Farmer Emmerich went into his barn
And found a cow suckling a serpent
And a brown ape clanking a heavy chain
Said Farmer Emmerich to the ape
Never ask me to come into this barn again
So Long
Farewell
So Long

Farmer Emmerich caught the serpent
And the brown ape in a cage
And took them into his house
He fed the snake a vat of milk
And when the ape rattled its chain
He tossed the ape a mouse
So Long
Goodbye
Farewell

The villagers found out that Farmer Emmerich
Was nurturing a serpent
And descended upon his farm
All rabid in their blindness
They dragged the snake outside
Chopped it open with an axe
And the ground soaked
In the milk of human kindness
So Long
Farewell
So Long

But the brown ape escaped
And was heard to roam the ranges
Clanking its heavy chain
Down in the valley it sang to its friend
Whom he may never see again


Lyrics submitted by pumkinhed, edited by Mellow_Harsher

Fable of the Brown Ape song meanings
Add your thoughts

5 Comments

sort form View by:
  • 0
    General CommentThere's been a lot of discussion about the meaning of this song. Nick has often said it's about Blixa, but the analogies aren't obvious at all. Some say Nick is the Ape and Blixa is Father Emmerich (which would make a lot of sense, since Blixa's real name is Emmerich). But others claim the contrary. And who's the cow and the serpent? Are they symbols for the Bad Seeds and EN? And the villagers? Fans? Why did the villagers chop the serpent open, and why did it contain "milk of human kindness"?

    Just trying to get the ball running. Nick's music is usually rich in analogies, but this one is really undecipherable. I'd like to read your opinions.
    king-inkon January 21, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe milk of human kindness was the milk that farmer Emmerich gave to the serpant. Dunno what it's meant to be like, symbolise kinda thing..
    __AwwSugaron January 23, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNever heard about the connections, but also haven't looked. I'll take some guessing stabs, since un-informed interpretation is more fresh, and Nick Cave's poetry is open enough to have a life of it's own in the mind of each listener.

    Check snopes.com/glurge/…
    for the origin of the term "milk of human kindness". I knew it was an allusion, but had to look it up myself.

    The farmer does provide the serpent with milk... presumably cow milk. It seems that he is giving it something in captivity that it previously had 'outside' (or 'in' the barn, whatever the barn may represent).

    dream-like imagery, hafta research it more, but I wanted to get some more thoughts to bat around.
    warmPhaseon February 28, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentuh... there were an ape and a serpent in the garden of Eden.
    when i was stoned I though Farmer Emmerich was supposed to represent God, but now I aint sure
    one or clownon October 28, 2010   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionI think it's clear that it's about Blixa (Emmerich being his real name as someone already said). As I see it, it somehow echoes Aesop's myth "The Farmer and the Viper" (books.google.com/…). The song uses many symbols from the myth: the farmer, the snake, kindness as a notion. Not exactly sure what he is trying to say or what the other symbols mean, Nick's lyrics are always full of allegories and meanings. It does sound though like a mixture of bitterness (because he left the band), thankfulness (for what he had offered while being a part of it) and maybe a bit of sarcasm (not in a really bad way though). Looks like a riddle to me, and one that contains other riddles too.
    nachtblumeon June 20, 2011   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain