lyrics


When I was Young, as once I was, as all have been that shall be seen,

I took a vow to be good as gold, ’til, as with all, I did grow old.

And now I live alone with all my cares.

And my body will decay somewhere.


And until we all fall down into the cold, hard ground,

I’ll make my only home within this house of skin and bone.


When I was young, I came of age: I turned my cuffs and buttoned down.

I paved the way for brighter days and set to work putting the word around.

And then I fell among the twisted vines

And lost my taste for any kind of wine


And until we all fall down into the cold, hard ground,

I’ll make my only home within this house of skin and bone


Now I am old and full of pain: I’m living off the grape and grain.

I have a taste for liquid sin; a taste for whisky, a taste for gin

And I spit upon the face of all that’s good

And light a righteous fire of holy wood


And until we all fall down into the cold, hard ground,

I’ll make my only home within this house of skin and bone. 


I live so close to you: I feed your cat.

You see that as a weakness: I pray on that.

I turn you into a monster and hunt you down,

And end up turning the sides of your sought-after smile upside-down.


You make things out of flowers and I choose to frown.

While I make jokes for the sake of it, you made a lavender crown,

And the last time that somebody made me a crown, I was young and hung up on an imminent kiss,

And I haven’t a clue why the lavender you chose to bind me reminds me of this…


We play Beggar-My-Neighbour and you beg to leave.

I make the most of the weather and play Forty Thieves,

And you might think there isn’t much room in a heart that’s as full of the colours of Autumn as this,

But there’s room for a little one next to my chest where the branches of lavender twist.


She says “I want to be alone with all my charms, and I want to be at my best when he comes,

When he comes with his courtesies, all wide-eyed and wan, and I want to be on my own when he comes.”

And he comes full of promises and perfumed pretence,

And he yields to her beckoning, and charm is his best defence against the darkness.


He says “I never knew a beauty so obscured and I never knew a legend so unsung”,

And he’s tongue-tied and fumbling, all fingers and thumbs,

And he wants to be at his best when he comes.

And he talks of the golden age and he talks of the past,

And when we spill form the candlelight, we’ll see how long his stories last,

And we are the Virgin of Babylon and the Maid of Bath, and we outshine the multitudes by more than half.


You have never seen a lover run so fast as one who tries to flee a present past,

With the taste of living death stuck on his tongue. You will never see a lover so undone.

And youth is wasted on everyone, not just the young,

And beauty is unparalleled poison, and time a web that’s spun by broken-hearted women.


Your father was the best of men: he took you to the park

And he named the birds for you; the sparrow and the lark

And the kittiwake in flight in the cloudless, azure sky,

And that sky was never dark.

Your father took you to the park.


When you feel it when you’re coming down, believe it: the dreadful sound

Of a heart thumping on in an empty chest and the sighing of a soul that has known no rest,

And go and tell everyone that you know that you can’t get through this on your own.


Your father died on Father’s Day: what a way to stick it to the man,

And with such a tiny bang, he set the sky on fire.

You can still make out the sound with an ear pressed to the ground

At the spot where he lay.

Your father died on Father’s Day.


If you feel it when you’re coming down, believe it: the dreadful sound

Of an echo of an echo in the hollow earth and the sinking of a soul that knows its worth,

And go and tell the first person that you meet that you’re going to land on your own two feet.

My father was his father’s son: that’s all I’ll say for now.

Life has changed for everyone, it does not matter how:

Just acknowledging this fact brings my full attention back

To the song that must be sung.

My father was his father’s son.


And I feel it when I’m coming down. I know it: the dreadful sound.

And I’ll tell it to the highest power that I know, that I’m going to get through this on my own,

And I’ll tell it to the very first person that I meet that I plan to land on my own two feet.


Your father was my father, too, and some of what I have said is true.

My father was a couple of those discussed, and some of those children were us.


Is this the house in which I used to live, or is it somebody else’s life?

What has become of all my precious things? What has become of my radiant wife?

I have become the things I heard the most because it’s easier than to change.

What has it done for me but make things worse? What has it done for the human race?


I live where I always did. I hang out with the same three people.

I go to most of the places I used to go, but never to those I went with you.

