In the kingdom of Spain
There are such colors
They defy any name
Like drab and dolor
But oh, the King and the Queen of Spain
With their long unpronouncable names
Grace the table at the long lost kingdom of Spain

In the kingdom of Light
A lithe young lawyer
Tries a case for her unjustly arrested brother
But oh, the King and the Queen of Light
Rule with unbendable might
So it's to the gallows with the long lost kingdom of Light

In the kingdom of Love
We're all just fodder
As the cannonades drum
Our sons and daughters
But oh, the King and the Queen of Love
In their long, white, fingerless gloves
Bang the gavel for the long lost kingdom of Love
Of love
Of love

Lyrics submitted by constant

The Kingdom of Spain song meanings
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  • +1
    General Commenta few minor corrections, line four in the first verse should be "like drab and dolor" - dullard has a completely different and unrelated meaning that i don't believe can really even be applied to a kingdom.

    also, the second line on the second verse should read "a lithe young lawyer," or possibly "a live young lawyer" although i'm personally leaning toward the former. lithe implies grace or flexibility, like "a lithe ballerina" or something thereabout. the idea, i think, is to contrast ironically this graceful young lawyer - colin seems to have taken special care that we sympathize with the lawyer, something our society traditionally does not do , hence i think the use of "lithe" and "young" - who is trying to protect her unjustly arrested brother from the king and queen of light.

    the theme of ironic contrast repeats throughout the song; in the the third verse, love is compared to war through the use of words and concepts like fodder, cannonades drumming and arguably fingerless gloves - again, though, the gloves are white, implying innocence. the fact that the song begins in the kingdom of spain, given the history of spain, is not at all surprising - it is, as described, a beautiful and charming land which nevertheless has a long history of well-intentioned cruelty, an excellent parallel i think for the kingdom of love.

    given only the first and third verse, i might have interpreted the song merely as being about love, but the decemberists write very few songs that are solely about love, and the second verse makes me think the theme is quite broader than that - my interpretation is that the world and life itself are so beautiful but suffering is also inescapable; people are not evil exactly, and are rarely intentionally cruel to one another, but everyone is trying to get through life as best they can and just as we will inevitably suffer, we will also inevitably cause suffering. throughout all of this, however, there is still a great deal of beauty in it all (not that he ends by repeating "of love").

    it's a shame that this song ended as a b-side and does not get more attention - while i love "of angels and angles" for all of its tender sentimentality, i think the kingdom of spain might have been a stronger way to end the album, although i'm sure they had reasons for the decision they made.
    nostalgicBadgeron August 31, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI am proud to be the first one to say "I love this song."
    tawnygypsygirlon December 11, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNice little obscure B-side. Other "small" Decemberists' songs: "Of Angels and Angles", "Red Right Ankle", perhaps "As I Rise"
    Cynothoglyson January 21, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentgreat song. great band.
    WriterOfFictionson February 05, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI am fairly positive he says "...for *her* unjustly arrested brother."
    On that note, how politically correct of you, Colin.

    I have found this song most peculiar because I still can't quite interpret it. I think I might have it but then I lose it again. Sigh.
    beowolfe03on October 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhere've you guys found this? I didn't even know...I'M SUPPOSED TO KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT THE BEST BAND EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    decemberistsfanon April 29, 2007   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionI absolutely loved this song... i just found it, freaking amazing!
    Lachlan87on June 28, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song has an intriguing way of setting up the listener's expectations, and then changing directions.

    In the first verse, we start on what seems to be a positive note: "In the Kingdom of Spain / there are such colors / they defy any name / like drab and dolor". But on further consideration, this seems suspicious -- by saying the colors defy terms like "drab" and "dolor", it seems to imply that these terms would otherwise come to mind, as though the colors are covering up some underlying sadness. The verse continues: "But oh the King and the Queen of Spain / with their long unpronounceable names / grace the table at the long-lost kingdom of Spain" The phrase "long unpronounceable names" seems to imply some kind of elaborate formality, where the names (or identities) of the royalty are so entangled in history and convention that they have lost their practical use. (In Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries, people's full surnames sometimes describe their entire genealogy several generations back.) The use of the phrase "long-lost" is interesting. After all, Spain still exists and still has a monarch. Perhaps writer is distinguishing between modern Spain and the long-lost past. Or perhaps "the long-lost kingdom of Spain" is being used more as an imagined, faraway country than any specific place. One thing is certain, that phrase adds to the air of melancholy which pervades the whole song.

    The second verse presents a moment out of some larger implied narrative: "In the Kingdom of Light / A lithe young lawyer / Tries a case for her un- / Justly arrested brother / But oh, the King and the Queen of Light / rule with unbendable might / So it's to the gallows for the long-lost Kingdom of Light". Here we see youthful energy and family loyalty come up against injustice and power -- and lose. This is interesting, considering the phrase "Kingdom of Light" would otherwise seem to imply a wise and just ("enlightened") utopia. There's some sense that the kingdom's idealism proves its weakness -- when mistakes happen, the King and Queen are forced to choose between going back on their earlier decision, or committing an unjust act. The last line is also interesting -- why is it the Kingdom of Light that is headed for the gallows? Perhaps in condemning the innocent brother, the kingdom has also condemned itself.

    The third verse describes the Kingdom of Love in militaristic terms: "In the Kingdom of Love / We're all just fodder / As the cannonades drum / Our sons and daughters". This is taking the not-uncommon connection between love and warfare to a whole new level. Love is not just a conflict, it is a *mass* conflict. This makes it seem kind of purposeless -- if "We're all just fodder", what is the larger purpose of the strife? The lines "the cannonades drum / Our sons and daughters" could be interpreted in multiple ways. One interpretation is that in the war of love, children suffer the collateral damage. Or perhaps these lines mean that the noise of battle, so to speak, is also what propels each new generation onward into the fray. The verse continues: "But oh, the King and the Queen of Love / In their long, white, fingerless gloves / Bang the gavel for the long-lost Kingdom of Love". Again we seem to be coming back to the image of law and judgment, although it's unclear exactly who is being judged, and why. The image of "long, white, fingerless gloves" is an intriguing combination of elegance and (long white gloves) and practicality (fingerless gloves or gauntlets). I'm not sure what the purpose is here, other than another little contradiction or subversion of our expectations. These lines suggest that perhaps in all the strife and struggle of pursuing love, we actually lose our grasp on the possibility of attaining it (hence the "long-lost" and the finality of the gavel).

    Tying this all together, it seems like the song provides the basic outline of a world of paradoxes and contradictions: by holding onto the past we lose sight of the present; by keeping to our decisions we condemn the innocent to suffer; and through our efforts to find love we sight of what we hoped to gain from the struggle. The song doesn't really offer a solution to these problems, it is simply a lament on the way things are.
    treanton October 27, 2012   Link

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