"The Cave" as written by Marcus Oliver Johnstone Mumford, Edward James Milton Dwane, Benjamin Walter David Lovett and Winston Aubrey Aladar Marshall....
It's empty in the valley of your heart
The sun, it rises slowly as you walk
Away from all the fears
And all the faults you've left behind

The harvest left no food for you to eat
You cannibal, you meat-eater, you see
But I have seen the same
I know the shame in your defeat

But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again

'Cause I have other things to fill my time
You take what is yours and I'll take mine
Now let me at the truth
Which will refresh my broken mind

So tie me to a post and block my ears
I can see widows and orphans through my tears
I know my call despite my faults
And despite my growing fears

But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again

So come out of your cave walking on your hands
And see the world hanging upside down
You can understand dependence
When you know the maker's hand

So make your siren's call
And sing all you want
I will not hear what you have to say

'Cause I need freedom now
And I need to know how
To live my life as it's meant to be

And I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again


Lyrics submitted by Nobody-special, edited by 1770

"The Cave" as written by Marcus Oliver Johnstone Mumford, Edward James Milton Dwane, Benjamin Walter David Lovett, Winston Aubrey Aladar Marshall

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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The Cave song meanings
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  • +10
    My OpinionThis is such a wonderful song in oh so many ways.
    Tatterdemalion44on September 25, 2009   Link
  • +8
    General CommentI agree with what most people are saying, except the relationship aspect (guy/girl). I feel like the whole essence of this song goes far beyond the pain/joy of being with someone else. It's a song about self discovery in ways that transcend the actual concept of self.
    I definitely think the whole song is an overall reference to Plato's Allegory of the Cave.
    "It's empty in the valley of your heart
    The sun, it rises slowly as you walk
    Away from all the fears
    And all the faults you've left behind

    The harvest left no food for you to eat
    You cannibal, you meat-eater, you see
    But I have seen the same
    I know the shame in your defeat"
    This is his view of fellow "cave dwellers". He sees and understands the pain that they are enduring, but he ends this verse/sings the chorus to show that the difference isn't in people's situations, but in their view and response to them.
    "Cause I have other things to fill my time
    You take what is yours and I'll take mine
    Now let me at the truth
    Which will refresh my broken mind

    So tie me to a post and block my ears
    I can see widows and orphans through my tears
    I know my call despite my faults
    And despite my growing fears."
    It is in the second verse that he, in a way, becomes fed up with feeling sorry for himself and takes a step towards perspective. And although this song, overall, has very strong Christian, Biblical undertones, this verse is probably the most profound. There is a spiritual determination here. "Now let me at the truth which will refresh my broken mind."
    The second part of the second verse is my absolute favourite lyric. I am a huge fan of The Odyssey, his allusion is perfect for this song. Again, it calls to mind a sense of urgency, especially when bonded to it's unmistakable Biblical reference. He's so determined to see beyond himself and his "negative situation" to see the hurt and need in the world that is represented by the ones who have lost loved ones (widows and orphans).
    This is so significant because in Hebraic culture, the widow and the orphan represent the lowest of the low as far as social status goes. They represent the ones who are in the utmost need. The ones who have life's noose around their necks, if you will.
    "So make your siren's call
    And sing all you want
    I will not hear what you have to say

    Cause I need freedom now
    And I need to know how
    To live my life as it's meant to be"
    This song comes full circle by him being so compassionate, that he invites those in the "negative situations" to join his point of view (upside down - I Corinthians 1:25), and see that there are others who have less than they. But even though he is compassionate, he will not be dragged down by their complaints and their ideas of what is fair and what is unfair.
    Until this point, I have neglected to mention one the most key aspect of this song. In the chorus, he says, I'll know my name as it's called again. Although it can mean many things, I think that it goes along perfectly with the rest the clear Christian theme of this song.
    All throughout the Bible, when people would be called to higher purpose, out of their former situations, many times God would change their names as their lives and characters would also change. So his name would be called again as he changed his ways.
    Overall, no matter how you interpret this song, it is amazing. It is encouraging. It is just beautiful. Mumford & Sons is an amazing group of musicians.
    acidicbassiston April 15, 2010   Link
  • +6
    My InterpretationThis song is about reaching enlightenment. It references several texts in ancient theory, most notably Plato's Cave and Homer's Odyssey.

