Stylistically, this song seems to resemble a long ballad in the tradition of “Dark Side of the Moon,” several different songs all woven by one overlapping topic. “The Island” comes off as a somber and violent tale of an oppressive power “producing pistol and saber” and taking what they wish, be it land, or in this case women. What was probably a proud and prosperous land becomes a land of death and despair, similar to that of British Colonialism (i.e. India and Ireland). The imagery in the last stanza caught my eye the most. The aftermath of the soldier’s rape on the landlord’s daughter results in her death. As she falls deeper and deeper into the water, the sick man committing the crime gives her two coins on her eyes as payment for the boatman down the River Styx, if one believed in such a thing. It puts a haunting image into my head when the main chorus is sung.
“Go to sleep now little ugly
Go to sleep now you little fool
You’ll not feel the drowning
You’ll not feel the drowning.”
It reminded me of scenes like the one in “Saving Private Ryan” where an American soldier gets into a knife fight with a German soldier. The American loses and his blade is slowly pressed into his chest. All the while, the German is telling the American silently to hush, like he’s putting him to sleep. It sends a chill down my spine.