"The Queen And The Soldier" as written by and Suzanne Vega....
The soldier came knocking upon the queen's door
He said, "I am not fighting for you any more"
The queen knew she'd seen his face someplace before
And slowly she let him inside.

He said, "I've watched your palace up here on the hill
And I've wondered who's the woman for whom we all kill
But I am leaving tomorrow and you can do what you will
Only first I am asking you why."

Down in the long narrow hall he was led
Into her rooms with her tapestries red
And she never once took the crown from her head
She asked him there to sit down.

He said, "I see you now, and you are so very young
But I've seen more battles lost than I have battles won
And I've got this intuition, says it's all for your fun
And now will you tell me why?"

Well the young queen, she fixed him with an arrogant eye
She said, "You won't understand, and you may as well not try"
But her face was a child's, and he thought she would cry
But she closed herself up like a fan.

And she said, "I have swallowed a secret burning thread
It cuts me inside, and often I've bled"
He laid his hand then on top of her head
And he bowed her down to the ground.

"Tell me how hungry are you? How weak you must feel
As you are living here alone, and you are never revealed
But I won't march again on your battlefield"
And he took her to the window to see.

And the sun, it was gold, though the sky, it was gray
And she wanted more than she ever could say
But she knew how it frightened her, and she turned away
And would not look at his face again.

And he said, "I want to live as an honest man
To get all I deserve and to give all I can
And to love a young woman who I don't understand
Your highness, your ways are very strange."

But the crown, it had fallen, and she thought she would break
And she stood there, ashamed of the way her heart ached
She took him to the doorstep and she asked him to wait
She would only be a moment inside.

Out in the distance her order was heard
And the soldier was killed, still waiting for her word
And while the queen went on strangling in the solitude she preferred
The battle continued on.


Lyrics submitted by Novartza

"The Queen and the Soldier" as written by Suzanne Vega

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

The Queen And The Soldier song meanings
Add your thoughts

29 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +1
    General Commentthis song is so beautiful.. but i'm confused about the end.. does she order him killed? or is it by chance that he dies in the one moment that he is trying to save his own life?
    rosie989on June 09, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI have always thought of this song as a simple ballad, which is why I loved it so much. There is not enough writers who can write a true ballad, but she is definately one. That is why the interpertation of lostinspace surprised me - I did not see the metaphore.
    And I still have trouble with some of it's parts - for example, why is she saying to him that You won'y understand? and why is he saying that he just want to mary a young woman he doesn't understand, and speaks to her as Your Highness?
    The plain intepertation of this song, as a tragic story, is still more beautifull in my view.
    bartoshekon March 14, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI agree with lostinspace that it's a metaphor -- but not just for a lovestory (though it fits that too). Try this notion:


    The conversation is the symbolic, inner monologue of a person faced with some undefined need to change their life (possibly growing into an adult lovelife -- that'd explain why voices are different genders). Their sense says they should -- their heart says it's too risky, they might lose even the partial happiness they have now, and it's better to continue as they have.

    The Queen is the heart, passion, impulse, youth, emotion, fear of change. She's powerful, but impetuous and uncertain and makes bad calls because of that. ("The young queen she fixed him with an arrogant eye, she said 'You won't understand, and you may as well not try,' but her face was a child's and he thought she would cry")

    The Soldier is sense, growing up, experience, understanding, responsibility. Like good common sense, he's simple, confident, and bluntly honest. ("'How hungry are you, how weak you must feel, as you are living here alone and you are never revealed" -- "I want to live as an honest man, get all I deserve, and give all I can")

    The question is faced, sense seems to have won, but at the last minute the person allows their emotion to take hold again. ("And he took her to the window to see. Well the sun it was gold, though the sky it was gray, and she wanted more than she ever could say, but she knew how it frightened her, and she turned away, and would not look at his face again")


    The Queen orders the soldier killed, and the battle continues -- aka, the person doesn't make the life-change their good sense is trying to tell them is desperately needed.

    Yeah, it's a beautiful song. All the better because it's so hard to decode.
    delayon February 10, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt's all symbolism.

    The queen is the woman who likes men to fight for her attention - that's the soldiers and their battles. She likes to flirt with them. "Never once taking the crown from her head" refers to her need to retain power over men and so she will not open up.

    Although she feels an emptiness inside because of her inability to form a real relationship, she is too afraid of being hurt.

