when you ate I saw your eyelashes
saw them shake like wind on rushes
in the corn field when she called me
moths surround me - thought they'd drown me

and I miss your precious heart...

dried rose petal, red-brown circles
framed your eyes and stained your knuckles

and all those lonely nights down by the river
brought me bread and water (water, in)
but though I tried so hard, my little darling
I couldn't keep the night from coming in

and all those lonely nights down by the river
I was brought my bread and water by the kith and the kin
now in the quiet hour when I am sleepin'
I cannot keep the night from comin' in

why've you gone away, gone away again?
I'll sleep through the rest of my days
if you've gone away again

sleep through the rest of my days...

why've you gone away, away?
seven suns, seven suns
away, away, away, away

can you hear me? will you listen?
don't come near me, don't go missing
in the lissome light of evening
help me, Cosmia, I'm grieving

and all those lonely nights down by the river
brought me bread and water (water, in)
but though I tried so hard, my little darling
I couldn't keep the night from coming in

and all those lonely nights down by the river
I was brought my bread and water by the kith and the kin
now in the quiet hour when I am sleepin'
I cannot keep the night from comin' in

beneath the porch light, we've all been circling
beat our dust hearts, singe our flour wings
but in the corner, something is happening!
wild Cosmia, what have you seen?

water were your limbs, and the fire was your hair
and then the moonlight caught your eye
and you rose through the air
well, if you've seen true light, then this is my prayer:
will you call me when you get there?

and I miss your precious heart
and miss, and miss, and miss
and miss, and miss, and miss
and miss, and miss your heart
but release your precious heart
to its feast, for precious hearts


Lyrics submitted by delial

Cosmia song meanings
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37 Comments

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  • +4
    General CommentOn the cover the 'butterfly' is a pinned Cosmia moth.

    This song is about the death of one of her best friends. Here are some quotes from an article I found:
    "...The hammer blow that began this series of hard knocks [the experiences that inspired the album] was the sudden death of Newsom’s best friend, 'one of the loves of my life.' Newsom got the call while she was driving between gigs, during the year when her career was first blowing up. 'So mortality is huge on this record. And there’s more than one type of death, of course, and that’s where the turmoil of the relationship figures in, but not quite as largely as you might suppose.'”


    "After the singer gets the devastating news, she walks into a cornfield, and moths almost drown her. Later, she invokes the classic image of moths immolating themselves in the artificial sun of a porch-light—those attractive but dubious goals towards which so many of us so readily plunge. But here wild Cosmia, her form a thing of water and fire, flutters off on a farther flight, towards the possibility of a 'true light' that might even shine back down here, when the night comes in.

    "Like the whole record, 'Cosmia' affirms life without offering a wisp of false consolation. 'The thing that I was experiencing and dwelling on the entire time is that there are so many things that are not OK and that will never be OK again,' says Newsom. 'But there’s also so many things that are OK and good that sometimes it makes you crumple over with being alive. We are allowed such an insane depth of beauty and enjoyment in this lifetime. It’s what my dad talks about sometimes. He says the only way that he knows there’s a God is that there’s so much gratuitous joy in this life. And that’s his only proof. There’s so many joys that do not assist in the propagation of the race or self-preservation. There’s no point whatsoever. They are so excessively, mind-bogglingly joy-producing that they distract from the very functions that are supposed to promote human life. They can leave you stupefied, monastic, not productive in any way, shape or form. And those joys are there and they are unflagging and they are ever-growing. And still there are these things that you will never be able to feel OK about–unbearably awful, sad, ugly, unfair things.'”


    "Towards the end of high school, when she was eighteen, Newsom went down alone to a wild spot along the river. After asking their assistance, she arranged some stones into a circle, and then sat down within the ring. She stayed in the circle for three days, fasting, facing the river. Her best friend and some pals camped a few miles away, bringing her water and small portions of rice while she slept. She had assigned herself things to do but abandoned them all. She just sat there and watched the river, and, even more, she listened to it.