    Plato's Cave sets up a scenario in which prisoners, from childbirth, are shackled and chained deep within a cave, unable to move their heads and thus forced to look at the wall in front of them. Above and behind them, there is a platform, and behind that, a fire. On the platform figures walk and interact with objects, and the light from the fire projects their shadows onto the wall below. To the prisoners, the shadows are reality, being the only thing they have ever witnessed. When a prisoner breaks free, he turns around and realizes his idea of reality was a mere illusion, and despite being scared, goes further up until he reaches the sunlight outside of the cave, which is the source of all truth. He then returns to his fellow prisoners.

    It's empty in the valley of your heart
    The sun, it rises slowly as you walk
    Away from all the fears
    And all the faults you've left behind.

    (The one who has successfully made the journey, the enlightened one, has returned to his fellow prisoners, to convince them they must do the same)

    The harvest left no food for you to eat
    You cannibal, you meat-eater, you see
    But I have seen the same
    I know the shame in your defeat

    (Telling them how he once saw the way they did, a one sided view of the world)

    But I will hold on hope
    And I won't let you choke
    On the noose around your neck

    (I won't let you die still trapped by the chain around your neck)

    And I'll find strength in pain
    And I will change my ways
    I'll know my name as it's called again

    (Despite knowing he must change, he can never escape what he once was, like the prisoners)

    Because I have other things to fill my time
    You take what is yours and I'll take mine
    Now let me at the truth
    Which will refresh my broken mind.

    (Whether or not you will break free, I won't waste too much of my time. I have found the truth, and it refreshes my broken mind)

    So tie me to a post and block my ears
    I can see widows and orphans through my tears
    I know my call despite my faults
    And despite my growing fears

    (He knows this is what he was meant to become, despite his weariness of it)

    So come out of your cave walking on your hands
    And see the world hanging upside down
    You can understand dependence
    When you know the maker's land

    (You must break free of your chains, you can only truly live once you reach the sun)

    So make your siren's call
    And sing all you want
    I will not hear what you have to say

    (A reference to the sirens in the Homer's Odyssey. He says that no matter the temptations, he will not return to the shackled life)

    Because I need freedom now
    And I need to know how
    To live my life as it's meant to be

    (Self-explanatory)
    Mortaliason January 07, 2013   Link
  • +5
    General CommentThis song reminds me of leaving behind fears, gaining the courage to go out and really live life the way that was intended. Going out and exploring the land, becoming independent (yet dependent on the land). This song is so liberating.
    jiggadywigon October 08, 2009   Link
  • +5
    General CommentHow they fit together is a tough question I'm not going to try and answer, but this song makes 3 very clear literary references. And no, Plato's allegory isn't one of them. I don't know how that's still the prevailing theory.

    The first is the most obvious- Homer's The Odyssey

    "So tie me to a post and block my ears"
    "So make your siren's call
    And sing all you want
    I will not hear what you have to say"

    This is a reference to where Odysseus and his men leave Circe's island and pass the Sirens, creatures that call sailors to their death with beautiful songs.

    "Then every ear I barr'd against the strain,
    And from access of frenzy lock'd the brain.
    Now round the masts my mates the fetters roll'd,
    And bound me limb by limb with fold on fold.

    While to the shore the rapid vessel flies,
    Our swift approach the Siren choir descries;
    Celestial music warbles from their tongue,
    And thus the sweet deluders tune the song:
    ...
    Thus the sweet charmers warbled o'er the main;
    My soul takes wing to meet the heavenly strain;
    I give the sign, and struggle to be free;
    Swift row my mates, and shoot along the sea;
    New chains they add, and rapid urge the way
    Till, dying off, the distant sounds decay;"

    The second is the often confused one, but it's a pretty clear reference to G.K. Chesterton's biography of St. Francis of Assisi.

    "So come out of your cave walking on your hands
    And see the world hanging upside down
    You can understand dependence
    When you know the maker's hand"

    The reference is from where Chesterton describes Francis's conversion.

    "The man who went into the cave was not the man who came out again; in that sense he was almost as different as if he were dead, as if he were a ghost or a blessed spirit. And the effects of this on his attitude towards the actual world were really as extravagant as any parallel can make them. He looked at the world as differently from other men as if he had come out of that dark hole walking on his hands…
    If a man saw the world upside down, with all the trees and towers hanging head downwards as in a pool, one effect would be to emphasise the idea of dependence. There is a Latin and literal connection; for the very word dependence only means hanging. It would make vivid the Scriptural text which says that God has hung the world upon nothing. If Saint Francis had seen, in one of his strange dreams, the town of Assisi upside down, it need not have differed in a single detail from itself except in being entirely the other way round. But the point is this: that whereas to the normal eye the large masonry of its walls or the massive foundations of its watchtowers and its high citadel would make it seem safer and more permanent, the moment it was turned over the very same weight would make it seem more helpless and more in peril. It is but a symbol; but it happens to fit the psychological fact. Saint Francis might love his little town as much as before, or more than before; but the nature of the love would be altered even in being increased. He might see and love every tile on the steep roofs or every bird on the battlements; but he would see them all in a new and divine light of eternal danger and dependence. Instead of being merely proud of his strong city because it could not be moved, he would be thankful to God Almighty that it had not been dropped; he would be thankful to God for not dropping the whole cosmos like a vast crystal to be shattered into falling stars."

