Feel the matress tense beneath me
like the muscle of nonsleepy;
Feathers flexing will defeat me,
and it vexes me completely.

And the hexes heat covertly
like a slow low-flying turkey
like a Texan drying jerky
but his meaty mitts can't hurt me

With my steely will compounded
in a mighty mound that's hounded
by the SNAP my steel string sounded,
just before your snores unwound it.

And in store are dreams so daring
that the night can't stop from staring.
I'll swim sweetly as a herring
through the ether, not despairing.

Go to sleep, you stunning sky;
gently creep cunning by:
A quiet hum is amplified
by your thumb, that you suck dry.

Hundred raging waters snare the lonely sigh.
Hold your breath and clasp at Cassiopeia.


Lyrics submitted by Mopnugget

Cassiopeia song meanings
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12 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentI think this is almost a lullaby, I know when I can't sleep I

    "Feel the matress tense beneath me
    like the muscle of nonsleepy;
    Feathers flexing will defeat me,
    and it vexes me completely."

    But no matter how much I can't sleep you always do.
    AugustOfOmahaon January 22, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentYes, I think it would definitely be better to leave this song beyond any very deep analysis.
    Anneliseon January 22, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe harp on this song is so gorgeous.

    I agree with the lullaby/dream idea, and I think that this line is just flawless:

    "Feel the matress tense beneath me
    like the muscle of nonsleepy."
    catherine kon April 29, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is about an abusive lover who is killed in their sleep by the one they have been abusing. The first stanza talks about feathers, the mattres flexing as if someone is a wake and moving. This will defeat the plan to kill the abuser if they do in fact wake up. " The hexes heat covertly" This is done in secret, "His meaty mitts cant hurt Me". Her will is compounded meaning she has summed up the courage to go through with it. The steel string being used to strangle the abuser is unwound only when it is found out that they are a sleep and vulnerable. "And in store are dreams so daring that the night can't stop from staring. I'll swim sweetly as a herring" She will kill the abuser and will be at peace there after." A quiet hum is amplified by your thumb, that you suck dry" This symbolizes the struggle. Tthe room was quiet before but now after being strangled the abuser yells and begs and pleads as if he were a child sucking their thumb."Hold your breath and clasp at Cassiopeia." The abuser is losing oxygen dying moving towards the heavnes i.e. cassiopeia
    lmc26on May 25, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThese songs are drawn from deep deep down, and the motives for their creation and the way they come out are probably beyond to much analysis. But with musuc as gorgeous as this, who cares! One lovely thing with this song is the way she obviously enjoys the simple pleasure of singing the word Cassiopeia. Who wouldn't? This is the most remarkable CD I've bought since Kate Bush " A Sea of Honey." All you JN fans out there should get this..the 2nd disc is truly remarkable in a similar way to JN's work and should take your breath away. And I've still not heard Ys yet, I'm getting it for Christmas. Oh brave new world.......
    Delichonon December 13, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentis it about a really bizarre dream?
    it starts with her lying in her bed and drifting off into slumber
    it's very abstract. and her voice scares me a little.
    indiesophon April 01, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHi Songmeanings folks,
    I'm really impressed by all the thought you've evidently put into these interpretations, and I'm hoping some of you will be interested in contributing to a project related to Ms. Newsom's amazing work. You see, I am putting together a book of writings to be called “Visions of Joanna Newsom” (yes, the reference to Bob Dylan's "Visions of Johanna" is intentional). I’m looking for art, essays, poems, true stories, academic readings of songs, anecdotes, and all things related to Ms. Newsom. I’ve already secured a contribution from the novelist and Joanna-acolyte Dave Eggers, and the book will be published through a small press that I will soon be starting up here in Sacramento. This is not just a pie-in-the-sky project; it’s real and will definitely happen. I will need new work that hasn't already been posted here, because I don't want to violate copyright, but I'm sure some of you will be willing to rise to the occasion and offer your views on a particular song or album's meaning.
    So who am I? Well, I teach English Literature and Creative Writing full-time at the California State University, Sacramento. I’m also poet of sorts; you can read some of my poetry at my now-lapsed blog: miracleshirker.blogspot.com or verify my academic existence at the CSUS English Department’s web page: csus.edu/engl/. I’m also a board member at the Sacramento Poetry Center, where I co-edit The Tule Review, and I have a few books and articles out there already in various fields. You can reach me via email at buchanan@csus.edu
    Thanks! yours, Brad Buchanan
    bradbuchon February 29, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is like a lullaby.
    The harp arrangement is simply magical.
    It's very calming and beautiful.
    Joanna is simply amazing
    kaitlintayloron April 07, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song makes me smile. cassiopoeia is my constellation. :)
    kaytiluon August 01, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don't think this is a correct interpretation as it doesn't encorporate everything going on here but it's what came to my mind when I heard it.

    The whole thing seemed to me about struggling to wake up in the morning :

    Feel the matress tense beneath me
    like the muscle of nonsleepy;
    Feathers flexing will defeat me,
    and it vexes me completely.

    She is trying to get up.......but the flexing on the mattress beneath her only makes it harder and she is irritated that she can't bring herself to wake up.

    And the hexes heat covertly
    like a slow low-flying turkey
    like a Texan drying jerky
    but his meaty mitts can't hurt me

    I think the "hexes" here are a metaphor for sleep.....which is trying to capture her......yet she feels that she can break free from it's grasp.

    With my steely will compounded
    in a mighty mound that's hounded
    by the SNAP my steel string sounded,
    just before your snores unwound it.

    She gathers up her strength and tries to get up.......but hearing her partner snoring only puts her back to sleep.

    And in store are dreams so daring
    that the night can't stop from staring.
    I'll swim sweetly as a herring
    through the ether, not despairing.


    Now she gives up trying to awaken and embraces sleep.

    Go to sleep, you stunning sky;
    gently creep cunning by:

    Now that she has fallen back asleep she wants to sky to turn dark as well (I'm assuming all this takes place in the morning......so she wants it to turn dark again)

    The rest of the lyrics (below) don't really fit into this interpretation and so I don't really think it's correct.....still as I said.....it's what I thought of when I heard the song.

    A quiet hum is amplified
    by your thumb, that you suck dry.



    Hundred raging waters snare the lonely sigh.
    Hold your breath and clasp at Cassiopeia.
    Cyberghoston April 09, 2013   Link

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