"When Under Ether" as written by and Polly Jean Harvey....
The ceiling is moving
Moving in time
Like a conveyor belt
Above my eyes

When under ether
The mind comes alive
But conscious of nothing
But the will to survive

I lay on the bed
Waist down undressed
Look up at the ceiling
Feeling happiness
Human kindness

The woman beside me
Is holding my hand
I point at the ceiling
She smiles so kind

Something's inside me
Unborn and unblessed
Disappears in the ether
This world to the next

Disappears in the ether
One world to the next
Human kindness

Lyrics submitted by zeros1x, edited by PinkInk

"When Under Ether" as written by Polly Jean Harvey

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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When Under Ether song meanings
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  • +2
    General Commentshe's feeling happiness because she's 'under ether' or anaesthetic. Shes high due to the drugs she's been given.. This may not be about abortion but miscarridge, the procedure a woman has to go through to remove the foetus after miscarridge.. i think the whole album could be about 2 pregnancy's both lost and a lost lover too.
    ImMyRuinon February 08, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Commentsuch a beautiful song.about a miscarriage i think.the lady next to her-mother/nurse?
    poeticoolon March 20, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentFrom Part III of T.S. Eliot's "East Coker"

    I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
    Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre,
    The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed . . .

    Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too
    long between stations
    And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence
    And you see behind every face the mental emptiness
    Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about;
    Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious
    of nothing--
    pinkmonsteron February 02, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe "ether" being referred to in this song is not the anesthetic, but rather the fabric of the universe, where the baby is returning to. C'mon, this is clearly about an abortion -- "waist down undressed", and with a woman beside her holding her hand? One of PJ's easier to interpret songs, but still amazing...
    schnitzion December 06, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentEther was used for anaesthesia during childbirth, starting in the mid 1800s, up until about 1915 when they started using "twilight sleep" which used different drugs. The lyrics "feeling happiness" suggest childbirth to me, and not a miscarriage or abortion. "something's inside me... disappears into the ether" could be talking about her state of mind under the drugs, where she becomes "conscious of nothing but the need to survive". Childbirth is a bit like that anyway, it's like going through a tunnel even without drugs.
    zillahon April 25, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commenthospital beds have wheels, and when you are lying on your back and being moved to a hospital room on one of them, the ceiling looks like it is moving
    TomPon June 06, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General Commentokay i recently discovered that it's "human kindness" rather than "you unkind mess." whenever the edit function comes back, i'll change it.
    zeros1xon August 07, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentis it about an abortion?
    zooetropeon August 18, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAbortion it is. Feeling happiness for what? Better to let the unborn baby disappear to the next world. Could be human kindness if the unborn babys future is pitch black due to a mentally ill mother or victim of rape. Longshot but not impossible: A lonley mother cant raise a child; human kindness from the cristian right-wing who thinks its better to take the bastard away in the name of mom/dad/kid norm. Ether is the tranqulizer to comfort the mom.
    It´s Jimbobon November 02, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit is so beautiful.
    johannsenon November 26, 2007   Link

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