    The story is about a good man who gets close to her but she pushes him away.
    ninehaloon June 30, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti actually think Delay has this pretty much summed up. I love the personality Suzanne gave these two in so little words. gorgeous song - one that's meant something to me for a long, long time...
    Rosemageon December 18, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI like to look at it as more of a story than a metaphor.

    What we have is a girl, expected to have the wisdom and experience of a woman twice her age. She will never get to experience the joys of being a child..of being a young woman. She will never be able to follow her heart.

    She wages wars and whether she wants to or not, they weigh heavily on her soul. She hides her pain and her guilt for having to put these people through this but doesn't see any other way. Were she to stop to ask for help, that would show weakness...so she moves forward without any real idea what direction she is going in. To cope, she puts on a mask of arrogance thus using it to displace what she has done from herself, else it would inwardly destroy her (Hence the part about closing like a fan). She continues to wear her crown to remind her of the weight of her decisions.

    Then here you have this soldier who is tired of fighting and never quite sure why. He seems to honestly care about her as a young woman, not a queen. Perhaps he knows how burdened her heart is with all that she does...or maybe he thinks she isn't aware of all of the pain she is causing. Unable to continue fighting these wars...for either the pain they cause or possibly the burden they put on her heart, he confronts her.

    The part:

    "Tell me how hungry are you? How weak you must feel
    As you are living here alone, and you are never revealed
    But I won't march again on your battlefield"

    Reveals a lot about him. How much does she really want all of this fighting? And how helpless she must feel. The cycle of the fighting going on and her powerless to ever do anything about it. He mentions that she is never revealed. They fight for "The Queen" but no one down there knows the girl who sits on "The Queen's" throne is. He then tells her he won't march on her battlefield again but I can't but wonder if it is because he -does- know how much the fighting hurts her...that maybe it would ease her pain a little if he stopped fighting for her..that she would know that there would be one less man out there dying in her name.

    "And she wanted more than she ever could say
    But she knew how it frightened her, and she turned away
    And would not look at his face again."

    I think maybe she really didn't want any of this. I think she wanted to be a young woman who would experience the joy of love, of growing up, of not having the weight of the world on such tiny shoulders. It frightened her because she didn't know how to deal with these feelings. She had no one to turn to before and now there was this man who spoke kindly to her...one of the nameless men from the battlefield. He now had a face. He now had a gentle voice...and she was ashamed. She couldn't bring herself to look at him. He was a real person to her now.

    When it says:

    And he said, "I want to live as an honest man
    To get all I deserve and to give all I can
    And to love a young woman who I don't understand
    Your highness, your ways are very strange."

    I think that he's offering her what she desperately wants more than anything: The privilege of being a young bride. To get married. To be -loved- as a young woman and not a queen. In the next part:

    But the crown, it had fallen, and she thought she would break
    And she stood there, ashamed of the way her heart ached

    She is seriously considering it as he's offering her everything she could ever want. He's offering to take her away from here. To love her...and she's tempted to go. But to do so would leave her people in a war that she had started...it would leave her kingdom without someone looking over it. It would leave her burden to someone else that didn't ask for it. She was ashamed of herself for even thinking about going with him...no matter how much her heart yearns for it. In a moment of weakness, she tells him yes and to wait for her outside. But as she's inside, she hesitates realizing what she was about to do and knows that as long as he was living, there was a good chance she would betray her kingdom to follow her heart.

    And the soldier was killed, still waiting for her word
    And while the queen went on strangling in the solitude she preferred
    The battle continued on

    The ending is tragic for both characters. The soldier is waiting outside for a woman who is not coming thinking that he is going to bring home his bride. Thinking that he can bring an end to her pain.

    The Queen destroys the one person in all the world that would ever care about her as a woman and though she will continue on in her solitude..her loneliness, she would continue to bear the burden of her actions.

    I feel sorry for the both of them really. The Soldier does seem like he was a wonderful man though. It pains me to see him killed just for trying to love someone.
    Lady_Paladinon December 10, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationSo far, I think that Lady_Paladin is right on the money. I have a similar interpretation, but I think mine is a bit more literal, a few different metaphors in some parts.

    Anyway, let's start at the beginning.

