"The Prophet's Song" as written by Brian May...
Oh oh people of the earth
Listen to the warning
The Seer he said
Beware the storm that gathers here
Listen to the wise man

I dreamed I saw on a moonlit stair
Spreading his hands on the multitude there
A man who cried for a love gone stale
And ice cold hearts of charity bare
I watched as fear took the old men's gaze
Hopes of the young in troubled graves
I see no day, I heard him say
So grey is the face of every mortal

Oh oh people of the earth
Listen to the warning
The prophet he said
For soon the cold of night will fall
Summoned by your own hand

Oh oh children of the land
Quicken to the new life
Take my hand
Oh, fly and find the new green bough
Return like the white dove

He told of death as a bone white haze
Taking the lost and the unloved babe
Late, too late, all the wretches run
These kings of beasts now counting their days
From mother's love is the son estranged
Married his own his precious gain
The earth will shake in two will break
And death all around will be your dow'ry

Oh oh people of the earth
Listen to the warning, the seer, he said
For those who hear and mark my words
Listen to the good plan

Oh oh oh oh and two by two my human zoo
They'll be
Running for to come
Running for to come
Out of the rain

Oh, flee for your life
Who heed me not, let all your treasure make you
Oh, fear for your life
Deceive you not the fires of hell will take you
Should death await you

Oh, oh, people can you hear me (oh, oh, people can you hear me)
(Oh, oh, people can you hear me)

And now I know (now I know) (now I know)
And now I know (now I know) (now I know)
Now I know that you can hear me (now I know that you can hear me)

And now I know (now I know) (now I know)
Now I know (now I know) (now I know)
Now I know (now I know) (now I know)
Now I know (now I know) (now I know)
The Earth will shake in two will break in two will
Shake in two will break in two
Doubts all around around around around around around around around
Now I know (now I know) (now I know)
Now I know (now I know) (now I know)
Now I know (now I know) (now I know)
Now I know (now I know) (now I know)
Wow ooh wow ooh wow ooh wow ooh wow ooh wow ooh wow ooh wow ooh
Listen to the wise (listen to the wise) (listen to the wise)
Listen to the wise (listen to the wise) (listen to the wise)
Listen to the wise man (listen to the wise man) (listen to the wise man)

Laa laa la la la la laa laa (laa laa la la la la laa laa)
La la la la laa laa (la la la la laa laa)
La la la la laa laa (la la la la laa laa)
La la la la laa laa (la la la la laa laa)
La la la la laa laa (la la la la laa laa)
La la la la laa laa (la la la la laa laa)
La la la la laa laa (la la la la laa laa)
La la laa laa (la la laa laa)
La la laa laa (la la laa laa)
La la (la la)
La la (la la)
La la (la la)
Come here (come here)
I you come here (I you come here)
I you come here (I you come here)
I you (ah)
Aah (ah)
Aha (aha)
Aah (ah)
Aha (aha)

Listen to the mad (listen to the mad)
Listen to the man (listen to the man)
Listen to the mad (listen to the mad)
Listen to the mad man (listen to the mad man)

God give you the grace to purge this place
And peace all around may be your fortune

Oh oh children of the land
Love is still the answer, take my hand
The vision fades, a voice I hear
Listen to the madman

Oh, but still I fear and still I dare not
Laugh at the madman


Lyrics submitted by bluebewilderment

"The Prophet's Song" as written by Brian Harold May

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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The Prophet's Song song meanings
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46 Comments