    The whole thing is here, but the cave part is in chapter 5: catholic-forum.com/saints/…

    The third is from the book of James.

    "I can see widows and orphans through my tears
    I know my call despite my faults
    And despite my growing fears"

    It references a well know verse on what true religion looks like. Caring for the "widow and the fatherless" is a common theme through the Old Testament.

    "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."
    emaildumpon July 27, 2012   Link
  • +4
    General CommentPlato's Cave, anyone? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    VertTheAbstracton December 30, 2009   Link
  • +4
    General Comment If you notice Mumford and Sons has an incredible amount of Christian and Biblical undertones, part of the reason i like them so much. Repeated things like "truth" and references to themes in the bible like in this song "Ill find strength in pain and i will change my ways ill know my name as its called again" I think the part about 'i will hold on hope, wont let you choke.....' refers to saving someone from the world and what awaits them, thus bringing them to God.
    "Come out out of your cave walking on your hands" or stop hiding from the truth (Cave) and humble yourself thus 'walking on your hands'. 'you can understand dependence when you know the makers land' another clear cut reference to God
    Well thats just what i got out of it, i just figured i'd give this perspective since i haven't seen it mentioned on here yet
    TrustThisInterpretationon January 27, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI am surprized no one noticed this. This song is an allusion to Homer's The Odyssey. The cave is when they were at the Isle of the Lotus Eaters and Odysseus was trapped by Circe. The reason I know this song is about Odysseus is because there is a part in the song where he says "tie me to a post and block my ears, I can see widows and orphans through my tears" there was a part in the Odyssey where they were going through the water and the sea sirens(this also is in conjunction withe the part where he says "so make your siren's call and sing all you want, I will not hear what you have to say) were signing and they would cause men to go mad. Odysseus let himself be lashed to the mast to endure it so he would not go crazy. The widows and orphans refers to his wife Penelope and his song Telemachus who thought he was dead. ALso the cannibal part is where calypso turns all the men into pigs and they don't know it and are feasting on humans who she turned into pigs. All of their songs are littered with literary allusions, like that song on the album where he says "stars hide your fires, these here are my disires" that is a mismash of a line from the play Macbeth "stars hide your fires and show not by black desires."
    lovelikelightningon December 04, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General CommentThese lyrics are poetry. I've enjoyed some of the interpreations written here. The literary allusions are interesting. Something wrote concisely (paraphasing), 'it's about person who can't help but to see into the dark wold and wants to be happy' That says a lot in its simplicity. My interpretation clearly sees a man who is deepy conflicted regarding his self itdentity. is caught but trying to escape the cultural paragdygm in which we all live. Our world isone fraught witht tension and divisiveness, we are programmed to accept the big lie, The lie that creates fear, lethargic hope, and the culltural myth that our lives can only be happy by competing for all things obedience and conformity can reward us. We will fight for out comforts, This charactor with in the song has, for a deeply personal reason chosen, against the odds, of breaking away to achieve truth and enlightenment. His struggle is internal; to surrender to an unjust and violent world and continue living in within a collective reality of struggle, phycological dependene on biases and mistruths. He is tired of the way has lived and wants his world view to evolve towar positivity and self potential.He won' allow himslef to kill himself, but won't listen to the srens that call him toward his self destruction. He knows what he's dome and and knows what self awareness he has attained. Thris represents us more sensitive and spiritual people and must struggle leave the negativity of our past and perhaps present actions.
    TinWhiskeron October 22, 2012   Link
  • +3
    My Opinionhas anyone seen the video? the group is British-- perhaps this is a stretch-- but they are speaking Hindi in the beginning of the video and handing off instruments to the men, who are presumably Indian. It's hard for me to listen to this song and not see it as an anthem for the colonized and oppressed India during Britain's empire who were struggling for independence from Britain.
    tangledupinblueson February 23, 2010   Link

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