"Elysium" as written by and Beth Gibbons Adrian Utley....
No one has said what the truth should be
And no one decided that I'd feel this way
If you felt as I
Would you betray yourself
But, you can't deny how I feel
And you can't decide for me
No one should fear what they cannot see
And no ones to blame it's just hypocrisy
It's written in your eyes
And how I despise myself
But, you can't deny how I feel
And you can't decide for me
And it's your heart
That's so wrong
Mistaken
You'll never know
Your feathered sacred self
But, you can't deny how I feel
And you can't decide for me
And you can't deny how I feel
And why should you decide for me


Lyrics submitted by Ice

"Elysium" as written by Beth Gibbons Adrian Francis Utley

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Elysium song meanings
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  • +3
    My InterpretationFirst of all, I completely love this song and it's on my top 3 Portishead list.

    According to Wikipedia, Elysium or the Elysian Fields (Ancient Greek: Ἠλύσιον πεδίον, Ēlýsion pedíon) is a conception of the afterlife that developed over time and was maintained by certain Greek religious and philosophical sects and cults.

    According to an article, which I currently do not remember the source of but will update this once I do, the song Elysium has a political base, where religion or in other words religious leaders trying to control our community.

    No one has said what the truth should be
    And no one decided that I'd feel this way
    If you felt as I
    Would you betray yourself

    "No one has said what the truth should be", as in no one should say what and what not to do.



    "And no one decided that I feel this way", as in the way I feel is completely my choice.

    "If you felt as I, would you betray yourself?", rather simple to understand, if you wouldn't be your usual close-minded self, you wouldn't deny what you truly feel.

    But, you can't deny how I feel
    And you can't decide for me

    I'll explain the chorus as a whole, there's no way that you can deny how someone feels because you can never know what they feel. You can't decide for anyone just because you call yourself a priest and do good.

    No one should fear what they cannot see
    And no ones to blame it's just hypocrisy
    It's written in your eyes
    And how I despise myself

    "No one should fear what they cannot see", rather straight forward indicating that religion is all a hoax since there is no proof of the existence of God and the heavens and hell.

    "And no one's to blame, it's just hypocrisy", religion all in all is hypocrisy created by people who want to take control and maintain leadership.

    "It's written in your eyes", it's rather obvious but somehow unnoticeable.

    "And how I despise myself", how I hate myself of why people still persist on falling for what religion has to say.

    And it's your heart
    That's so wrong
    Mistaken
    You'll never know
    Your feathered sacred self

    This part is my favourite since Beth decides to confront all the religious hypocrites in these few lines.

    "And it's your heart that's so wrong, mistaken", it's what you believe that's wrong and what you say is wrong and what you think is wrong. Beth meant it's you whose wrong and not us. Although "not us" is not mentioned in anyway in these lines it is perfectly portrayed by the addition of "and" at the beginning.

    "You'll never know", as in you'll never know how wrong you are since you'll block all incoming advice which is explained the reason of these actions in "Your feathered sacred self", Beth meant that religious authorities thought of themselves as angels hence feathered and holy hence sacred, which portrays them as full of pride.

    Hope that explains it well!
    YosufNabiehon January 31, 2015   Link
  • +2
    General CommentHow I despise myself.
    Wallamanageon April 07, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI generally morph songs into whatever trouble I'm having at the moment so...here goes:

    I see it from my own point of view, talking to myself (have I mentioned I'm a little self-centered at the moment? =P).

    I've been struggling with disordered eating patterns and a very fucked up sense of image since I was 13. It only really started to overwhelm and control my life two years ago, and now it won't go away.

    I can't see the good in me unless I've starved for 3 or 4 days. It's disgusting and selfish but I feel as if I've lost the will to even want to recover.

    "And no one decided that I'd feel this way
    If you felt as I
    Would you betray yourself?"

    There isn't anyone I can point to and say, "You! You put these feelings in me!" That's absurd. Nobody "decided" to give me this problem. Sure, I can go around saying it was my family's casual remarks about everybody's appearance and weight that seemed to enter into every conversation,
    or maybe it was the mass-media that drowned me into submission, gave me a complex about what I saw in the mirror, what others must see, and my role as a woman. But ultimately it's *my* voice inside my head, giving me orders.

    Often, when someone asks me why I do this to myself, why I would choose (because it is a choice, no matter how over-powering the compulsion feels) to deprive myself for days upon days only to gorge myself and start over, I ask them: would you do the same if your own mind convinced you it was the right thing? And they say no, because they haven't had to fight their own mind in that way, or they have enough willpower to fight back. Well, that's you. This is me.

