I married my wife on the day of the eclipse
Our friends awarded her courage with gifts
Now as the nights grow longer and the season shifts
I look to my sorrowful wife
Who is quietly tending her flowers
Who is quietly tending her .....


The water is high on the beckoning river
And I made her a promise I could not deliver
And the cry of the birds sends a terrible shiver
Through me and my sorrowful wife
Who is shifting the furniture around
Who is shifting the furniture around


Now we sit beneath the knotted Yew
And the bluebells bob around our shoes
And the task of remembering those telltale clues
Goes to my sorrowful wife
Who is counting the days on her fingers
Who is counting the days on her .....


Come on help me babe
Come on now
Come on and help me babe
I was blind
The grass here grows long and high
Twists right up to the sky
White clouds roll on by
Come on now and help me babe
I was blind
I was a fool babe
I was blind
A loose wind last night blew down
Black trees bent to the ground
Their blossoms made such a sound
That I could not even hear myself think babe
I was blind
I was a fool babe
Yeah I was a blind fool babe
I was a fool babe
I was blind babe
A fool babe
I was a blind fool babe
I was a fool


Blind babe
Blind babe
Blind babe
A fool babe


Lyrics submitted by pumkinhed, edited by beih

The Sorrowful Wife song meanings
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13 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentI always interpreted this song as being about Nick (or the speaker, if you prefer) struggling to conquer his drug addiction after getting married. I know that when Nick Cave met his wife, Susie Bick, he was just getting off his heroin addiction.

    The song suggests that he promised her that he would stay off drugs, but some time after their wedding he broke that promise and he's now begging for her forgiveness. The line, "our friends awarded her courage with gifts," always seemed so sad to me -- it's like their friends were telling her that she was brave to marry him and stay with him considering his addiction and, maybe, other problems that he could bring to the relationship. Perhaps others warned her against the marriage, but she went ahead with it anyway because they were in love.

    I think the most telling lines are these:

    "The task of remembering the telltale clues
    Goes to my lovely, my sorrowful wife
    Who is counting the days on her fingers"

    The "counting the days" line could refer to pregnancy, as others have noted, but I think it's also likely that she's counting the days that he's been clean...kind of like how recovering alcoholics keep track of their days of sobriety in an AA program. The "telltale clues" are probably signs that he's been using again. Or, perhaps even if he isn't using, she still has the burden of keeping her eye out for the signs.

    The whole "come on and help me, babe" at the end, which sounds so different from the rest of the song, pretty clearly communicates that he deeply regrets breaking his promise and he wants her to help him so that he never does it again. Such sad, humble, vulnerable lyrics. One of Cave's best.
    emotionalwenchon February 08, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is really good. Love how it goes from calm to aggressive and the lyrics are great too.
    "I married my wife on the day of the eclipse
    Our friends awarded her courage with gifts"
    - There was no possibilities for this relationship to work out. I find this part of the lyric sad, but also kinda funny ;)
    HateSaikoon June 13, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentat first I thought the spokeman is a person who has a wickness for sunlight beacause of the eclipse and the nights growing longer and the emphassis on darkness cold closure and clautrophobic feeling. I do agree that the eclipse symbolises a relationship that is ment to be doommed, though I think the spokemam is somehow badly messed or conflicted and his wife sufferres for it, all he can do is to feel pittyness for her sorrow, this problem he possess was an issue already at the day they were married, since their friends rewarded her courage with gifts... I am questioning it... help me here
    Mettaflareon August 20, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don't think the relationship was doomed, I think he didn't try hard enough and he's sorry for it. Avery honest and powerful song
    stanlavisbad2on September 19, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAs far as I know, he wrote this about his wife. They were married on the same day as an eclipse and he's said that she arranges furniture. This comes into Babe I'm On Fire as well, his wife arranging furniture (he plays her in the video).

    I don't know what he meant by the song though so I can't add anything to the meaning. I could be wrong about the stuff above because I can't recall where I heard him say that.
    Milaon March 17, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Counting the days on her fingers" - I've always thought that this means she's pregnant.
    morbid moragon June 19, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"I made her a promise I could not deliver"
    Well there's the key to the song right there. He said he would or wouldn't so something but he didn't or did and she's suffering for it. He feels for her pain but at the same time he wants her to help him avoid temptation. These line:
    "A loose wind last night blew down
    Black trees bent to the ground
    Their blossoms made such a sound
    That I could not hear myself think babe"
    Are simply amazing. Especially the way he delivers them.
    mackkaon August 23, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentshe married a man who she thought to be perfect, he made all these promises, gave her such a great veiw onto her future, but then as she married him, and as they lived together, she relaises he is not what he seems
    cintaon November 07, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAnother thought I just had -- the line "the water is high on the beckoning river" could suggest that, at his lowest point, he's had thoughts of suicide. As in, the river seems to be beckoning him to drown himself in its waters. Even more chilling.
    emotionalwenchon February 08, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGreat song and i totally agree with emotionwentch!
    armagezonon February 19, 2010   Link

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