"The Silky Veils of Ardor" as written by and Joni Mitchell....
I am a poor wayfaring stranger
Traveling through all these highs and lows
I heard there was no sickness
And no toil or danger
Just mercy and plenty
Where peaceful waters flow
Where peaceful waters flow

Come all you fair and tender school girls
Be careful now--when you court young men
They are like the stars
On a summer morning
They sparkle up the night
And they're gone again
Daybreak, gone again

If I'd only seen through the silky veils of ardor
What a killing crime this love can be
I would have locked up my heart
In a golden sheath of armor
And kept its crazy beating
Under strictest secrecy
High security

I wish I had the wings
Of Noah's pretty little white dove
So I could fly this raging river
To reach the one I love
But I have no wings
And the water is so wide
We'll have to row a little harder
It's just in dreams we fly
In my dreams we fly!

Lyrics submitted by just_old_light

"The Silky Veils of Ardor" as written by

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Crazy Crow Music / Siquomb Music Publishing

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The Silky Veils of Ardor song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentJoni took the first few lines of the lyrics (not the melody) from a well-known slave-era spiritual and applied them in a different context. That context being the sense of disappointment (at best) and being discouraged by the outcome of romantic trials and tribulations. The songs on Don Juan's Reckless Daughter cover a wide range of emotional states and this one ends the album on a note of sadness and longing for happier outcomes in romantic forays. It also contrasts with the other songs in that many of them are jazzy and are largely supported instrumentally by piano and band, but this is backed by what sounds like solo acoustic guitar and has a standard song structure.
    greendreameron February 14, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLove this one. It sounds like it could've been on Song To A Seagull. Fantastic imagery as well.
    Dionysuson January 19, 2014   Link
  • 0
    Song FactBefore she got famous Joni sang a lot of traditional folk songs; not just the first few lines of this song, but virtually all of the lines are adapted from traditional material. The first verse is from "Poor Wayfaring Stranger"; compare Joan Baez's lyrics:

    I am a poor wayfaring stranger
    Wandering through this world of woe
    And there's no sickness, no toil or danger
    In that bright land to which I go

    The second and third verses are from "Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies"; compare these lyrics, again by Joan Baez:

    Come all ye fair and tender ladies
    Be careful how you court young men
    They're like a star on a summer's morning
    They'll first appear and then they're gone

    If I had known before I courted
    that love was such a killing thing
    I'd a-locked my heart in a box of golden
    and fastened it up with a silver pin

    The last verse isn't clearly based off a single traditional verse, but the first two lines remind me of another verse of "Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies":

    But I'm not a little sparrow
    I have no wings with which to fly
    So I sit here in grief and sorrow
    To weep and pass my troubles by

    The line about the water being wide is a reference to another traditional folk song, "The Water Is Wide".

    The water is wide, I cannot get o'er
    Neither have I wings to fly
    Give me a boat that can carry two
    And both shall row, my love and I

    So if you like the lyrics of this song, check out the songs which inspired them! In particular, check out June Carter's rendition of "Fair and Tender Ladies", it's hauntingly beautiful. I do love the way Joni adapts the lyrics to herself in this song too.
    Alceson November 26, 2014   Link

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