"Patterns" as written by and Paul Simon....
The night sets softly
With the hush of falling leaves
Casting shivering shadows
On the houses through the trees
And the light from a street lamp
Paints a pattern on my wall
Like the pieces of a puzzle
Or a child's uneven scrawl

Up a narrow flight of stairs
In a narrow little room
As I lie upon my bed
In the early evening gloom
Impaled on my wall
My eyes can dimly see
The pattern of my life
And the puzzle that is me

From the moment of my birth
To the instant of my death
There are patterns I must follow
Just as I must breathe each breath
Like a rat in a maze
The path before me lies
And the pattern never alters
Until the rat dies

And the pattern still remains
On the wall where darkness fell
And it's fitting that it should
For in darkness I must dwell
Like the color of my skin
Or the day that I grow old
My life is made of patterns
That can scarcely be controlled


Lyrics submitted by kevin

"Patterns" as written by Paul Simon

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Patterns song meanings
Add your thoughts

10 Comments

sort form View by:
  • 0
    General Commentawesome song, awesome lyrics, cant believe im thje first to comment on it!! i havnt understood the meaning yet. would apprecieate if someone could help......relaxing to me actually, the melody and the subtle back ground with the bongos or congos is sooo relaxing
    Sandman3987on January 07, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is one of my favorite S&G songs. Ive loved it forever. To there are two messages, the right out one, "Your life is planned and theres nothing you can to to stop, everything anyone does will happen" and a hidden one ...which I havnt completely figured out yet....I will soon though
    Soul wanderon January 21, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwow this is one of my favorites and i'm shocked that i'm the third to comment on it (then again a bunch of people wouldnt expect a person like me to listen to simon and garfunkel) but yeah this song hits me somewhere indise my psyche
    gojiguyver3on October 29, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI believe this song is about the life stages we all seem to follow…what is interesting is we all tend to go through these stages at approximately the same ages. As teenagers we long to find acceptance. In our early twenties, we long for love, but then in our late twenties we long for freedom, etc. So an elderly person’s life/psychology likely followed similar courses as our lives are or will.
    amaretto59on August 21, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentomg i have been a massive fan of S&G for ages, they truely move me in ways no other music does.

    i only just discoverd this song, but already it has a place in my heart forever, like Gojiguyver said, it hits my psyche as well, its just so mystic, i swear i was almost high listening to it the other night.

    i think its about fate and how we cannot change it until death takes us.
    stormspiriton January 24, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentp.s. it also reminds me of those rare times when it is dusk or dawn, and you are in a dream like state of mind, and you think of your life in a very different way. it is othen very very trippy :P in a gentle strange way.
    stormspiriton January 24, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentpersonally, it reminds me of mushrooms, because everything is patterns when your tripping, and that can make you think about how your life is a pattern like everything around you.
    mackintoshon November 15, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAnd the pattern still remains
    On the wall where darkness fell,
    And it's fitting that it should,
    For in darkness I must dwell.
    Like the color of my skin,
    Or the day that I grow old,
    My life is made of patterns
    That can scarcely be controlled.

    WHY. SO. GOOD? SO BRILLIANT.

    we're stuck in our habits, in our minds, in our flaws, we can't escape. and we go in cycles when we think we're moving forward, but really we just end up making the same errors we've made in our past, but in a slightly different way. these errors, these things we can't escape about ourselves are these patterns burned into the wall. "for in darkness i must dwell," we must learn to accept these inescapable truths about ourselves... as much as we want to escape the finite truths about ourselves and live in the infinite, we must rather create a sort of synthesis between the two and dwell in the darkness of the knowledge that we can never live in infinite bliss as much as we would like to.
    eating_for_youon February 18, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentExistentialism, pure and simple (not).

    Anyway, he's singing about free will, but not until the end of the song does he give any hope to self-destiny.
    dearhearton April 03, 2011   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationThe first four lines set the atmsophere of the song into place.

    "And the light from a street lamp
    Paints a pattern on my wall"
    The light basically means enlightenment, and since it is placed on top of a street lamp the speaker is unable to reach it. The wall represents his mental barrier. Without being able to get to that light, the speaker will never have a true understanding was his life actually is. We can infer that is what the pattern is.

    "Like the pieces of a puzzle
    Or a child's uneven scrawl"
    Without the proper mindset, a person could not figure both these things out.

    "Up a narrow flight of stairs
    In a narrow little room"
    The stairs are how the speaker is progressing though life. The room is what the speaker's life will turn to be. Notice how he uses the word "narrow" to describe both of these. This describes how human beings will never be truely free.

    "As I lie upon my bed
    In the early evening gloom"
    Still continuing through life without meaning/understanding. As for the second line, gloom is his mental state, because early evening is most certainly not supposed to be very dark, it is how he sees life.

    "Impaled on my wall
    My eyes can dimly see
    The pattern of my life
    And the puzzle that is me"
    These lines represent the phase of which the human notices an actual pattern controlling his life. However, he does not know how to overcome it. In other words, he knows it's somewhere, but he cannot find the truth of himself anywhere.

    "From the moment of my birth
    To the instant of my death
    There are patterns I must follow
    Just as I must breathe each breath"
    Throughout his whole existness, he has absolutely no choice but to follow these patterns. Aging is one major thing we can't control. We will forever keep getting older, still being forced to follow those patterns until we die.

    "Like a rat in a maze
    The path before me lies
    And the pattern never alters
    Until the rat dies"
    There is basically no difference between a rat in a maze and a human's life. Life is a labyrinthic maze of which there is no escape only until death. Death is the only significant change that occurs in life.

    "And the pattern still remains
    On the wall where darkness fell
    And it's fitting that it should
    For in darkness I must dwell
    Like the color of my skin
    Or the day that I grow old
    My life is made of patterns
    That can scarcely be controlled"
    The speaker is finally accepting no freedom, never able to unravel the truth about life and being forever controlled by a force which will never be seen.
    markthesharton December 20, 2015   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
explain