Orpheus sat gloomy in his garden shed
Wondering what to do
With a lump of wood, a piece of wire
And a little pot of glue
O Mamma O Mamma

He sawed at the wood with half a heart
And glued it top to bottom
He strung a wire in between
He was feeling something rotten
O Mamma O Mamma

Orpheus looked at his instrument
And he gave the wire a pluck
He heard a sound so beautiful
He gasped and said O my God
O Mamma O Mamma

He rushed inside to tell his wife
He went racing down the halls
Eurydice was still asleep in bed
Like a sack of cannonballs
O Mamma O Mamma

Look what I've made, cried Orpheus
And he plucked a gentle note
Eurydice's eyes popped from their sockets
And her tongue burst through her throat
O Mamma O Mamma

O God, what have I done, he said
As her blood pooled in the sheets
But in his heart he felt a bliss
With which nothing could compete
O Mamma O Mamma

Orpheus went leaping through the fields
Strumming as hard as he did please
Birdies detonated in the sky
Bunnies dashed their brains out on the trees
O Mamma O Mamma

Orpheus strummed till his fingers bled
He hit a G minor 7
He woke up God from a deep, deep sleep
God was a major player in heaven
O Mamma O Mamma

God picked up a giant hammer
And He threw it with an thunderous yell
It smashed down hard on Orpheus' head
And knocked him down a well
O Mamma O Mamma

The well went down very deep
Very deep went down the well
The well went down so very deep
Well, the well went down to hell
O Mamma O Mamma

Poor Orpheus woke up with a start
All amongst the rotting dead
His lyre tacked safe under his arm
His brains all down his head
O Mamma O Mamma

Eurydice appeared brindled in blood
And she said to Orpheus
If you play that fucking thing down here
I'll stick it up your orifice!
O Mamma O Mamma

This lyre lark is for the birds, said Orpheus
It's enough to send you bats
Let's stay down here, Eurydice, dear
And we'll have a bunch of screaming brats
O Mamma O Mamma

Orpheus picked up his lyre for the last time
He was on a real low down bummer
And stared deep into the abyss and said
This one is for Mamma

O Mamma O Mamma
O Mamma O Mamma


Lyrics submitted by littleRoom, edited by Mellow_Harsher

The Lyre of Orpheus song meanings
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11 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentNobody believes me, but this song is very obviously influenced by a Ted Hughes poem about a different Greek myth, 'A Song Of OEdipus'. Same chorus, same cartoon violence & bawdiness, even the same playful dodging of a rude rhyme ("pluck...O my God"). I'm not criticising, this is the best song on the album to my mind.
    morbid moragon April 11, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is a re-write of the Greek myth of Orpheus and his wife Eurydice. Although Cave altered the content of the myth. In the myth eurydice dies from a snake bite and Orpheus convinces Hades that she can go back with Orpheus by playing his lyre. Only one condition: she has to walk behind him all the way up and he must not look to see if she's there. Of cause Orpheus just has to make sure and in that moment she disappear right in front of him. Sad story.
    Andreas1901on February 06, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwow this song is so cool! And there's hardly any comments on Nick cave! We must spread his music 'cause it rocks! This song is so ace it's like a story, well, it is!
    -broken-on April 04, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentEhh. I saw Cave live, and this was the last song he played.. He made us all sing "O mamma" along with him.. he changed the lyrics slightly, too. It was pretty awesome.. I have a top with the lyrics on too haha. I wonder if it's a real legend thingy. I'll look it up now actually.
    __AwwSugaron February 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentEhh. I saw Cave live, and this was the last song he played.. He made us all sing "O mamma" along with him.. he changed the lyrics slightly, too. It was pretty awesome.. I have a top with the lyrics on too haha. I wonder if it's a real legend thingy. I'll look it up now actually.
    __AwwSugaron February 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentdomeofthesky.com/clicks/…

    Doesn't really match. O well =]
    __AwwSugaron February 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentso, uh, this song is like, awesome, n stuff?
    nishadhamon April 18, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentA funny little adaptation of my favorite myth of all time :-)
    feel me loudon June 13, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAnd she said to Orpheus
    If you play that fucking thing down here
    I'll stick it up your orifice

    Best Nick Cave lyric ever, or best lyric ever?
    artsluton October 03, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWouldn't surprise me at all if he came up with this ppun first and the wrote an entire song around it :)
    Best track on that album IMHO
    FlyingToasteron April 25, 2011   Link

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