I remain undaunted by thoughts of sacrifice. Perpetually haunted by a short November night.

You stay exactly where you are: I will come when I hear the call.

And we’ll go to all of the places we meant to go, but never had time before the fall.


And there’s a stray dog in the middle of the pavement

And he walks towards me with a mind to kill and I can’t help but keep perfectly still

And he doesn’t have all his limbs, and that doesn’t seem to bother him

And he raises his black eye to the ever-reddening sky

And I walk feet-first into a hole in the ground

And I’m captivated by the unmistakable sound

Of a red-breasted friend singing god-knows-what

In the cold, damp darkness of a wood

And there’s an oasis in the middle of the desert

And I muster all the air I have left for the steam-train wisp of a final breath

And there isn’t any water there: it’s a product of the thinning air

And everything fades to red in my ever-blackening head

And I find myself in a hole in the ground

And I’m comforted by the unmistakable sound

Of a choir of friends singing mystical songs

And the low, far-off tolling of a bell

And the bell tolls once for the nightingale

And then a second time for the rook

And a third for all the love we made

And a fourth for that I took

And there’s a stray dog

And there’s a stray dog

There’s a stray dog

8 – Eclogue

If not the song of something aloft and further on, perhaps the snap of taking to flight and turning back?

I know you’re coming back: I follow in your tracks ’til the cold earth is colder still and I am beckoned on

By the bells of some cathedral, or the blackbird’s unrepeating song.

So to and fro my wandering feet are wont to go, among the marked, hysterical landscape of our past.

This place is meant to bear your traces everywhere, but sometimes, I must admit, I make out none of it

In the gruff voice of the gravel, or the water’s unreflecting pall.

Too much is made of missing the best part of the day: the days roll on and over the men most put-upon.

I go where I am told – obedient to the last – and seek out remembrance in every blade of grass,

On the blue breath of the morning, or by the ruddling of an afternoon.

I do my best at putting a fretful heart to rest, too sore to sing the song of a mind’s unravelling.

I know you’re coming back, I know this for a fact from the tokens and forget-me-nots which hang from every flower,

Or from the branches of an old tree: either way, it’s all the same to me.


Are you happy where you are? Are you living off the land?

Not looking at any horses or biting any hands?

Which way are you leaning in this constant, cold wind?

Have you found some shelter, and can I come in?

Anywhere there’s a river or a hand to hold,

Anywhere there’s anyone worth kissing,

Anywhere there is someone who’ll allow me to be there,

Anywhere, anywhere, anywhere.


Are you keeping all your friends within reach of where you live?

Wondering which ones to abandon and which ones to forgive?

Will you keep a welcome for the ones who know you best?

And take your own advice and find some rest?

Anywhere there’s a pillow with a head to hold,

Anywhere there’s anyone worth holding,

Anywhere there’s a covering of honey-coloured hair,

Anywhere, anywhere, anywhere.


Anyhow, it scarcely matters, neither to me nor to you,

Bearing in mind what I was told, what I hold to be true:

There is no-one in this world who loves you,

There is no-one in this world who cares.


Oh, anywhere there’s a lover with time to kill,

Anywhere there’s any time worth killing.

I’ll take an open-air hideout on the brow of a hill

Anywhere, anywhere, anywhere.


I wanted you to know that things which break are not always so,

The broken still grow, or so I’m told.

Take comfort from the fact that those who’ve gone are not coming back:

I’m certain of that,

And I’m not afraid to know it’s over when we go, or so I’m told.

I’m here to break your fall. That’s not to say I don’t share your fears:

I’m still growing tall and long in years.

I’m loathe to wake you up, as much as I am scared to let you sleep:

You’re not mine to keep,

But I’m not afraid to know it’s over when we go, no not at all



I know I don’t have to, but I want to

I know you won’t care and you shouldn’t have to

I’ve made up my mind, made up my mind

I’ve made up my mind, made up my mind

I know I don’t have to, but I want to

I know you shouldn’t care and you won’t have to

After today it’s out of my hands

After today it’s off your plate

I know I don’t have to, but I want to

I know you won’t care, but I want to show you

How to put friends and family first

How to prepare for the very worst


All lyrics © Tim Dickinson 2017