"Lady in Black" as written by and Ken Hensley....
She came to me one morning
One lonely Sunday morning
Her long hair flowing in the mid-winter wind
I know not how she found me
For in darkness I was walking
And destruction lay around me
From a fight I could not win
Ah, ah, ah

She asked me name my foe then
I said the need within some men
To fight and kill their brothers without thought of men or God
And I begged her give me horses
To trample down my enemies
So eager was my passion to devour this waste of life
Ah, ah, ah

But she would not think of battle that
Reduces men to animals
So easy to begin and yet impossible to end
For she the mother of all men
Had counciled me so wisely that
I feared to walk alone again
And asked if she would stay
Ah, ah, ah

Oh, lady, lend your hand, I cried
Oh, let me rest here at your side
Have faith and trust in me, she said and filled my heart with life
There is no strength in numbers
I've no such misconceptions
But when you need me be assured I won't be far away
Ah, ah, ah

Thus having spoke she turned away
And though I found no words to say
I stood and watched until I saw her black cloak disappear
My labor is no easier
But now I know I'm not alone
I find new heart each time I think upon that windy day
And if one day she comes to you
Drink deeply from her words so wise
Take courage from her as your prize and say hello for me
Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah


Lyrics submitted by RainbowDemon, edited by tilhi

"Lady in Black" as written by Ken Hensley

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Lady in Black song meanings
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  • +7
    General CommentI think The Lady in Black is not an ordinary woman mourning for somebody who died because she is a special woman, a special presence.

    *1) First of all, she comes unexpectedly one morning and she seems to know the author of the poem, but he doesn't seem to know her.

    *2) she is able to see him, even if "in darkness I was walking". That's a subtle way to say that this is not an ordinary encountering.

    *3) the atmosphere of the song is not an ordinary one: "destruction lay around me/From a fight I could not win". it's about a war, a battle or something similar.

    *4) He had somehow wished her to be there, around him, because he wants to kill - to do what men usually do: "I said the need within some men/To fight and kill their brothers/Without thought of love or God". And in otrder to fight his enemies/kill he knows that she can help him. So he asks for her help: "And I begged her give me horses/To trample down my enemies/So eager was my passion/To devour this waste of life"

    *5) In the next unit we find out that she is "the mother of all men". She is capable of councelling the poet so that he fears to walk alone again ... She has the power to seduce him somehow, because after this encountering, he symbolic asks "if she would stay".

    *6) The next unit represents a kind of ode to the misterious lady: "Oh lady lend your hand outright/And let me rest here at your side" But she says to him somehow that his time has not come yet: "Have faith and trust/In peace she said" and tells him to have trust in peace. Then, she does something extraordinary: "filled my heart with life". It seems that the lady is capable to bring both dead or life.

    "But when you need me/Be assured I won't be far away"

    *7) The last unit may speak about the fact that facing death can inspire courage and wisdom to men: "And if one day she comes to you/Drink deeply from her words so wise/Take courage from her/As your prize/And say hello from me". We can see that the prize one man can get from encountering death is Courage. The poet himself is using this experience to understand that he can face death at each step: "But now I know I'm not alone", but this is strenghtening him: "I find new heart each time/I think upon that windy day". Now he knows he has nothing to loose, only his life and that can happen any moment.

    A last observation: Although Death is most represented as a skeleton holding a scythe, in many cultures Death is a lady. And that can explain why in this case death is a SHE, not a HE.
    ratzuscaon October 04, 2007   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationWhen I listened to the song I thought in some way that this was the Virgin Mary, because I am a Christian, how this guy is shattered from his war experiences but she comes to encourage him again.

    Another explanation is, I was talking with my boyfriend awhile ago about how I liked this song (which I do!) and he said he never heard it, so I recited some lyrics and commented on how I always wondered who she really is. He told me he thought she was Death, and if you listen the Lady in Black could be death:

    "Oh Lady lend your hand outright/Oh let me rest here at your side"/"Have faith and trust in me" she said/And filled my heart with life."/"There is no strength in numbers/Have no such misconception/But when you need me be assured I won't be far away."

