"Broken Harp" as written by and Polly Jean Harvey....
Please don't reproach me
For, for how empty
My life has become

I don?t know what really happened
I watched your disappointment
At being misunderstood
I forgive you

Oh, something metal
Tearing my stomach out
If you think ill of me

Can you, can you forgive me?
Forgive me
Can you, can you forgive me
Too, too?

I tried to learn your language
But fell asleep half-undressed
Unrecognizable to myself

Lyrics submitted by stentorian

"Broken Harp" as written by Polly Jean Harvey

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Broken Harp song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentNah, there's plenty of hints at abortion / miscarriage on the album, but in this instance I think the metal tearing her stomach out is just a description of how she feels with hurt of being misunderstood, or of seeing the person she's talking to feeling misunderstood.

    It's a brilliant but really difficult ablum. I love Polly's un-commercial records, much more so than the big rock one, but this one is really difficult listening, excellent, but not something you're going to put on all that often.
    SuitBoyon June 17, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentDifficult albums are usually my favourite ones.
    missmeon February 25, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI've always thought that "something metal tearing my stomach out" was about surgery or a knife in the stomach (suicide).
    I'm sure that's not what Polly had in mind.
    And the learning of another language and misunderstanding what someone said. Seems like a failed relationship, they are unable to communicate with each other.
    ALouon January 19, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI hear her speaking to the child she miscarried. Sometimes the miscarriage is not complete and there is surgery (e.g., When Under Ether). The woman seeks forgiveness even though she could not help the miscarriage. Heartbreaking song.
    blackalisson November 15, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song talks about a relationship, deep relationship, where life, jobs, whatever, makes it harder, hence becoming distance from one another, but still love each other deeply, and start seeing other people, because of the humbrum of it...and she is really sorry it all has gone to hell, but at the same time she has no fucking clue of what to do.
    stentorianon September 17, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think its about her having an abortion, and her partner resents her for it.
    idkwhatlolon December 31, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it is really about an abortion.

    Metal in the stomach - instrument for abortion.
    Language - baby's cry.
    bear_hug20on March 25, 2008   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI think this song is about a deeply unhealthy relationship. Polly's character has fallen in love with someone monstrous and/or evil.

    "Please don't reproach me
    For how empty my life has become."

    -Her life is empty except for her lover, but he's bored with her and wants her to entertain herself rather than relying on her

    "I don't know what really happened"

    -She "doesn't know what really happened" because she can't keep track of the awful things she's done for him out of love.

    "I watched your disappointment
    At being misunderstood.
    I forgive you."

    -Because she loves him, she forgives him his horrible traits; he isn't bad, just "misunderstood."

    "Oh something metal
    Tearing my stomach out
    If you think ill of me."

    -This is a metaphor; she's so infatuated with him that the thought of disappointing him is like "something metal tearing [her] stomach out."

    "Can you forgive me, too?"

    -She did disappoint him and begs for his forgiveness, reminding him of how she has forgiven him.

    "I tried to learn your language,
    But fell asleep,
    Unrecognisable to myself."

    She tried to live his life with him ("learn [his] language") but at some point she lost track of her own morality ("fell asleep") and had her identity stripped from her ("half-undressed") to the point where she doesn't even recognize herself anymore.

    This is just the way I read the song, and it's heavily colored by my watching both Let the Right One In and Let Me In recently; the song could perfectly summarize the way Eli/Abby's older "companion" feels about her.
    ACD8Kon July 03, 2011   Link

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