"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.

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The Queen And The Soldier song meanings
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23 Comments

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  • +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
    General CommentI just purchased Vega's retrospective in MP3 format. I'd completely forgotten about this song.

    You know, I read through all these responses (which were wonderful) and had to think: historically, doesn't this sound a bit like Elizabeth and Essex?

    That said, the other interpretations (particularly Lady Paladin's) were wonderful. I wish I could get the AP class discussion comparing it with Tennyson.
    lionorson April 14, 2014   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

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