    That's kind of like how he feels like he cannot go on and begs her to take his life (notice how he says "REST HERE AT YOUR SIDE"), but she tells him that he has the chance to live and stop the war. Then she tells him that he needs to die sometime, though, and his death is both needed--and not far away.

    Then, at the end -

    "And if one day she comes to you/Drink deeply from her words so wise/Take courage from her as your prize/And say hello for me."

    That might be saying, if Death ever comes to YOU, accept that it is your time and die with courage rather than fear. And it implies that the singer died, too, because when the random person dies he will see the singer in the next life--and say hello to Death as well.

    It's very creepy I thought but very fascinating as well.
    giftofsongon May 13, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOne of my favorite Heep songs.

    Ken Hensley is legendary.
    dbieon12on March 31, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI follow your opinion near exactly Ratzusca.

    about the only difference i get is that the guy isn't fighting a pointless war, but trying to fight to stop the fighting (does that make any sense?) He's fighting the "need in men to kill their brothers"

    anyway, the guy is beginning to lose/or has lost hope of ever winning, until this lady comes and inspires him to keep up the struggle. though it's impossible to end, it is the struggle that makes it worthwhile.
    evilMoWon January 26, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFrom the liner notes of the Salisbury LP: "Lady in Black, written early in November in Bradford, was inspired by the vision of an unknown girl"

    Anyway,this is one all-time classic,a marvellous song,with great music and abstract,poetic lyrics. Death, war, happiness,misery;all in the fighure of an unknown woman.Pure lyricism....
    armagezonon March 08, 2010   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningThis song is clearly about Morrigan, the celtic goddess of war. In the epic of celtic mythology, the hero Cúchulainn, after winning a battle, is visited by a Lady in Black (Morrigan who offers him her love and aid in battle. He refuses. Apparently, in this version, a nameless warrior after losing a battle is visited by the same Morrigan, and instead he embraces her offerings of aid and love.
    Brynwulfon January 09, 2011   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationRatzusca above made some good points. Uriah heap is playing with a cultural archetype here, and it would seem to me that our spontaneous interpretation will depend on our cultural background. However, it is unlikely that the song refers to a fairy or a specialized Celtic goddess. Calling her "the mother of all men" limits the possible selections somewhat. A catholic might interpret her to be an appearance of the virgin Mary. For me, being Buddhist, it was always clear that the song is about Kuan shi Yin, (Guanshi, Guanyin etc.), an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion. Kuanyin is also called "the hearer of cries" and even "Lord of the World". Uriah Heap stated that the story was inspired by the appearance of an unknown girl - one of the classic folk legends of Kuan Yin is about the appearance of her in the form of a beautiful black haired unknown girl. And - it is pretty much her job description to respond to "cries" and lift people from darkness, turn violent thoughts into compassion and fill dark hearts with life again. Here is a short video about this particular legend... youtube.com/…

    But ultimately it does not matter: it can be equally well argued that the Lady in Black is some sort of "incarnation" of the christian Mary. It doesn't change the message the least bit. That there is a way out of darkness, that violence is no solution. That we can find relief and calm satisfaction in our most ordinary life. Perhaps only there. And that if we want to change the world we have to begin with ourselves. Ultimately common sense stuff. But so important...
    SThiesenon August 15, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAs SThiesen states they are playing with a cultural archetype. Upon listening to this song I immediately define this lady as Freedom, since I am Greek. In the contemporary Greek (18th cen. on)world Freedom is a lady and is always mentioned in ravaged battlefields and war scorched land talking to fallen and wounded heroes. Or dying heroes always die happy (in a sense) cause they will find lady Freedom at the end. Best example is the actual Greek national anthem that is talking about Freedom who can only be found from bones and swords.

    This can be easily be different in other cultures.
    christodon January 27, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentStill I listen to it with great pleasure. It was our whistling between our friends.
    ruguziskamrapon April 15, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentA wonderful song, I really love it and find very much sence in its lyrics. It makes us all think about the things that we do and is it right. And if something would change what we do just like the lady in black did.
    rumion June 04, 2006   Link

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