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There is no grace in act five
Only the nerves, insect-like twitches
Involuntary bowel movements, and confusion
a snail in salt doesn't fall asleep
with a half-smile
like Grandma from the after-school special
it twists and contorts
it jerks and writhes for some time
like a living severed limb on fire

All the people who taught me card tricks are dying
I've been trying
to get my pop-pop's good looks from old snapshots
And all the people who taught me card tricks are dying
I've been trying
to steal my grandfather's handsome from old photographs

Even if the world is saved
And the couples kiss before the credits list
There will be more than a lifetime of death
In the scrambled signal snow that's left
when the black intake runs out
the invisible frames death tacked to your movie reel
far outweigh the reel itself

All the people who taught me card tricks are dying
I've been trying
to get my poppa's good looks from old snapshots
And all the people who taught me card tricks are dying
I've been trying
to steal my grandfather's handsome from old photographs

There is no grace in act five

A circus tent and all the folding chairs fit in an old coffin for travel
A circus tent and all the folding chairs fit in an old coffin for travel


Lyrics submitted by walkintothec, edited by nnnnnn

Act Five song meanings
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12 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentA friend and I were discusing how this song is about Hamlet by Shakespeare.

    "There is no grace in act five"-
    Refers to how the characters are shown at their worst in the last act. The next lines of the verse describes how messy and undignified a body can be while dieing. Much like how many of the main characters act just before and while dieing.

    "All the people who taught me card tricks are dying"-
    This line is not only referring to Hamlet's dead father but also his father's court jester, Yorick, who played with Hamlet as a child. Hamlet holds the jester's skull during his famous "To be or not to be..." speech.

    "I've been trying
    to get my pop-pop's good looks from old snapshots"-
    Hamlet is trying to be a good king like his father and grandfather were.

    "Even if the world is saved
    And the couples kiss before the credits list"
    There will be more than a lifetime of death"-
    Even if Hamlet can dethrone his insane unckle Claudius, then get with Ophelia, who is also somewhat out of her mind, there will still be a war with Denmark. Hamlet is not strong enough to be king. The war will last longer than a life span hence "more than a lifetime of death"

    "A circus tent and all the folding chairs fit in an old coffin for travel"-
    This line, I believe, the poet himself would have enjoyed a great deal. It is compairing the court of Claudius to a circus and the death of its performers.


    Incredibly well written and thought out song. Is Why? just too intelligent to be more popular? With such deliciously interesting lyrics and melodies, I can think of no other reason...
    LynnaBakeron July 31, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFor me, the line "A circus tent and all the folding chairs fit in an old coffin for travel" has always meant that when you die, the whole show that was your life disappears with you and your coffin. As magical as a circus show can appear, with its clowns, animals, jugglers and whatnot, in the end it's just a tent and a bunch of folding chairs that are put in a box, and all the magic is gone and forgotten.

    Or maybe it's a little less literal, maybe the circus tent is the human skin and all the folding chairs are our bones, all that is left of us when we die, and however magnificent you or others might have thought of you, it all fits into a small wooden box. The idea - however - remains similar than with the more literal meaning: when we die, all the magic that made our life into what it was is instantly gone, and you're left with just the empty shell.
    botulismon October 20, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAbsolutely beautiful.
    Simply great.
    One of Why?/s best.
    Mr. Shiveron May 09, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"All the people who taught me card tricks are dying."

    That line is brilliant.
    proposalson May 15, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentextremely fucking depressing song
    frinkianzon April 21, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGood song!
    Dasuitekillaon August 29, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is certainly about death, but I do think the Hamlet thing is very interesting. I never thought of that.

    "There is no grace in act five
    Only the nerves, insect-like twitches
    Involuntary bowel movements, and confusion"

    Meaning that death is not a graceful thing. It's scary to watch and to do. Act five I guess refers to the end of something, the end of ones life, death.

    The chorus I think is Yoni trying to remember or even bring back his dead loved ones through pictures. I know when I look at pictures of my dead relatives it's to remember them as they were before they died. "I've been trying to steal my grandfather's handsome from old photographs" He wants to remember them as good looking people, not as the confused and twitching people he describes them as in the first few lines.


    ComicalBirdon January 06, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think that the line, "A circus tent and all the folding chairs fit in an old coffin for travel", simply means that death is ubiquitous, even in the most positive of environments, such as a circus.
    Christianhubbardon August 13, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe line "A circus tent and all the folding chairs fit in an old coffin for travel" is about funerals.
    thestarhearton October 16, 2009   Link
  • 0
    MemoryI never had a song sack me in the gut so close and so painfully before. I felt it rise slowly from my stomach into my heart then up into my throat until I felt like I wanted to throw up. The song is so beautiful and sad and relevant to my life right now. I am losing my grandparents right now both mentally and physically.

    I got to talk to Yoni for a little while after they did a free hometown show in Cincinnati. Unfortunately, I was a blubbering sloppy drunk at the time to share with him how his lyrics have changed my life. And dammit, now I can't even remember what we talked about... I think it was about headphones.


    "There is no grace in act five..."
    born2bflyon December 17, 2010   Link

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