"I Pity the Poor Immigrant" as written by and Bob Dylan....
I pity the poor immigrant
Who wishes he would've stayed home
Who uses all his power to do evil
But in the end is always left so alone
That man whom with his fingers cheats
And who lies with every breath
Who passionately hates his life
And likewise, fears his death

I pity the poor immigrant
Whose strength is spent in vain
Whose heaven is like ironsides
Whose tears are like rain
Who eats but is not satisfied
Who hears but does not see
Who falls in love with wealth itself
And turns his back on me

I pity the poor immigrant
Who tramples through the mud
Who fills his mouth with laughing
And who builds his town with blood
Whose visions in the final end
Must shatter like the glass
I pity the poor immigrant
When his gladness comes to pass


Lyrics submitted by Irishred516

"I Pity the Poor Immigrant" as written by Bob Dylan

Lyrics © BOB DYLAN MUSIC CO

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I Pity the Poor Immigrant song meanings
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9 Comments

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  • +2
    General Commentit is surely not about stereotyping immigrants...
    i think it is plain to see, but the main metaphor is "immigrant", an outsider, specifically an outsider who has no respect for and does not integrate himself into his new home.
    bhenderson January 31, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Comment"Who passionately hates his life,
    And likewise fears his death."
    That reminds me a bit of the book Steppenwolf. I KNOW it's probably completely off the real meaning, but this whole song reminds me of someone like Harry Haller...an outsider who "eats but is not satisfied,
    Who hears but does not see", who doesn't feel at home with his own life.
    As I said my interpretation is probably completely wrong, but I am pretty certain it's not literally about immigrants.
    Mistress_Cheeseon February 19, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe first time I heard this song, i just thought straight away it was an ironic description of the white American... the title leads us to believe it's about the "poor immigrant" who has a hard time living in the U.S for instance, and the words in fact describe the white man as an immigrant who stole the land he lives in and whose life is a blind lie etc. ("built his town with blood" and so on)

    Am I the only one to think that? It would fit in pretty well with Dylan's usual themes...
    CleverNicknameon October 09, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's amazing what can think of somebody, before you ever get to know them. I think is a wonderful song about steretyping people, in this case immigrants. This man is looked upon as being anything but good, but in the end is left alone, struggling to make it.
    ckad79on December 08, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYou should listen to the song "Tramps and Hawkers". It's an Irish folk song (or possibly Scottish?)... The Dubliners do a good version.

    Dylan basically steals the tune, then adds his own lyrics. In my opinion he did a really good job. The narrative of "Tramps and Hawkers" is an old man telling the tale of his travels. I think "the poor immigrant" is about an actual immigrant, not a metaphor.

    It took me ages to figure out where the tune was from. Drove me crazy
    raulstrongcockon October 01, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI always thought it was a song about an immigrant who was, because of need, to become a member of the Mafia. He "uses all of his power to do evil". He cheats and he lies. He hates his life and he fears his death because he knows it will be violent. He "eats" but is never satisfied. He loves wealth more than those around him. He tramples through the mud (burying a body?). He builds his town with blood (self-explanatory). When he is finally taken out, he is glad that his wicked life is over...."his gladness comes to pass".
    RevWallyVanRiperon November 11, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwhat's A.Grossman's heritage? could Bob have just been pissed at him one day? If so, what a way to vent your steam. this is a brutal, beautiful song.
    hobodeluxeon February 18, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've always thought this song was sang from the viewpoint of native Americans looking at the "white men" settling in. Great one for me in any case.
    disfunktoron December 08, 2014   Link
  • -2
    General CommentGood tune. I know some people like this. And I have absolutely no hatred for them (it's not in my makeup).
    JesusWasAFolkeron March 28, 2010   Link

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