    "The soldier came knocking upon the queen's door
    He said, "I am not fighting for you any more"
    The queen knew she'd seen his face someplace before
    And slowly she let him inside"

    I think this is mostly exactly what it is. I think he's a soldier who can't handle the fighting anymore, who wants to know the reason he is out there killing and risking his life for someone he doesn't know. I don't know if they've met, or there is some history because of the fact that she has seen him before, but I love Lady_Paladin's interpretation that she doesn't see him as a real person. He's just another face that may or may not be familiar, but she doesn't allow herself to become emotionally attached to someone. She sees emotion as a weakness. I think she is a woman who never got to be a girl, she was raised to be stoic and wise and emotionless and to be strong and learn to do what was right for her country. She knows nothing else but power, and so she clings to it. She is not necessarily happy, but she needs this power. It is a part of her.

    "He said, "I've watched your palace up here on the hill
    And I've wondered who's the woman for whom we all kill
    But I am leaving tomorrow and you can do what you will
    Only first I am asking you why.""

    I guess I got a little ahead of myself in the last bit. But he just desperately wants to know why. He's always wanted to know who is behind this, he has watched her palace all the time wondering why. I also think he is starting to fall in love with this woman who is surprisingly young, beautiful, vulnerable. Because underneath all of her strength and ice, she is so incredibly lonely. And I think he already sort of knows what will happen to him in the end. He is deserting the army, and he says "You can do what you will", so I think he already knows what he is risking. But he just can't bear to not know the truth.

    "Down in the long narrow hall he was led
    Into her rooms with her tapestries red
    And she never once took the crown from her head
    She asked him there to sit down."

    I think the queen, although she thinks she is strong and emotionless, also feels something for this man. She senses that he wants to help her, and I think after all these years of bottling herself up inside her castle, separating herself from emotion, she just needs some little spark of a real life. She decides to trust this young, brave man. However, she "never once took the crown from her head." I think the crown is her sense of strength, her emotionlessness, and all these things she thinks are power. Although she desperately needs some speck of human contact and affction, she is proud. She will not let down her icy barriers. She asks him to sit down while she stands so she will still have some power over him, because she is desperate to keep any sense of strength. She is afraid of losing power to this man who she has so suddenly decided to trust. She is an incredibly conflicted individual.

    "He said,
    "I see you now, and you are so very young
    But I've seen more battles lost than I have battles won
    And I've got this intuition, says it's all for your fun
    And now will you tell me why?""

    He Is being very gentle with her. He sees her youth and her fragility, but he presses on in his curiosity of why this woman would send out so many to die for her. He is an incredibly curious, brave, foolish man, and although he has started to love her he must know the truth.

    "The young queen, she fixed him with an arrogant eye
    She said, "You won't understand, and you may as well not try"
    But her face was a child's, and he thought she would cry
    But she closed herself up like a fan"

    Another example of this power she must have over others and her rejection of weak emotions. She looks at him arrogantly, trying to find her sense of superiority and strength. She tells him he won't understand, but I think this is because she doesn't understand either. She honestly doesn't know why so many people have to die. She was just raised as a queen and knows she must, she must do her duty and protect her country. And it makes her feel horrible, she nearly cries. But she retreats back into her shell and conjures up her emotionless strength once more.

    "And she said, "I've swallowed a secret burning thread
    It cuts me inside, and often I've bled"
    He laid his hand then on top of her head
    And he bowed her down to the ground."

    Suzanne Vega once said that she thought of relationships as threads, and when you want to make something go away or forget about it you swallow it down. She has given up her desire for realtionships with others, she has buried it deep down inside, yet sometimes it burns her. It makes her bleed, because secretly she wants love and friendship and to be human. The man senses her weakness, he sincerely wants to help her. He bows her down to the ground, trying to help her be vulnerable, trying to break through her shell and make her feel okay when she is powerless. He puts her in this position where she is completely vulnerable, physically and emotionally.

    ""Tell me how hungry are you? How weak you must feel
    As you are living here alone, and you are never revealed
    But I won't march again on your battlefield"
    And he took her to the window to see."

    He is trying so desperately to help her. He is trying to bring her emotions to the surface, remind her of her hunger for human contact, asking her how weak she feels when she is all alone. She is never seen by all the men who die for her. She is isolated completely. He is almost trying to cause her pain just to make her get past her need for strength. He insists that he will not fight for her anymore. Both to show her the pain she is causing as well as because I don't think he could fight knowing that this mere girl is the queen he is fighting for. He takes her to the window to see what is happening because of her. He wants to reinforce this emergence of emotion.

