"Van Diemen's Land" as written by and Laurence Mullen Adam Clayton....
Hold me now,
Oh hold me now
'Til this hour
Has gone around
And I'm gone
On the rising tide
For to face
Van Diemen's land

It's a bitter pill
I swallow here
To be rent from one so dear
We fought for justice
And not for gain
But the magistrate
Sent me away

Now kings will rule
And the poor will toil
And tear their hands
As they tear the soil
But a day will come
In this dawning age
When an honest man
Sees an honest wage

Hold me now,
Oh hold me now
'Til this hour
Has gone around
And I'm gone
On the rising tide
For to face Van Diemen's land

Lyrics submitted by archmastermind

"Van Diemen's Land" as written by Dave Evans Adam Clayton

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Van Diemen's Land song meanings
Add your thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +2
    General CommentVan Diemen's land was the first not wholly inhospitable area of Australia that the convicts whose sentences were commuted to "transport" settled in. Read Morgan's Run by Colleen McCullough for an insight into this brutal period of Australian/UK history.
    ButtOfMalmseyon May 07, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentDidn't Edge write this one? I know he sings it. It's a good song.
    U2aholicon July 16, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Commentcheck this...


    by: John Boyle O'Reilly (1844-1890)

    HE faithful helm commands the keel,
    From port to port fair breezes blow;
    But the ship must sail the convex sea,
    Nor may she straighter go.

    So, man to man; in fair accord,
    On thought and will the winds may wait;
    But the world will bend the passing word,
    Though its shortest course be straight.

    From soul to soul the shortest line
    At best will bended be:
    The ship that holds the straightest course
    Still sails the convex sea.

    BizarreAppuon October 07, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyes edge did write this one. its my favorite song if you can tell^^
    van_diemenon July 28, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOk, so now, first off, I would like to applaud Mr. The Edge for writing such a cool song. I love the guitar in it.

    And I think, this song was written about an Irish poet who was exiled to Tasmania(or Van Dieman's Land) because he spoke out against the British government.
    U2aholicon July 28, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAs much as I love Bono's voice...I think Edge should do main vocals in a few more songs, I love his voice!
    U2babeon September 03, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentVan Diemen's Land.
    Present Day Tasmania. Song about a man who spoke out against the government, rallied for proper wages and justice. Probably got arrested for inciting to rebellion or something like that.
    The English liked to send their criminals to Australia, especially to Van Diemen's Land, as there was a Penal Colony at Port Arthur.

    The Edge wrote and sings this song, and it's amazing. I love the melancholy of it, but also the hope inherent in this line
    "But a day will come in this dawning age
    When an honest man sees an honest wage "
    It's almost saying "i'm going, but the fight will keep on"
    Arianrhodon September 13, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's a great song.According to "Rattle & Hum"'s booklet it is "Dedicated to John Boyle O'Reilly.A Fenian poet deported from Ireland to Australia because of his poetry.(it wasn't very good...)"
    Lyraon April 15, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBasically a song about social injustics; about a man probably morally coerced into a life of crime or theft to survive and either for himself or his family. Thus he is "sent away" to van Diemens Land- a place established for those who broke British criminal rule.In those days laws were strict and when they brought someone down,it was usually the masses in extreme poverty the reasons being a mixture of political and social beliefs that had been continually upheld by the British,stationed in Ireland for 600 years. This song exemplifies the sentiment of multiple Irish generations,particularly those who came before the great famine of the 1840's,mainly in the 18th century- who were plundered by those "kings" who will continue to "rule" over the "poor" who will continue to "toil". The idea of revolution rebellion- this man and his comrades "fought for justice and not for gain"- probably an attempt of reclaiming food and land that was rightfully theirs.Remeber- at this peiod of immense poverty throughout Ireland,the British were exporting more food than importing it. And so,this man years for his loved one to hold him one last time as he faces the "rising tide" towards the dreaded Van Diemen's Land.
    sexysadieon January 29, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe Edge did NOT write this song, it's a Trad. song from way back.
    simonjon September 12, 2005   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top