Down by the river junior year walking with my girl, and we came upon a place there in the tall grass where a couple had been making love and left the mark of their embrace. I said to her, "Looks like they had some fun." She said to me, "Let's do the same." and still I taste her kisses and her freckles in the sun when I play the poet game.

A young man down in hill country in the year of '22 went to see his future bride. She lived in a rough old shack that poverty blew through. She invited him inside. She'd been cooking, ashamed and feeling sad, she could only offer him bread and her name - Grandpa said that it was the best gift a fella ever had and he taught me the poet game.

I had a friend who drank too much and played too much guitar - and we sure got along. Reel-to-reels rolled across the country near and far with letters poems and songs.. but these days he don't talk to me and he won't tell me why. I miss him every time i say his name. I don't know what he's doing or why our friendship died while we played the poet game.

The fall rain was pounding down on an old New Hampshire mill and the river wild and high. I was talking to her while leaves blew down like a sudden chill - there was wildness in her eyes. We made love like we'd been waiting all of our lives for this - Strangers know no shame - But she had to leave at dawn and with a sticky farewell kiss left me to play the poet game.

I watched my country turn into a coast-to-coast strip mall and I cried out in a song: if we could do all that in thirty years, then please tell me you all - why does good change take so long? Why does the color of your skin or who you choose to love still lead to such anger and pain? And why do I think it's any help for me to still dream of playing the poet game?

Sirens wail above the fields - another soul gone down - another Sun about to rise. I've lost track of my mistakes, like birds they fly around and darken half of my skies. To all of those I've hurt - I pray you'll forgive me. I to you will freely do the same. so many things I didn't see, with my eyes turned inside, playing the poet game.

I walk out at night to take a leak underneath the stars - oh yeah that's the life for me. There's Orion and the Pleiades and I guess that must be Mars - all as clear as we long to be. I've sung what I was given - some was bad and some was good. I never did know from where it came and if I had it all to do again I am not sure I would play the poet game.


Lyrics submitted by OpinionHead

The Poet Game song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentWhy has no one commented? I haven't heard the original, but Ani DiFranco's cover is incredible. The lyrics are pretty self-explanatory, but still very soulful.
    OAMMon May 24, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is among Greg's best. One of my favorite tunes that never grows old. I've played this song for several people and they all agree it's wonderful.

    Love, Race, Friendship...every verse is a different issue. Wonderful stuff.
    seanmoc01on November 26, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLike OAMM above, my favorite version is by Ani DiFranco on the album Going Driftless, A Tribute To Greg Brown. This is the most played song on my iPod.

    This is such an emotion filled, beautiful song. Greg Brown is such a master of word, of imagery, it boggles my mind and makes me smile.

    To me this song is about the sweet and the sour of living our little lives and the relationships we have- with lovers, friends, ourselves, our world. It is about remembering and tasting the bittersweet that comes with the memory.

    I can't really describe in words what it is this song means to me, all I know is that it speaks to me on so many levels, and it makes me feel warm and comforted every time I hear it. wonderful song.
    SledCatcheron August 28, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOne of my favorite songs ever written. Up there with the best of em. Greg brown is actually quite an amazing musician, I recently purchased his second album just on a whim at amoeba and was really impressed by his early stuff, which was much more interesting that I thought it would be.

    In my opinion Defranco's version cannot even touch Greg's but thats just a style different, I'm sure to whomever is a fan of Ani loves the song just the same as I love greg's version.
    awearymanon February 26, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFantastic song, philosophical and poetic with so many strong images. One of Greg's best, but there are several of similar quality.
    BothArgumentson January 28, 2013   Link

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