    "And the sun, it was gold, though the sky, it was gray
    And she wanted more than she ever could say
    But she knew how it frightened her, and she turned away
    And would not look at his face again."

    She is still distancing herself from everything. He takes her to the window to see the battle outside, but she just looks at the sky. She doesn't want to feel the pain of seeing death, she wants to remain apart from it all. So she just stares at the gray, miserable sky that is her life. The sun is that little bit of golden hope that remains. And she wants to cling to that hope, she wants to give in and love and bring all the soldiers off the battlefield, but this frightens her. She would be giving up her strength along with everything that she ever was. She would give up her power that she needs, and she can't look at that temting sun anymore. SHe turns away. And the man's face is tempting as well. He's real now, he's a man that she could love and giver herself up to. His words are so beautiful, and she sees this future of love and happiness. But she can't do that. It scares her.

    "And he said, "I want to live as an honest man
    To get all I deserve and to give all I can
    And to love a young woman who I don't understand
    Your highness, your ways are very strange.""

    He says the things that are more emotionally ridden than anything he has said thus far. He says how he is such a good, simple man. He just wants to be happy and honest. He wants the world to be fair. He wants to love her, this woman who is such a mystery to him. He is everything that is good in the world, and he is the scariest and most foreign thing the queen has ever seen.

    "But the crown, it had fallen, and she thought she would break
    And she stood there, ashamed of the way her heart ached
    She took him to the doorstep and she asked him to wait
    She would only be a moment inside."

    Her crown falls. All of her strength has crumbled in the face of this man who is everything that she wants, everything that frightens her, and everything that she will not allow herself to have. Her emotions finally break throguh and she thinks she wll just fall apart as all the power and strength she ever had and clung to are stripped away. This man loves her and she wants nothng more than to love him back. But she is ashamed of this. She still doesn't want to be be weak. She was raised to scorn weakness and she cannot handle being so vulnerable. She takes him to the doorstep and separates herself from her, promising she will be inside only a moment while he waits for her. But while he is inside she must compose herself she must find her strength again, because she feels herself breaking. She can't do it. Not while he is so temptingly standing right outside her door.

    "Out in the distance her order was heard
    And the soldier was killed, still waiting for her word
    And while the queen went on strangling in the solitude she preferred
    The battle continued on"

    The saddest and most shocking part of the song. She simply cannot handle this weakness that has destroyed any image of herself and purpose she has ever had. So she has him killed. This is easier than coping with her loss of power. And so she returns to her solitude, choking in the pain of killing the only man she ever loved. She may not be happy, but she prefers it. She prefers her strength, familiar and comforting. She knows she has to be a queen and she must get rid of anything standing in her way. I think the battle can be two things: just the war that has been going on, the one the soldier fought in. It's just showing that things have not changed. No matter how good and brave one man is, it cannot change the wills of the stubborn. So people still die, the queen is still lonely, nothing has changed. The battle can also be the queen's internal battle. Her struggle betweenn right and wrong, happiness and strength. The story is not a happy one, I feel awful for the good man who died just because he wanted to love and help others, the queen who is unable to feel emotion without feeling horrible and broken. It's not a happy tale. But it's beautiful, in a twisted way.

    Anyway, just my interpretation. I actually have several others, and they are all possible. That's why I like this song so much.
    MaryLilaWeston January 12, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentstrange that there isn't anybody who gives comment on this fabulous song... it's an extraordinairy story, really tragic and it touched me deeply...
    muisjeon June 06, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGreat song. I know this is from a female's perspective but I can relate to it myself. This song is about fear of commitment. There are a lot of metaphors in there which are fairly obvious.
    She falls in love with the guy but she is so scared of being hurt she decides to not to call him or see him anymore. The soldier did not die. but to her its easier to think of him as dead. That would take away the temptation of getting back in touch with man because she clearly loves him. I think its really nice how she uses the queen and the soldier metaphor and how love (sometimes) is such a battle.
    lostinspaceon June 10, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsuch a beautiful song. I first heard it when I was five years old, and ever since then it has struck a chord with me.
    ItsAllIWanton February 08, 2005   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain