The god of man is a failure
Our fortress is burning against the grain of the shattered sky
Charred birds escape from the ruins and return as cascading blood
Dying bloodbirds pooling, feeding the flood
The god of man is a failure
And all of our shadows are ashes against the grain


Lyrics submitted by Bloodmouth, edited by EugenioTM

Our Fortress Is Burning... II - Bloodbirds song meanings
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8 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentI'm obsessed with this song .. Easily one of their greatest.
    Apollyon.on July 31, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentGreat Song. This song means that mankind is a useless creature. We are not special at all and as agalloch put it, our ashes will fade away in the wind. So all of our religions and philosophies are a completely meaningless
    craginsla1on September 25, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI feel like the Fortress could be the symbolic construct of man's pride and supposed power, and that in its burning down, it becomes relinquished.
    Anilandon October 24, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI've loved this song and band for years. It wasn't until recently while watching a short video about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima that I put any elaborate meaning behind it.

    "The god of man is a failure."
    Witnessing the total and absolute destruction created by the bomb, the city flattened, its people incinerated, doesn't show much about our morality. Where was our god that day? We surely weren't influenced by him. When it mattered, people didn't follow their god. The god of man is a failure because it had no real effect on the actions of man.
    "Our fortress is burning against the grain of the shattered sky."
    The fortress is simply the Earth, burning under the flaming mushroom cloud of the blast. The fortress could be extended as a metaphor for mankind, how we are falling apart as a whole, with the bomb as evidence. And the sky, naturally beautiful, is shattered by the event. The contaminated cloud cuts like a scar against the horizon.
    "Charred birds escape from the ruins and return as cascading blood"
    As you probably know, the initial blast isn't the only killer in a nuclear explosion. The pulverized debris now flying through the air at breakneck speeds turns into radioactive fallout, and will remain deadly for a long time. It escaped from the ruins of the city, and fell back to Earth, ready to cause radiation poisoning or a cancerous death.
    "Dying bloodbirds pooling, feeding the flood"
    The fallout drifts gently down upon the ruins of the city, creating a blanket of radiation, contributing their part to the destruction.
    "The god of man is a failure."
    Point proven.
    "And all of our shadows are ashes against the grain"
    The destruction was so complete that the remains from a building couldn't be differentiated from the remains of a person. Everything was instantly incinerated. The explosion was so bright, and so hot, that it burned everything it touched. The only evidence left behind of human life was their shadows against a wall sturdy enough to remain standing. The wall around them was burned and darkened, but the people bore the burning before the wall. After their instant cremation, this outline was the only indication of life every existing there.

    I seriously doubt this is what the band had in mind while creating the song, but after thinking about it in that context, it's the only way I can hear it. To me, it adds a lot of emotional depth while listening, and that's all that matters.
    tmil1203on April 09, 2014   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationDoes anyone know what the "Fortress" is supposed to mean? Extended metaphor for something or another surely? That's burning, is to do with religion and man... I take it, being pagans, the "fortress" is an anthropomorphisim of Man's Realm in the Earth or something?

    Insanely win song though, very win.
    Fade 2 blackon October 12, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti dont think it means that God is a failure, but that man, who considers himself a god, is. Nature, which according to Agalloch's philosophy, is the god that shall live on. i find this message similar to 'in the shadow of our pale companion'

    anyone have any ideas as to what they mean by 'the grain'?
    wayfechyldeon October 02, 2010   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationIt seems to me that the theme of this song is similar to the one in "...And The Great Cold Death Of The Earth" from their previous album The Mantle. The message it wants to convey is that we are intruders on this Earth, and the ones responsible for its destruction. They both depict the world, possibly not in a distant future, perishing and falling because of the depredation of environment by man. Basically, humanity is against the rules and the will of nature. In the end, the world meets its inevitable bitter end.

    "We are the wounds and the great cold death of the earth
    Darkness and silence, the lights shall flicker out."
    EugenioTMon July 11, 2013   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionThis song expresses my pessimistic view of life and mankind perfectly. I cannot recall how many times I have shed tears with this song, especially when he cries in agony at the end.
    This is my interpretation of it. Remember that this is just my personal view on the song. Art is subjective, anyone may draw his own conclusions.

    "The god of man is a failure"

    I do not believe they mean literally a god of an organized religion. I think what is meant here is the "God" that mankind has become. A powerful, destructive force that is a bane on this planet, both to nature and to ourselves.

    "Our fortress is burning against the grain of the shattered sky
    Charred birds escape from the ruins and return as cascading blood
    Dying bloodbirds pooling, feeding the flood"

    I like to think of these 3 lyrics as having a double meaning.
    a) The planet's point of view: The fortress in this case is nature. A forest being burned along with all the animals that live in it. The fires are extending high against the shattered, blackened sky. The birds being mentioned represent animals and nature and all the collective death that they have seen, all the drops of blood that have created a pool of blood. Nature is dying along with all of its creatures, and mankind is the reason.

    b) Mankind's point of view: The fortress, under this light, is civilization. We have commited so many crimes towards our planet, that we have forged our demise and our civilization is bound to be destroyed. The sky (Earth) is shattered, and the grains of time that count our demise keep falling. We do not have much time left. We will all be wiped from the face of the Earth, and our arrogance will be our own undoing. We have wounded the Earth beyond repair, and the natural disasters that will occur will be our end. In this case, we are the birds. We are charred, because we live in a fortress that is burning. We become blood in the sense that we all add to the bloodshed of the planet. We are all equally to blame. Imagine all the wrongs mankind has committed as a huge pool of blood, and each and every human as one drop.

    "The god of man is a failure
    And all of our shadows are ashes against the grain"

    After having expressed the opinion that we will all die after having killed everything else on the planet, it is repeated that we, as a species, are a failure. Our shadows are our wretched existences. What was charred and burning is now ashes. We are dying along with nature.

    The cries at the end... I like to percieve them both as cries of mother Earth as she is bleeding in agonizing pain, or as the desperate cry of a man expressing his shame and wrath towards the rest of mankind.
    Pure_evulon May 24, 2014   Link

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