"The Last Living Rose" as written by and Polly / Harvey....
Goddamn Europeans!
Take me back to beautiful England
And the grey, damp filthiness of ages,
And battered books and
Fog rolling down behind the mountains,
On the graveyards, and dead sea-captains.

Let me walk through the stinking alleys
To the music of drunken beatings,
Past the Thames River, glistening like gold
Hastily sold for nothing.

Let me watch night fall on the river,
The moon rise up and turn to silver,
The sky move,
The ocean shimmer,
The hedge shake,
The last living rose, quiver.

Ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah


Lyrics submitted by stentorian

"The Last Living Rose" as written by Polly / Harvey

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

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The Last Living Rose song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentThe Rose in the song title is an allusion to Englishness (i.e. an English Rose, the national flower of England), which appears to be the general theme of this piece. The use of 'Europeans' avoids offence by being used ironically (England is of course in Europe) and deliberately non-specific. There is also use of irony in the context of the description of 'beautiful England' being juxtaposed with lines alluding to the grey damp climate and past glories (e.g. 'flithiness of ages','battered books', 'dead sea captains'). Lyrically, the scene moves on to London (the capital city of England), where a Hogarthian picture of drunkenness is painted ('stinking alleys','drunken beatings'). This is matched with the lines 'Past the Thames River, glistening like gold, Hastily sold for nothing', perhaps an allusion to the City of London and the banking crisis (the Bank of England holds the UK's gold reserves). The Thames River may be used in this context to imply 2 sorts of bank - a riverbank and a bank holding gold. Silver in the last verse is a play on the use of the word gold in the previous verse. The subject matter of the final verse appears to represent the simple glories of nature and suggests that they are dying out ('the last living rose'), perhaps because we hold them to be of less value (silver) than that of economic wealth (gold).
    cantabrigianon November 05, 2011   Link
  • +2
    My Interpretation"past the Thames River, glistening like gold
    hastily sold for nothing."

    Is this about Gordon Brown selling off our gold reserves for f all?
    orangebeakeron May 29, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commenttake me back to beautiful England. such an ironic song. i love the dreamy '60s feel.
    rougarouon January 11, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment<3 ...one small correction in the first verse ("and battered books" is missing):
    Goddamn' Europeans!
    Take me back to beautiful England,
    And the grey, damp filthiness of ages, and battered books,
    And fog rolling down behind the mountains,
    And on the graveyards, and dead sea-captains.
    miaerbuson February 06, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is a great song to introduce the rest of the album - how you miss even the bad things when you don't have them anymore is a great point and I think a lot of soldiers felt that void when they were sent away.
    Human-beefon July 19, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentShe really conveys well the mixed feelings your can have about your homeland. Especially when seen from the perspective an an Other in a different culture. very patriotic yet very critical.
    sashand1on March 05, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwhat does she mean the thames river was hastily sold for nothing?
    yurigon May 18, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwhat does she mean the thames river was hastily sold for nothing?
    yurigon May 18, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commentand does anyone know what "the last living rose" is in reference to?
    yurigon May 18, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it's about how you can be incredibly fond of England even whyen you're supposed to be European citizens of the world. Screw Brussels, take me back to beautiful England!
    Supremacyon September 10, 2011   Link

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