Poets of the Fall – The Labyrinth

 

I have been wondering for a long time if I should write about The Labyrinth. It is, obviously, one of my favourite song from Clearview, if not the one… at least it would be in a parallel world since I wrote before that Clearview is my favourite song. This is just a detail though. The Labyrinth stirs very deep feelings within and I am not sure whether I can put accurate words on them or not. It is very strange for it, most often than not, moves me to tears without my having any control over them. Granted, since I am listening to Clearview on my way to work, I have learnt to stop the tears before they run down my face and avoid a scene in the car, that’d be most inconvenient I believe.

The true meaning of the song escapes me for this or that reason, at the same time, I am not in Marko‘s head so it’d be difficult by any standard to get the “truth” behind the words even if I’d ask him – He’d probably answer “what’s your input on it“, or something like “I’m not gonna tell, what do you think it means” etc. In the end though, what matters is how I understand the song when I apply it to my own set of references. Is it not how it works with any kind of art after all?

One perspective among others

The Labyrinth is a tough one, both in trying to understand it beneath the surface of the words and as a whole. My thought process is different from one song to the other, but for this one, I really wanted to get it right… even if there are no right and wrong here, since it will be my truth. Maybe, if I demystify it a little, I might be able to understand what is hiding behind the tears I shed as I listen to the song. In green is my thought-process that I tried to keep short for the purpose of this post… again, no right and wrong, just one perspective among others – mine.

Down on your knees to find your way –> praying to find your way
Through this labyrinth of whys –> through entangled doubts
Time and again, rig and replay –> ceaseless do-overs due to self-sabotage
When nothing justifies –>nothing gives you a reason
Or leaves a trace to tell–> or nothing is clear enough
A way out of your shell–> for you to leave the hiding place within
To sample life–> and see what the world is about

From the first notes to the first uttered word, The Labyrinth is pulling me into a dream-state, dream-like world, which is rather cold and grey but for the music and Marko‘s voice. I cannot help but feel that it is a very personal song – at the same time, it might not be so strictly personal as it might be a very accurate insight on the human condition. There is such kindness in the tone, such empathy and such gentleness to the words. Indeed, there is something very reassuring to it. This first verse feels very personal to me because it is a reflection of my own life, back in the day, and I know some of you guys could say the same. At some point in our live, we all go through scary times, and often hide from the world not to be hurt again. This is what we do… some hide longer than others; some never leave their hiding-place; some…

Time

Time is a wraith at the point of no return –> time is a ghost in the end
A memory of the light of day –> a happy memory
Time is ablaze and so we burn –> time’s fire and so are we
Until the ashes of our lives are blown away –> and at some point we’re just ashes
Wish I had the power to make you stay –> WHO? Time… or the person whom he talks to in the first verse?

So, once we’ve started pondering on the human condition, we have to add another important actor to it: time. An abstract notion, that we, silly humans, have tried to trap by measuring it… which is of course ridiculous and in the end, rather useless. In other words, life’s too short and there is nothing we can do to change that fact. Someone’s dying or time is running out, put it either way you want, we’ve all stood at that particular crossroad and wished we could have done something more to prevent it… whatever it is that happened or is about to happen. It is difficult not to have full control all the time… “time”, again…

LAST MINUTE THOUGHTS: As time is on fire, so are our times turning into chaos. In the midst of such horrid times, are life just go “poof” before we realise it or before anyone could notice, would think some… if we look at the big picture, what are we in this world of “all mighty powerfuls”? insignificant… and yet, although I write it, I don’t believe a word of it, and neither should you. In fact, I write it because it is what too many would have us believe – no names calling or pointed fingers. Just don’t! Believe the opposite and I think that is what Poets of the Fall is telling us… not so straightforward, but you get the idea. There is always a way out of a labyrinth…

Full of double and half-said meanings for the stranger minds

Out through the frozen haze of grey –> through this confusion
If constellations align –> if fate permits it
More brutally sliced by lie than blade –> more hurt by lies than hit
Three acts of cruel design –> ??
Disconnect the dots –> everything’s connected just disconnect it: forget?
And against all odds –> strangely
Still survive –> make it through

The first word that comes to mind when I listen to this verse is depression. But after careful consideration, it might be that no matter what life throws at us, when everything goes wrong all at once, the simple fact of letting go, and beyond one’s expectations, might help to make it through. In other words, as long as one does not give up… and yet, there is this unsaid thought that sometimes even that won’t be enough. At this point of my life though, when things seem to turn finally my way, I’d rather chose the former explanation rather than the latter. Yet again, it is a matter of perspective.

Puzzle

For the sake of thrill would you own the kill –> to whom is he talking to?
Would you impose your will on another still –> is it God/death? is it the person he’s been talking to the whole song? is it… what?

Understanding The Labyrinth is not that difficult, even if there are a lot of unsaid thoughts, it is rather easy to read between the lines if I apply my mind to it. However, the last two phrases of the song puzzle me greatly and throw out the window everything I come to fathom hitherto. This is one of Poets of the Fall‘s specialities, some kind of cliffhanger that turns everything upside down. Once again, I wonder to whom he is talking to. Is it that person hiding from the world? In which case, suicide comes to mind. Although, what is so thrilling about it? At the same time, such an act imposes on those who are left behind. As Sherlock says: “Your life does not belong to you, it belongs to those who remain. Take your own life, take it from whom? […] You take it from those who love you, those who stay…” That’d be what the second phrase means to me. Dark thoughts indeed…

Is he talking to God or whomever you believe in? To Death? Their thrill to kill and do it again and again within one’s circle, and make us grieve endlessly. After all, if you believe in a god, you might have heard this saying that “god is a child playing with an ant-farm“, we – humans – being the ants. Maybe not all my reasoning is out the window, but still I cannot help but being puzzled by such a train of thought… it might be because it feels particularly familiar to me, who knows.

Excruciatingly beautiful

The Labyrinth seems straightforward enough, but it is not. It poses more questions than gives answers, at least to me it does. At the same time, it puts me in a state of well-being – it cannot be helped. The Labyrinth is a safe place, where emotional chaos rules over everything else. It does not mean that emotional chaos makes me feel good, but this is where I sort things out whether consciously or in my sleep. This is where I heal, within this song… I know it does not make sense, because of what the song seems to mean.

As I look deeper into my heart, and listen to Marko‘s voice accompanied by this gorgeous melody – served admirably by the acoustic guitar, the bass and the piano, I often hear it is okay to be down for there is always a way up. Whatever the hurt, whatever control you think you’ve lost, “there is always one way left to go and that is up“. The strength of Poets of the Fall‘s songs in general is that they have a literal meaning (or what the artists meant to say if you will) and then, there are all other kinds of hidden messages that we find as we listen over and over… hidden messages that are, for all intent and purposes, either consciously chosen or put there by accident – if not unconsciously expressed – or both. We find what we need to find, and not two persons will hear exactly the same message. It is the beauty of art, is it not.

There are no clichés in Marko‘s lyrics, just a poetic and emotional way to put things in perspective and say more by saying less. The Labyrinth, to me, is a song mostly about loss and whether it’d be literal or spiritual, it is excruciatingly beautiful.

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