The boatman calls from the lake
A lone loon dives upon the water
I put my hand over hers
Down in the lime tree arbour

The wind in the trees is a-whispering
Whispering low that I love her
She puts her hand over mine
Down in the lime tree arbour

Every breath that I breathe
And every place I go
There is a hand that protects me
And I do love her so

There will always be suffering
It flows through life like water
I put my hand over hers
Down in the lime tree arbour

The boatman, he has gone
And the loons have flown for cover
She puts her hand over mine
Down in the lime tree arbour

Through every word that I speak
And every thing I know
There is hand that protects me
And I do love her so



Lyrics submitted by Dressed2Depress, edited by smallwonderrobot

Lime Tree Arbour song meanings
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7 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentTo me, this is more about a love that has died, or is dying, than a person that have died. Lime Tree Arbour might refer to a place that meant alot to the relationship, perhaps where they both first met, where they spent time together, where they split up, and where they go when they want to cherish the memories about what they had.

    The entire album seems full of songs about lost love or ruined relationships, maybe apart from West Country Girl which have a hymn of hope about it.
    Rikollon May 03, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWow, I really can't believe this song has no comments. This is one of the greatest songs off of what i think is arguably Nick and Co.'s finest effort to date. But i know a lot of people don't care for this album, which is a shame. As Nick puts it, duende (the inexplicable sadness) is paramount for all love songs to truly be, and where the Bads Seeds are concerned, no album has more of it than Boatman's.

    For some reason, i always got the impression Nick was singing about a woman that had died, making the song, for me anyway, just that much sadder. The image of the boatman (or charon) ferrying the dead has no small part in that i'm sure. I picture a man, sitting in a lime tree arbour saddly remember a woman who now protects him everywhere and always. Perhaps the arbour was a place they shared together.

    The boatman having left by the end of the song leads me in this direction too - as well as Nick's use of the word "PUT" in his stanza, in contrast to "PUTS" in hers. This is small, i know, but for some reason, i always found his use of put to imply past tense, as in he no longer puts his hand on hers. However, she still puts hers on his. Weird i know, but thats always the sense i got.

    Would love to know what other people think about this wonderful song.
    StickityWicketon July 03, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPal,i share your interpretation on this song,which i think is very beautiful!
    armagezonon February 27, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI see this song as a man only having solace in his one true love. This being about her death is plausible but I think it is not the main point. He says "there will always be suffering, it flows through life like water" and after that verse everything leaves. The boatman is gone and the loons are hiding and the scene that he described has passed but her love still remains. If she has gone than that is even more romantic imo for her love remains with him and protects him from the pains of life even after she has left him. However he just stays in the Lime Tree Arbour just to remember her and relive it; it's equally sad.
    Coowon May 08, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don`t actually see any indication that she has died
    whoopon August 24, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThere will always be suffering
    It flows through life like water

    One of Nick Cave's finest
    HeathenChildon June 05, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI wish Cave had called this song "lime tree bower" just to make the Coleridge reference more explicit.
    spinalon October 13, 2016   Link

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