"I Was An Eagle" as written by and Laura Beatrice Marling....
So your grandmother sounds to me
A woman I would be proud to be
And you say she reminds you of me
Every little boy is so naive, oh

I will not be a victim of romance
I will not be a victim of circumstance
Chance or circumstance or romance, or any man
Who could get his dirty little hands on me

So your grandfather sounds like me
Head up, shoulders back and proud to be
Every little girl is so naive
Falling in love with the first man that she sees

I will not be a victim of romance
I will not be a victim of circumstance
Chance or circumstance or romance, or any man
Who could get his dirty little hands on me

When we were in love, if we were
When we were in love
I was an eagle
And you were a dove

Today I will feel something other than regret
Pass me a glass and a half-smoked cigarette
I've damn near got no dignity left
I've damn near got no dignity left, oh

I will not be a victim of romance
I will not be a victim of circumstance
Chance or circumstance or romance, or any man
Who could get his dirty little hands on me

When we were in love, if we were
When we were in love
I was an eagle
And you were a dove

When we were in love, if we were
When we were in love
You were a dove
And I rose above you and preyed


Lyrics submitted by waywardgirl, edited by Paronomasia, twoplanets

"I Was an Eagle" as written by Laura Beatrice Marling

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I Was An Eagle song meanings
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  • +1
    My InterpretationI think that "I Was An Eagle" is a very complex song that clearly sets the whole theme and ambiance of Laura Marling's 4th album, whose title makes a very direct link with this song ("Once I Was An Eagle").

    The idea behind the album is that Laura, or the narrator, no longer is how she (or he) used to be, that is, naive and believing in romance, but has grown into a more mature character, who is able to face the truth and difficulties of love and life itself.

    This idea is very clearly shown in the lyrics, with the speaker stating that "every little boy is so naive" and that "every little girl is so naive / falling in love with the first man she sees." Readers should stop here to note that it is only the *little* girls and boys who fall in love without thinking - more mature persons do not, as Laura Marling goes on and sings that she "will not be a victim of romance / [she] will not be a victim of circumstance / ... or any man who could get his dirty little hands on [her]." Love, at this stage, is not so much a social necessity, but something that has to be earned and that is to happen only when it is the right time for it.

    Further evidence about this can be found in the lyrics. I am not 100% sure about it, but I'd say that at the beginning of the song the narrator is in a relationship with someone she does not feel very strongly for. The song starts with a kind of nice and charming image of a couple that reflects about their family, finding links between them and the latter: the grandmother reminds the lover of the narrator, and the narrator finds herself in the image of the grandfather. However, both statements are contrasted by the sentences defining younger people as "so naive," thus meaning that there is something wrong behind all this. Moreover, the narrator says that she "will feel something other than regret," that she will make the right decision and maybe move on, since she has arrived to the point where she "[has] damn near got no dignity left."

    The central image of the song, the dove and the eagle, is also very interesting and noteworthy. It is a common image in love poetry, the dove usually representing the woman with all its (and her) docility and sweetness, while the rough and powerful eagle stands for the man. Examples of this use can be found throughout literature, but there is one that I think is particularly interesting to analyse Marling's "I Was An Eagle." Metaphysical English poet John Donne, living and writing in the 15th-16th centuries, has written a poem entitled "The Canonization" where he rejects usual and excessive romance whilst praising the love that he and his lover have. The poem includes the following stanza:

    "Call us what you will, we are made such by love;
    Call her one, me another fly,
    We are tapers too, and at our own cost die,
    And we in us find the eagle and the dove,
    The phoenix riddle hath more wit
    By us; we two being one, are it."

    John Donne presents a love that is complete in itself. Regarding the imagery noted beforehand, the narrator and his lover are "the eagle and the dove": they cannot be separated, which shows a very strong and intense relationship. These considerations, when applied to the lyrics of this song, allow us to make two comments on the song's narrator: first of all, she inverses gendered roles, with her being the eagle and her lover the mere dove, and, most importantly, this song denotes a completely different relationship, where both parts are severed, with the speaker being an eagle who "[rises] above [her lover] and prey[s him]." This love therefore is completely unusual, and can scarcely be described as such, as the lyrics make very clear ("when we were in love / *if* we were").

    I love this song, and I think it definitely is one of my favourites by Laura Marling. The song encompasses a number of emotions that are so hard to define: on the one hand, you clearly want to find love, but on the other one, life has taught you that you should not be so naive about it and think before acting. This consequently turns you into a peculiar character, who will prey everyone that wants to seduce you, and will eventually turn you into a "Master Hunter."
    twoplanetson March 30, 2014   Link
  • 0
    Lyric CorrectionSo your grandmother sounds to me
    A woman I would be proud to be
    And you say she reminds you of me
    Every little boy is so naive

    Oh, I wanna be a victim of romance
    I will not be a victim of circumstance
    Chances is circumstance and romancing any man
    A man who could get his dirty little hands on me
    Oh

    So your grandfather sounds like me
    Head up, shoulders back, proud to be
    Every little girl is so naive
    Falling in love with the first man they see


    Oh, I wanna be a victim of romance
    I will not be a victim of circumstance
    Chance is circumstance and romancing any man
    A man who could get his dirty little hands on me
    Oh, oh

    When we were in love (if we were)
    When we were in love
    I was an eagle
    And you were a dove

    Today I will feel something other than regret
    Pass me a glass and a half-smoked cigarette
    I've damned near got no dignity left
    I've damned near got no dignity left

    Oh, I wanna be a victim of romance
    I will not be a victim of circumstance
    Chance is circumstance and romancing any man
    A man who could get his dirty little hands on me
    Oh, oh

    When we were in love (if we were)
    When we were in love
    You were a dove
    And I rose above you and wept

    When we were in love (if we were)
    When we were in love
    I was an eagle
    And you were a dove
    ifyouwishtoon December 26, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHere's link to the song, it hasn't got a title yet but I Was An Eagle seems fitting

    youtube.com/…
    ScottishFictionon October 23, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think that the eagle-dove metaphor could refer to the idea that the narrator is viewing her relationship from above. She views romance as a delusion that she can't fully participate in since she is busy analyzing it. The last line of the song provides a great double meaning: she is "preying" on this man (i.e. seducing) but also praying for herself since she understands that she is setting herself up to get hurt.
    bkdrilleron March 18, 2014   Link

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