Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Decembrists - The Island (Come and See)

Even though this song is visually divided up into three mini-songs, a general overlapping story seems to pop-out pretty clearly to me.  My interpretation of this is that the story is about a pirate landing on a hidden island, finding and raping a woman, and then killing her.  Where did I come up with a pirate?  While the term "pirate" is not mentioned anywhere in the song, the fact that the main character carries a saber and a pistol and the manner in which he addresses the landlord's daughter, "I'll take no gold miss, I'll take no silver / I'll take those sweet lips, and I'll deliver" just absolutely screams pirate to me.  The raping and the killing of her seem fairly obvious beyond that just by looking at the lyrics.

On the topic of formatting, the unusual rhyme scheme jumped out at me.  At the beginning of the song, we have a rhyme scheme in the first, second, and forth stanzas, each however having a different pattern (AABBAC, DDEECCC, LMNNMCC, respectively).  Also interesting to note is that the chorus (stanza three and five) make absolutely no use of rhyming.  Then, in the second mini-song, there is rhyming with water and daughter and silver and deliver, but that's it.  And lastly, in the third mini-song, rhyming seems to disappear save for the second and forth lines of stanzas one and two ( I won't consider repeating lines to be part of a rhyming pattern here).  What this means in relation to the story of the poem, I'm not quite sure, unless the gradual loss of rhyme is supposed to go along with the poem becoming darker in meaning.

Since the allusion to Sycorax was mentioned in class, I should probably address that.  Obviously as discussed in class, it is a reference to a witch in Shakespeare's Tempest (actually, I don't think she was a character in the play, I think she was only referenced).  Sycorax's son was Caliban, a deformed creature, and he had tried to rape Miranda, Prospero's daughter.  This rape obviously could be tied to the rape in the song.  And the landlord could be a reference to Prospero.  However, I hesitate to say that the song is entirely about that because I don't see a connection to the opening and closing mini-songs.

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