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  • +5
    General CommentI find this song to be a wonderful example of Queen's style of engineering. Great stereo effects, vocal layering, and pseudo-acapella choruses make this song a treat.
    I recently picked up the DVD audio release of A Night at The Opera, and the new engineering of this song is jawdropping! Queen is made for surround sound! I highly recommend this album to anyone interested in music.
    Indy4202on March 13, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General Commenti think this song is about howhumans are self-destructive.
    Oh Oh people on the earth
    Listen to the warning
    The prophet he said
    For soon the cold of night will fall
    Summoned by your own hand.
    but we are too stupid and stubborn to do anything about the warnings we recieve. And it is probably about Noah's Arc. Everything was flooded and noah built an arc for his family and two of every animal blah blah blah, its basically in the lyrics. "two by two" and "Fly and find the new green bough
    Return like a white dove. "noah sent a dove to find love after the rain was over and it brought back a olive branch to show there was still land where they could go.
    Noah was the phrophet. no one beileved him and then they all drowned. thats what i think this song mean. it applys to the bible and modern times. i agree with indy about the engineering of the song it just amazing queen was made up of genius'
    spacehogpop8on May 01, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI'm thinking Judgement day, "Flee for your life
    Who heed me not, let all your treasure make you
    Fear for your life
    Deceive you not the fires of hell will take you
    Should death await you." and Brian is using the story of the Arc metaphorically of the world. Makes sense to me, and no one else probably
    Italian Phaethonon May 09, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWhen I first heard this song, I immediately identified it with the influential philosophical work Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche, but I doubt that was the sole intention of the song - although the character of the prophet himself may have been based on the Persian prophet Zoroaster (as was Nietzsche's character) if only as a reference to Freddy Mercury's religious background: as a Parsi Iranian whose parents where originally from India. However, it really stuck out as being about Nietzsche's intepretation to me for a few reasons: When the lyrics use both the terms 'wise man' and 'mad man' to describe the prophet, it seems to perfectly describe the character of Zarathustra as I read him. I also heard the lyric "so grey is the face of every mortal" as "so grey is the face of every martyr" - the latter tying in much more strongly with Nietzsche's philosophy, that those who sacrifice themselves for something they believe is higher than themselves are in the end gaining nothing. A similar concept is explored further in the lines "Late too late all the wretches run/These kings of beasts now counting their days. " The 'kings of beasts' describes how Nietzsche sees most of humanity, as being nothing more than a powerful animal. The line "The Earth will shake and two will break" may also refer to this dichotomy of humanity, that on the one hand we have the majority of content but ultimately soulless masses, and on the other the few 'mad men' who will find the "new life" and return to humanity to encourage them to follow them back...

    I'm not claiming that Nietzsche's ideas expressed in Thus Spoke Zarathustra where what Brian had in mind when writing this, as a lot of it doesn't ring true at all; but thats what the song means to me.
    Hazharon November 27, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthis song sparked my interest enough to join this site...

    anyway, i agree with alot of your comments, but most of all i agree with GromReaper because i have a tendency to overanalyze everything, especially songs i like...so this is what i think of this song:

    - the vocal effects are wonderful
    -this song definetely has a biblical reference underlying the lyrics but i agree that it is applicable to almost any situation you can make sense of
    - i personally think the "madman" and the "wise man" are the same person, and each represents the best and worst of both worlds; these two are our consciouses (sorry for my lack of proper spelling)
    - the madman and wise men especially want to be heard by the children becasue they are our future and they need to be instructed so the world doesn't turn into one of self-destruction and doom:
    children of the land/Love is still the answer, take my hand
    The vision fades/a voice I hear/Listen to the Madman!/But still I fear and still I dare not/Laugh at the Madman.
    ...but kids are too afraid to take a stand so they have to "laugh at the madman" because they dont want to believe his warnings
    -the song speaks of our future as a society and generation...which is ironic because it was written years and years ago
    -this song is miraculous
    andnowiknowon April 12, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentEveryone thought Noah was crazy, they laughed at him while he prepared for the flood, and when the time came, they all wanted to be saved, but he couldn't save them all. I think it's referring to that in the song because eventually catastrophe strikes everyone, a death of a loved one, a horrible injury, etc. and you have to be prepared for that day, so you can get through it. Everyone thinks they're invincible, but that's not true. But, if you prepare right, you can always recover (unless you're dead, I guess, but then you're past the point of caring anymore anyways)
    undercoverbuggeron June 10, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI would very much like to read or write a novel inspired by this song. I have a feeling I would really enjoy such a piece of literature.

    I'm thinking the seer, the prophet, and the wise man are most likely the same person. I don't think the wise man and the mad man are the same person, though. I think the mad man is the son who from his mother's love is estranged, and who marries his own precious gain. He becomes a tyrant perhaps, and the wise man is the one who attempts to lead his people to safety from the clutches of the mad man, whose madness is like a flood.

    In the first stanza, the speaker tells of the wise man, who foresees the coming of the "storm" of the mad man.