    "But, you can't deny how I feel
    And you can't decide for me"

    It's become pointless to talk about this with anyone close to me. I understand and I don't hold it against them at all: but it's so fucking frustrating when all I want to do is vent, let go of my constant stream of bullshit thoughts for one second, and instead of listening, they always have an answer. They try to solve the problem, fix me, tell me everything that is wrong with what I'm doing and how I'm feeling. I can't be mad. They love me and they're trying to help...and for a while, I tried to stop, but until I try for *me* it won't ever stick. Most of our conversations go around in circles until they eventually end with "You don't want help. Why are you complaining when you're not making an effort to change? You aren't taking our advice, so why are you talking about it?" So I stopped talking about it.

    "No one should fear what they cannot see
    And no ones to blame it's just hypocrisy"

    Nobody should become a slave to an invisible affliction...I'm not saying mental disorders are in any way better or worse than a physical one, but there's something wrong with the way people deal with them. No one should have to live life in fear of the next time their brain fucks them over. The worst part is "no one's to blame." Like I said above, when you have a mental illness, you can't point fingers...someone will call you out on your shit. You can talk with your therapist all day about your shitty childhood or how your father left you or how your mother doesn't know how to be a mother. But at the end of the day, it's just you. And if for even one moment you attempt to point out some of the reasons why you might have this problem, just to help someone understand or to try to make sense of the situation? Most people will refuse to entertain you unless they are being paid to listen. It's your life, at some point you have to stop blaming the past...no matter how "hypocritical" it may seem to forgive or forget the mistakes of others.

    "It's written in your eyes
    And how I despise myself" - self-explanatory.

    "And it's your heart
    That's so wrong
    Mistaken
    You'll never know
    Your feathered sacred self"

    It's your very soul that's sick. You look in the mirror and if you aren't hit with waves of repulsion and disgust, you might feel a tiny bit of contentment if only you could fix *blank* or maybe erase *blank.* You kind of know that you're being stupid, that what people say must be true: you're not fat, you're not ugly, you're fine. If you're not beautiful, you must at least be average, right? And so for a little while you try to accept yourself. Maybe for a day. But it always comes back. It always follows you around. It's always there behind you, waiting to sour any compliment, to infect every glance on your walk home, to darken every morning you get ready to leave the house, to poison every meal.

    You can't see the beauty. You can logically understand that it's probably there, to some people, maybe, and that your way of thinking is extremely deluded. Of course, it doesn't matter, not really. Logic fades. Your heart is stronger, and your heart is sick.

    You'll never see the "you" that fucking matters. The person inside the body, under the skin, hidden in the shell you've hated for years and have worked so tirelessly to improve. Or has your aim been to destroy it all along? To finally get at what lies beneath? Because *that's* who really needs your attention. But you'll never see her at the rate you're going.

    Sorry. I got carried away. This probably sounds pretentious and overwrought as fuck but I couldn't stop and I had to release it somehow. I'll just write in my journal next time I listen to Portishead -.-
    Aquarius121on June 11, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI want to understand the line "Your feathered sacred self" but my feeling about the song as a whole is that she is leaving a relationship. It's time. He doesn't want her to go so she asks "if you felt as I, would you betray yourself" and stay? He can't make her love him anymore and he can't make her stay...that's just my feeling...I don't know.
    drietovenareson June 11, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentEnprisonment in a relationship... doyou not agree?
    CrowHearton September 06, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI just looked up "Elysium" in the dictionary...here's what it said: the abode of the blessed after death in classical mythology
    drietovenareson June 11, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentElysium is the place or condition of ideal happiness. Might help understand the song a bit better.
    xxxangelxxxon May 11, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment'Your feathered sacred self'

    Is she refering to an Angel maybe? LOL
    Maybe a reference to someone who probably puts faith into all the fake things in life as bringing their 'ideal' happiness and because her 'ideal' doesn't conform to this, the other person doesn't want to accept it. It could be about a relationship, but to me it could also be about life in general and how her Elysium is different to the majority of people or what people expect it should be. Just a thought.

    And it's your heart
    That's so wrong
    Mistaken
    You'll never know
    Your feathered sacred self

    Either way, excellent song by Beth.
    xxxangelxxxon May 11, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentElysium is also the supposed city where the angels live if you believe in all that mumbo jumbo
    SixStringSoulon January 17, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it's about someone who believes he's a great person (could be a friend or a partner). So, he tries to make decisions for this other person, based on whatever he thinks happiness is, his own "elysium". But this person doesn't notice that the other one has a different vision of happiness and life. So, in the end, this tired person says that it's him who is wrong.
    A Lady of Waron September 16, 2007   Link

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