Sorrow's child sits by the river
Sorrow's child hears not the water
Sorrow's child sits by the river
Sorrow's child hears not the water
And just when you feel as though
You've got strength enough to stand
Sorrow's child all weak and strange
Stands waiting at your hand

Sorrow's child steps in the water
Sorrow's child you follow after
Sorrow's child wades in deeper
Sorrow's child invites you under
And just when you thought as though
All your tears were wept and done
Sorrow's child grieves not what has passed
But all the past still yet to come
Sorrow's child sits by the water
Sorrow's child your arms enfold her
Sorrow's child you're loath to befriend her
Sorrow's child but in sorrow surrender
And just when it seems as though
All your tears were at an end
Sorrow's child lifts up her hand
And she brings it down again



Lyrics submitted by Dressed2Depress, edited by trillium8

Sorrow's Child song meanings
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9 Comments

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  • +1
    My InterpretationThe Sorrow's child is not a person (e.g.doesnt hear the water); it is a symbol - the personified Despair, Desolation or Suicidal Thoughts or something like that. The main character of the song is somebody "you" who is weak and despairing, who sits often by the river with this Sorrow's child around but who from time to time has the strength to recover his spirits. However in such cases, the Sorrow's child leads him back again to/into/under the water (again a symbol, hopelessness or proximity to death) or at least brings his tears down again...
    b4udel4ireon October 11, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think its about a girl who commits suicide at the end of this song! Maybe I'm wrong?
    Lizzaon March 03, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFirstly, i love this song. It's a really sad song on an album that isn't drowning in sorrow - which makes it a standout for me. The piano in this song could, as they say, melt marble. Make me want to burst into tears.

    As far as the girl commiting suicide - i don't think this song is as cut and dry as that. And if it is that plain, i would imagine the person committing the suicide would be the person giving into sorrow's child, not sorrow's child itself, which i don't believe to be an actual person at all, but the personification of an emotion, or a situation causing you to give into sorrow, and then perhaps ULTIMATELY suicide.

    Maybe sorrow's child IS suicide - suicide is certainly something you could claim sorrow gives birth to - and in that context the song takes on a slighty different perspective.

    I don't know though - seems too thin. Would like to hear some other thoughts to that, but i doubt anyone'll be looking up Sorrow's Child anytime soon - people seem to angle more towards his newer songs or his hits. Damn shame - First, Born, Your Funeral and Tender Prey have lots of fantastic songs - back Nick used to write about more interesting things than compiling lists of flowers and philosophers.
    StickityWicketon July 03, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI adore this song, though its meaning is not overly clear to me...

    "Sorrow's child all weak and strange
    Stands waiting at your hand"
    These lines really intrigue me.
    jade_jade_jadeon July 07, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt feels like the ebb and flow of life. Sorrow's child sits by the river but hears not the water. sits on the edge of danger, but doesn't hear it coming?
    Also, when he says you thought all your tears were wept and done...grieves not what has passed but all the past still yet to come...it seems to me he is talking about how we do not fear the future mistakes but sorrow's child knows better.
    lifts up her hand and she brings it down again tells me she might have been thinking of asking for help up but then thought better about it.
    hpalittoon October 07, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is full of symbols and metaphors, and should not be taken literally, so I don't think it's about a girl killing herself, as mentioned above.
    I think it's about trying to fight a mental state and emotion that makes the person feel as if they are being dragged under.
    I stumbled upon the following quote by accident, but it made me see the song in a new light, since Nick mentioned that he used to take heroin to stop all the thoughts and voices/songs/stories in his head and just be 'normal':

    "Genius is sorrow's child."
    Adams, John
    the_boatmanon October 26, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it is about a guy whose lover drowned.

    "Sorrow's child lifts up her hand
    And she brings it down again"
    means she is dead.

    All the stuff about him no hearing the water and the hands that waiting for him,i think mean he is considering drowing himself,too...
    armagezonon February 18, 2010   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationTo me this song is about the necessity to meet sorrow in our life, about sorrow as something unavoidable and valuable. If you avoid sorrow your life is worthless.

    "hears not the water" refers to that when you are in sorrow you are totally in it and don´t take so much notice of the outside world.

    "And just when it seems as though
    You've got strength enough to stand
    Sorrow's child all weak and strange
    Stands waiting at your hand". This is something you often experience when you´re longing for the sorrow to end. But you´re not ready yet.

    "Sorrow's child steps in the water
    Sorrow's child you follow after
    Sorrow's child wades in deeper
    Sorrow's child invites you under". Here he describes how you let yourself get deeper into the sorrow.

    "And just when you thought as though
    All your tears were wept and done
    Sorrow's child grieves not what has passed
    But all the past still yet to come". Your work is not done yet. Sorrow´s child knows that things from the past will emerge.

    "Sorrow's child sits by the water
    Sorrow's child your arms enfold her
    Sorrow's child you're loathe to befriend her
    Sorrow's child but in sorrow surrender". This is not a very pleasant activity, ”you´re loathe to befriend her”, but you know you have to do this in order to become fully aware and alive so you surrender.

    "And just when is seems as though
    All your tears were at an end
    Sorrow's child lifts up her hand
    And she brings it down again". You have to go through this over and over again.

    This is just the way this song talks to me. I suppose it can say something else to another person. That´s the beauty of poetry.

    Sorrow´s child is you.
    Rodenbackon August 29, 2012   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI've always thought the lyrics are almost at odds with the music in this one, simply because the lyrics are rather dark, while the music, particularly those piano flourishes, are so beautiful and uplifting.

    I think this juxtaposition works though, because the nice piano melody is uplifting, offering a kind of release, while the lyrics remind us that even in moments of euphoria, 'Sorrows Child' is never far away from us, and in fact, we almost can't live without it.

    I see Sorrows Child, not just as a metaphor for sadness, but also a sadness that all humans embrace, albeit begrudgingly 'Your loathe, to Befriend her.' In other words, we accept that sorrow is a part of life and even when we are at our most content, it is always waiting for us off in the distance.
    JJKelsallon January 24, 2014   Link

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