    In the second stanza, the speaker goes back to an earlier time and tells of the wise man when he was younger, first receiving the power of foresight. I think it is also implied that the mad man received the same ability, but instead of becoming wise (like the other man), he went mad.

    The third and fourth stanza return to the wise man, but with a greater sense of understanding for his words. Now that the threat of the mad man has become imminent, the people have begun to believe the wise man's prophecies, and they are willing to take his hand and quicken to the new life.

    The fifth stanza tells the story of the mad man's youth, and how he, like the wise man, received the ability to see the future. But unlike the wise man, he became mad, and his visions were filled with nothing but cynicism and death. He was estranged from his family, and loved only the power he later gained, but only death will be his dowry.

    Stanza six is where the wise man begins leading his people in exodus to safety.

    Stanza seven is the wise man remarking to himself on the people who have come flocking to him. They are a diverse group of people, a human zoo.

    Stanza eight is a decree by the mad man, when he has realized that his people are fleeing from him. He proclaims that he will kill them all.

    The vocal overlays in the middle are representative of the wise man's doubt and growing fear that he will not be able to save his people from ruin. I think perhaps his prophecies were only linked to the mad man, and he cannot foresee his own destiny.

    The ending is unclear. I think that either the mad man wipes out the wise man's followers, and as the wise man lies dying he tries to assure the survivors that love is still the answer, or else the mad man loses all of his power and the people are vindicated, but the wise man begins to go mad as well, haunted by the sound of the mad man's laughter even after the mad man has died.
    Lionboyon March 01, 2008   Link
  • +2
    My OpinionIf I'm not mistaken (or if I remember well), Brian May said he dreamed of the Great Flood (Bible episode) and decided to write a song about it. There's some parts that seem very obvious to me, linked to the Great Flood.


    [Oh Oh people of the earth
    Listen to the warning
    The seer he said
    Beware the storm that gathers here
    Listen to the wise man.]

    The seer/prophet is Noah. He is also the wise man seeing as he knows that a "storm [will] gathers here" because God told him so.

    [Oh Oh children of the land
    Quicken to the new life
    Take my hand
    Fly and find the new green bough
    Return like a white dove]

    The "new life" is probably the after-flood and there's the green bough and the white dove, which are well known symbols/elements of the Great Flood.

    [Oh Oh - and two by two my human zoo
    They'll be
    runnung for to come
    running for to come
    out of the rain]

    "two by two" is an obvious referrence to the saving of a male and female of every species, althought I'm not quite sure why it's a "human zoo", I'm not a Bible expert, but I think Noah and his family were the only humans that were saved from the flood. Maybe Noah and his family are God's "human zoo"?

    [Oh Oh children of the land
    Love is still the answer, take my hand
    The vision fades, a voice I hear
    Listen to the Madman!

    But still I fear and still I dare not
    Laugh at the Madman.]

    The madman, who is it? I believe it's still Noah. But it said he was the "wise man", the "prophet"... but prophets are often believed madmen or fools. Noah is a wise man because he knows what is about to happen, but he's also a madman from the other human's perspective as they may not believe his warning ("Listen to the warning the prophet he said").

    But still, they dare not laugh at the madman... maybe they believe he could not be wrong, they are struggling between believing him or not.

    As for the echo/opera chants, they sound almost like religious chants (at least, that's how I perceive them).

    The other parts of the song I didn't mentioned, I'm not quite sure how they could be linked with the Great Flood, so I prefer to step back for those.

    But anyway, wether I'm right, partially right/wrong or completely in the wrong, it doesn't matter. This song is a true musical masterpiece, this is Brian May's "Bohemian Rhapsody".


    TBrocks13on February 09, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentGrow up Goober! Have you ever even HEARD this song? It's a classic! Now I've never cracked open a bible, but I think there's a story in the bible that pertains to this song. Or rather, this song pertains to that story (I think the bible was out before Queen started up... lol). Anyway, my 'A Night at the Opera' was stolen (Lord have mercy on my soul), so I had to download Kazaa to get all the songs. :-( anyway......... peace out
    Prophet01on June 25, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Commentit's a song about change and how peace represented by the dove and change represented by the new green bough. The wise man and the mad man are beings of your conscience but we never understand fully out of the wiseman and the madman which one is the good and which is the bad.
    Chrision January 09, 2005   Link

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