"Colouring Of Pigeons" as written by Karin Elizabeth Dreijer Andersson, Olof Bjorn Dreijer and Matthew Sims....
Northern forms existed in their own homes
Thousand yellow cocoons
Under over through
A few southern vegetable forms
On the mountains of Borneo
Under over through
Donkey peacock goose
In the mouth of the river
A strange scene it is
Everything in flames
The sky with lightning
And the water, luminous
A strange scene it is
Under over through

Six weeks old
Henrietta smiled for the first time
Tail habits proof
Instinct that moves
Emma saw him smile
Not only with lips
But eyes
Erasmus grab a spoon
Europe hides wool
Mr. Peacock and Captain Beaufort
Endemic alpine grooves
Bread-fruit cinnamon tunes
Tonight it's blowing
Thick bodies of spray whirled across the bay
Whatever might have been
The cause of the retreat

Columbia livia
Great ages through
Course of days
Tumblers, Jacobins
Beak shapes, skeletal traits
Runts and Carriers
Wooden hexagonal cage
Pouters and Fantails
Tail feathers at what age?
(The delight of once again being home)
Grey and white spotted
(The delight of once again being home)
Markings in making
(The delight of once again being home)
My great amusement
Behind Land house a gentle cooing
Behind Land house the offspring's moving
Behind Land house a gentle cooing

The delight of once again being home
The delight of once again being home
The delight of once again being home
The delight of once again being home
The delight of once again being home
The delight of once again being home


Lyrics submitted by qbo

Colouring Of Pigeons song meanings
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8 Comments

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  • +4
    Song MeaningI'm not going to explicate too much, but I wanted to point out some basics. The song references many of Darwin's writings about his voyage on the HMS Beagle, his letters aboard the ship, and journal entries.

    The lyrics of this song are really quite impressive if only because of their sheer specificity and scale. Few of them are actually canonical. Some are from the Beagle, some are letters to Henslow and Hooker. For example, the line "Europe hides wool" is from a letter to Hooker discussing the possible advantage of northern forms of vegetation over southern forms.

    Sadly my Darwin history is lacking a bit as it's been years since I've read "The Origin...", his Beagle travels, and his letters. However, I know that the "everything in flames" part describes his fascination at seeing an erupting volcano, and the "thick bodies of spray..." was his description of the waters as he sailed near the Good Success Bay in Tierra del Fuego. The oddly specific sentiments are innumerable, and I love them.

    But, the most important thing to note is the title. The colouring of pigeons refers to Darwin's work as a pigeon fancier. Darwin spends a bit of parchment in the first chapter of "The Origin..." discussing his observations about the colouring of pigeons, their skeletal structures, and their feathers. He notes that most naturalists agree that pigeons were descended from Rock Pigeons, or Columbia Livia. Tumblers, Jacobins, Runts, Carriers, Pouters, and Fan Tails are all species of pigeons. He kept them in a hexagonal hut on his estate--the cooing no doubt refers to the sounds emanating from this enclosure.

    Someone noted above that Erasmus was his grandfather, but Erasmus was also the name of his brother. Erasmus was a playboy and lived off inheritance. He and Darwin were fairly close, and it is through him that he met Henslow, if I'm not mistaken. Without Henslow's publishing Darwin's letters to newspapers, we might never have had his work at all. At any rate, I think the Erasmus in the song is Erasmus Darwin, their grandfather. He was a physician, and he wrote a book called Zoonomia. In it, he discusses, quite frequently, how many spoonfuls of medicines and herbal tinctures he gave his patients.

    The final thing I will note is Peacock and Beaufort. I'll preface it a bit: the captain of the HMS Beagle, Captain Robert FitzRoy, sought an intelligent, naturalist gentleman to keep in company on his voyage to chart South Africa (and civilize Fuegians). FitzRoy was worried that he would kill himself if he didn't have company because suicidal tendencies ran in his family (and the captain before him shot himself aboard the ship). Thus, FitzRoy told Francis Beaufort to assist him in his search. Beaufort then contacted Professor Peacock at Cambridge, who then consulted Professor Henslow, who then suggested Charles Darwin.

    That's all I'll note for tonight. Considerable time would need to be spent in order to reference each line.

    This is, by far, the best song on the album (Annie's Box is a close second).

    I hope my aimless rambling helped.
    Jeremandiason June 27, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentFantastic cant wait for the album.Obviously Darwin related, Henrrietta was on of his daughters and Emma Wedgwood was his cousin and wife.

    Here´s the missing part:


    Columbia livia
    Great ages through
    Course of days
    Tumblers, Jacobins
    Beak shapes, skeletal traits
    Runts and Carriers
    Wooden hexagonal cage
    Pouters and Fantails
    Tail feathers at what age?
    (The delight of once again being home)
    Grey and white spotted
    (The delight of once again being home)
    Markings in making
    (The delight of once again being home)
    My great amusement
    Behind Land house a gentle cooing
    Behind Land house the offspring's moving
    Behind Land house a gentle cooing

    The delight of once again being home
    The delight of once again being home
    The delight of once again being home
    The delight of once again being home
    The delight of once again being home
    The delight of once again being home
    emilykaneon January 12, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My Opinionlove this more than anything
    flanders062on February 07, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis is one of the most amazing things i think i've ever heard
    TrampVampon March 15, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm truly blown away by the sound and the meaning behind this song. The Knife are simply incredible.
    muckguppyon June 12, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWould like to know, what this song is about ( I know that The Knif use to be difficult)

    The lyrics says: "Erasmus grab a spoon"
    Erasmus was the name of Charles Darwins Granddad - Erasmus Darwin, which was a poet and physican
    baltzermedmon January 25, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is just a notion, I have to listen to the whole album before i can be sure, but i think this song is describing Darwins relief on returning home and seeing his relatives, notably his new born daughter Henrietta, the contrasting images between the violence of everything on fire and the ideas of skeletal traits being bleak shows Darwins relief at returning home, a relief expressed directly by the lines at the end of the song 'delight at once again being home'

    I also muse on the idea that the title 'colouring of pigeons' could be a reference to how Darwin, with his newfound understanding of evolution, saw animals which are mundane, like pigeons, in a newly interesting way, as the product of evolution, hence 'colouring of pigeons - making pigeons more interesting'

    these are all just speculations and i'll welcome anyone else with any thoughts on this, it is a beautiful song whatever the meaning.
    Jaronaon March 07, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIn the mouth of the river
    Strange - Scene - It is
    Every - Thing - In flames

    It may refer to flocking flamingoes.
    goliamonon May 05, 2012   Link

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