"Terrapin Station" as written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter....
Let my inspiration flow in token rhyme, suggesting rhythm,
That will not forsake you, till my tale is told and done.
While the firelight's aglow, strange shadows from the flames will grow,
Till things we've never seen will seem familiar.

Shadows of a sailor, forming winds both foul and fair all swarm.
Down in Carlisle, he loved a lady many years ago.
Here beside him stands a man, a soldier from the looks of him,
Who came through many fights, but lost at love.

While the story teller speaks, a door within the fire creaks,
Suddenly flies open, and a girl is standing there.
Eyes alight, with glowing hair, all that fancy paints as fair,
She takes her fan and throws it, in the lion's den.

Which of you to gain me, tell, will risk uncertain pains of hell?
I will not forgive you if you will not take the chance.
The sailor gave at least a try, the soldier being much too wise,
Strategy was his strength, and not disaster.

The sailor, coming out again, the lady fairly leapt at him.
That's how it stands today. you decide if he was wise.
The story teller makes no choice. soon you will not hear his voice.
His job is to shed light, and not to master.

Since the end is never told, we pay the teller off in gold,
In hopes he will return, but he cannot be bought or sold.

Terrapin station
Inspiration, move me brightly. light the song with sense and color;
Hold away despair, more than this I will not ask.
Faced with mysteries dark and vast, statements just seem vain at last.
Some rise, some fall, some climb, to get to terrapin.

Counting stars by candlelight, all are dim but one is bright;
The spiral light of Venus, rising first and shining best,
On, from the northwest corner, of a brand new crescent moon,
While crickets and cicadas sing, a rare and different tune,
Terrapin station.

In the shadow of the moon, terrapin station.
And I know we'll get there soon, terrapin station.
I can't figure out, terrapin, if it's the end or beginning, terrapin,
But the train's put it's brakes on, terrapin,
And the whistle is screaming, terrapin.

Terrapin station, at the siding
While you were gone, these faces filled with darkness.
The obvious was hidden. with nothing to believe in,

Sullen wings of fortune beat like rain.
You're back in terrapin for good or ill again, for good or ill again.

Lyrics submitted by itsmyownmind

"Terrapin Station" as written by Robert Hunter Jerry Garcia

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Terrapin Station song meanings
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  • +3
    General Commentfor a while, now, I always listen to this song and remember Robert Hunter's journal after the 9/11 where he says he was in New York and was sitting on the roof, 15 stores high that would face the world trade center and he started to sing terrapin station and while he sang it a strong wind blew around him and he felt like he was back to the days when he wrote it, and he kept repeating the line "hold away despair" over and over again.
    I always get to this part, now, with a tight knot in my throat.
    Robert Hunter's probably one of the best lyricists ever, for me.
    KitScotton December 24, 2007   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThis song was truely "inspired" from the start, written during a lightening storm at the same time Jerry came up with the tune.
    It is the archetypal story of the first part of the hero's quest. Because it is such an important story and the storyteller's responsibility to spin the tale correctly to create the alchemy, the magic, to convey the essential meaning, he begins with a prayer to the muses to tell the story well, filled with image and meaning, in order to bring life and purpose to the characters and make them real to us, so we can relate and find meaning in their universal story.
    The tale begins with the storyteller sitting around a fire as the winds whip the images he describes into form. Two figures appear. One is a sailor, a symbol of one that can navigate the waters of the unconscious. Just like the guy in Althea, or Simple Twist of Fate, this sailor had a chance at love and inspiration and didn't take it. He knows better now. The soldier stands next to him, too "wise" (aka "cautious") to take the chance to save the lady with the fan.
    The lady, of course, is the Anima. She showers the brave sailor with her gift of vision, purpose, and "inspiration". This sets him on his path to "terrapin station", the point of enlightenment, which all reach in their own way, on their own path, and in their own time. The Terrapin turtle is somewhat unique and can live on land and in water. Also, Venus has long been a symbol of the meeting point between heaven and earth, between the spiritual and profane.
    But then the hero discovers that Terrapin Station is not a stopping point, but a starting point, and there are endless cycles to enlightenment. However, at least his eyes are open and he is on the right path.
    trpnstn1on March 24, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthis is my favorite gd song. whenever i try to understand it i always feels like hes talkin about tripping. the song is like a long story, kinda like a strange experince of thoughts. TERRAPIN seems like code for TRIPPIN to me...
    peaceistheonlywayon April 12, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentreminds me of the story of ulysses for some reason

    deadhead44on March 08, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think this song is about a mushroom trip...the cycle of life.
    chillsyo56on July 22, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've heard that this is a fan favourite because many parts of the song are good descriptions of what the Grateful Dead experiance is all about.

    "The story teller makes no choice..." - a great thing about Robert Hunter's lyrics is that they don't dictate to you, they let you think and make up your own mind.

    "Inspiration, move me brightly..." This climax is so perfect... it's like a prayer to god for the inspiration for the performance to go well and not get tedious. The thing about the Dead's concerts is that they should all be unique, so it's so important for the jamming to be inspired rather than boring and unoriginal.
    x0nixon June 03, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentgood quizilla.com/users/PortSurfer/quizzes/What%20Grateful%20Dead%20song%20are%20you%3F/
    ****i got this song--see for urself
    sugarmagnoliaon November 21, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI honestly believe that this song was inspired by some higher power. It encompasses all the emotions and trials of life, good and evil. This is the greatest song ever written in my opinion. Each line deserves to be individually scrutinized and deciphered. It is a metaphor for life, love, loss, death, and everything in between.
    floppywoknoodleon May 28, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe Terrapin Station album and song is very underrated. I think this sixteen minute song is more better than people think it is.

    I love the beggining of the song. That's about my favorite part of Terrapin.
    Pink_Floyd_fanon April 14, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this is my favorite grateful dead song yet. It has very good arcoustic guitars playin' in the background. It's a wonderful song.

    I love the way the drum solo near the end of the song too. It has beautiful lyrics by Jerry Garcia too. If you haven't heard this song of Grateful Dead's yet, it's very good the whole song. I listen to the LP of it all the time.
    Pink_Floyd_fanon June 17, 2007   Link

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