    “'I was a completely different person before I went to the river, and a completely different person after,' Newsom says. When she first got back the girl was a total wreck. She would start crying when she woke up and not quit until she slept. She stopped going to school. She’d pick up the local paper, and read a headline like 'Man Dies in Car Crash,' and then the crash would be in her mind, and the man’s bloody crumbled body, and his pain and dread and fearful exit from this world. 'None of the calluses or borders or walls we put up to protect ourselves from going absolutely insane while experiencing life – none of those stood anymore. They had been worn completely away. I was like infantile and dysfunctional, a weepy, drunk mess.'”

    So yes--you find more and more that her songs don't just contain literary symbolism and abstractness, but they're her way of putting into words some of those close and visual memories she has of life and relationships, things that she has stored on her own heart.
    Anneliseon January 24, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentPersonally I enjoy how she sings the entire song, including "Kith and the kin" because her voice is so unique, and it just works for the songs.

    Anyways, in response to the 'Red-rimmed Glasses' comment. I would like to ask how glasses stain your knuckles?

    (I really enjoy singing along to her songs... Its like a vocal workout. Haha!)
    Sketchyon June 28, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI hate to be picky, but absolutely the only thing I don't love about this album is the way she sings "kith and the kin". I almost want to censor the sound she makes with her voice at those two points in the song.
    misterbojangleson January 27, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love this song! My mom makes fun of her voice but i absolutely love it, lol. it's also pretty interesting how she mentions moths a lot and cosmia is also the scientific name for moth.
    1derfulon July 18, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI just wanted to say that at the start when she describes the moths surrounding her in the corn field and almost drowning her, I think she's talking about how she's drowning in memories of her friend because she calls her friend Cosmia later in the song and Cosmia is the name for a moth.
    szreteron November 12, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis album is preposterously good.

    Uncanny, really.

    I only just heard of Joanna Newsom a couple of months ago. I went to see Larkin Grimm and Orion Rigel Dommisse. (Two fabulous artists in their own right; I highly recommend checking them out.) I was surprised there were so few people at that show and a woman there told me Joanna Newsom was playing the same night.

    "Who?"

    I asked.

    Now I feel like I've known her my whole life and even before.

    So prophetic, so talented, and my God, so young!
    weeping4brunnhildeon March 09, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm thinking the rose-colored stanza is not about glasses, but circular windowpanes. it makes sense to me - they frame your eyes as well, and you can have your knuckles stained if you try to break the glass with your own hands.
    drmnon December 27, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"but though I tried so hard, my little darling
    I couldn't keep the night from coming in"

    Those lines just make me want to cry I think its so amazing and for me describes how you feel when your alone at night and feel so lonely and you try to not get upset and try and blank everything out but you just cant do it. (thats just what those lines mean to me)
    pheephoxon July 10, 2009   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningI think this song is about missing someone that was very dear to you after they have passed away.

    "dried rose petal, red-brown circles
    framed your eyes and stained your knuckles"

    -Dried rose petals represent flowers being lain on top of the body, and stained knuckles and framed eyes represent what happens as bodies decay

    "and all those lonely nights down by the river
    brought me bread and water (water, in)
    but though I tried so hard, my little darling
    I couldn't keep the night from coming in"

    -The person was a nurturer to her when she felt sad and lonely. Now that the person is dead she can't help but feel sad and lonely.

    "I'll sleep through the rest of my days
    if you've gone away again...why've you gone away, away?
    seven suns, seven suns
    away, away..."

    -A Statement of how sad she is due to her loss

    "water were your limbs, and the fire was your hair
    and then the moonlight caught your eye
    and you rose through the air
    well, if you've seen true light, then this is my prayer:
    will you call me when you get there?"

    -Her remembering the loved ones attributes and trying to accept the fact that her dear friend/loved one has passed away.

    *The moth references are a little tricky. I think that she might find the cosmia moth very interesting and maybe even beautiful. The moth could in a way be helping her to cope...
    DariousM510on August 16, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commentso beautiful. i just got this album but i can't stop listening it. it may become one of my favorites ever.
    HyperGlitteron September 08, 2006   Link

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