I'm holding on to the hope that one day this could be made right
I've been shipwrecked and left for dead, and I have seen the darkest sights
Everyone I've loved seems like a stranger in the night
But oh my heart still burns, tells me to return, and search the fading light

I'm sailing home to you I won't be long
By the light of moon I will press on
Until I find my love

Trouble has beset my ways and wicked winds have blown
Sirens call my name; they say they'll ease my pain
then break me on the stones
But true love is the burden that will carry me back home
Carry me with the memories of the beauty I have known

I'm sailing home to you; I won't be long
By the light of moon I will press on

So tie me to the mast of this old ship and point me home
Before I lose the one I love, before my chance is gone
I want to hold her in my arms


Lyrics submitted by starsie, edited by Jenn117

Ulysses song meanings
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10 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentThis is a fabulous song. It's one of my favorites on the album. Many of Josh's songs on this album speak of a longing for the resurrection of all things. He's always looking forward to something better, and I think he most often sees the truth that this more difficult phase of the journey is worth the glory that awaits.

    But in this song I see something a bit different. Josh is a master with metaphor and seamlessly incorporates history and literature into his songs in a fascinating way. Sea and water imagery especially run throughout the album. This song, unlike some of his others, feels old and weary. Even some of the lyrics hint at that. The impression I'm getting is a guy who is feeling weighed down by the burdens of this life but has a determination (not entirely by his own strength) to make it through. But he shows this by using a metaphor of getting home to a person.

    This seems to come to a head with his usage of the myth of the sirens. Greek poets wrote of bird-women whose song was so irresistible that the sailors on passing ships couldn't resist sailing towards the sound of their voices only to have their boats dashed on the edges of the rocky cliffs where the sirens lived. In the Odyssey, Odysseus wants to hear the sound of their voices but knowing the danger, he makes his crew stop their ears with beeswax and bind him to the mast. Directing them not to untie him no matter what he did or said, they passed by the cliffs safely achieving what was thought to be impossible.

    It's a really powerful metaphor that fits with the theme and feel of the song and serves to illustrate the desperate difficulty of the situation. It also fits with the idea that the song is referring to a person because Odysseus was trying to get home to his wife who assumes he has died in the Trojan war.

    All in all, it's a powerful and beautiful song that seems to include multiple themes and topics.
    itslittlejohnon August 18, 2011   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningIt's a musical rendition of the journey of Odysseus (from Homer's The Odyssey). Ulysses is the latinized version of Odysseus' name.

    jallenwon September 11, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is written much like a psalm, using the story of Ulysses' journey as a metaphor for Christ's struggles and his longing for his bride (the church). He is the bridegroom who longs to return and hold her in his arms.
    calculusdorkon June 26, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI like this song, however I'm not positive what Josh speaking of in it. I thought I had a good idea until I reached the "her" at the end? Prior that pronoun, it sounds like bearing through all the disappointments, griefs, and failures along our Christian journey, and the growing desire to with Christ as last - who will NOT disappoint or fail us. But the "her" throws me off? Someone else please enlighten me. Thanks.
    cdm369on August 18, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commentitslittlejohn and jallenw have it right. I thought this was about Odysseus, but the song's name was Ulysses. I asked my sister who has read Homer, "Who was Ulysses?" She said it was the character in the Odyssey who was trying to get home to his wife. I said "I thought his name was Odysseus." Then she was like, "Now your confusing me. I don't know who it is."

    All this to say, thanks to Jallenw for clearing it up for me. Anyhow, the song is about this character in the Odyssey. I believe Josh identifies and sympathizes with this character because the Christina life has similarities to this story. In the context of this album, I think Josh is using the story of the Odyssey as a metaphor for the Christian life. But I definitely understand your confusion cdm369. I was having the exact same thoughts as you were.
    TwiceBornon September 12, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"So tie me to the mast of this old ship and point me home
    Before I lose the one I love, before my chance is gone."

    I've just started listening to this album, and am at the point where I can't really remember which song is which yet. I was listening to this song, left my iPod mid-song, came back later, and was like "oh, I think that this is one of the songs I like less. Maybe I should skip the rest." But I didn't skip it. And as soon as I pressed play, those lines started, and it was so beautiful. I love it.
    icesk8ngurlon February 18, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's a song about the Christian journey
    It's a song about the Odyssey
    It's a love song

    It's all of these things, because music can have multiple meanings like that. God put a little bit of the story of eternity in the story of a love between two people so we can understand His heart toward us. Josh captures that aspect nicely. Wonderful, isn't it?
    rocknrollgirl47on August 06, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentUlysses is the Roman name for Odysseus. This song IS the story of Odysseus. It's a beautiful love song about his struggle to return home to his wife Penelope. Josh Garrels writes Christian music, as well as songs like this one. No one does a love song like he does. When he says "I want to hold her in my arms." He is referring to Penelope. The whole song is written through the eyes of Ulysses/Odysseus. If you've never read the book, you should. It's a classic.
    c-annieon August 27, 2012   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI just watched Josh Garrels film The Sea In Between and am still in an afterglow-like state. It's a documentary accounting this sort of vacation trip to an island in the northwest US and just follows them throughout a week or so as they perform on the beautiful Washington coast outdoors and record it.

    Anyways, Josh tells some of his history and the story of how his marriage came to be and the struggles it had and from his account I can see that he is tying in several bits of subject matter and weaving a beautiful picture.

    In the movie, he speaks of the time when he was twenty years old and how he met his wife and felt love for the first time and the fear he felt from that experience. He ended up breaking it off right before either engagement or marriage (forget which one) and they went their separate ways for years. He spends this time in a pang of regret and faces the possibility of never truly loving someone like that again as his wife became engaged to someone. But he would have these dreams; very specific dreams that would show his wifes wedding getting called off and them getting back together and they stirred a faith inside of him to look toward that future. He doesn't really explain the last part of their story unfortunately, but you can assume that, literally, his dreams came true.

    So with this in mind, I believe this song is an intricate weaving of symbolism and literature that refers to the journey back to his wife and also exemplifies the spirit of faith and hope and looking toward something good that is not certain.

    You can watch the film here, its four bucks to rent but definitely worth it.
    theseainbetween.com/

    Well that's that y'all. Art is not dead!
    ambiigcomon May 11, 2014   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationFor me, this song is about someone in a happy relationship, but can't help but look at and wonder about others and feels incredibly guilty for it.
    They know nothing good will come of it. They hope someday it'll stop happening. People have come and gone and there's a possibility that person will be another one, but they're still holding on to their relationship, even though it has faded since they've been together, in hopes it will light up again.
    "Wicked winds I've blown" is great. The person has tried opening to others hoping someone will understand and tell them its okay, but instead they were made out to be a wicked person for saying or thinking such thoughts. There are others out there, who could make them happy, but the person knows it'll only end in disaster and not the fantasy in their mind.
    True love is wonderful, but they are tied down because of it. Yet the memories of what it used to be pulls them towards the person they are with. They're on a leash going with, but looking back over their shoulder.
    The person is determined to not be another failed relationship, and to not let that completely burn out.
    jill113on October 21, 2015   Link

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