Is it a kind of a dream
Floating out on the tide
Following the river of death downstream
Oh, is it a dream?
There's a fog along the horizon
A strange glow in the sky
And nobody seems to know where it goes
And what does it mean?
Oh, is it a dream?

Bright eyes, burning like fire
Bright eyes, how can you close and fail?
How can the light that burned so brightly
Suddenly burn so pale?
Bright eyes

Is it a kind of a shadow
Reaching into the night
Wandering over the hills unseen
Or is it a dream?
There's a high wind in the trees
A cold sound in the air
And nobody ever knows when you go
And where do you start?
Oh, into the dark

Bright eyes, burning like fire
Bright eyes, how can you close and fail?
How can the light that burned so brightly
Suddenly burn so pale?
Bright eyes

Bright eyes, burning like fire
Bright eyes, how can you close and fail?
How can the light that burned so brightly
Suddenly burn so pale?
Bright eyes

Lyrics submitted by tjordaan, edited by lobo81865

Bright Eyes Lyrics as written by Mike Batt

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Bright Eyes song meanings
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  • +8
    General CommentSpeaking from personal experience, as someone who is having to watch his loved one 'slip away downstream', I think this is one of the best ever songs about death. My wife is so close; her bright eyes, normally so full of life and love, normally glowing with vitality and enjoyment, are now hollow, grey and vacant.
    I have watched, heartbroken, as she has declined gradually over the last 6 months. Her determination has waned, depression has set in and I know that one day soon her bright eyes will burn no longer.
    When does it start? Maybe death creeps up on us, ever so gradually, every time we fear it so much that it takes away from our appreciation of life.
    When I look at the sadness in my wife's eyes, and no doubt in my own eyes watching her, I see fear - surely far more fear of what may or may not happen when she 'floats out on the tide' than what she will ever feel when it actually does happen.
    Death is a return to peace and we all know it, but it's not really the fear of death that we are afraid of; it's the attachment to life. It's so hard to let go, especially when most of us spend our whole lives in a mental struggle for survival, always trying to build more we can ever hope to cheat death and live forever! The harder we try to survive and improve our lives, the more we underline and reaffirm our own subconscious fear of death, which in the end always catches up with us on our death beds.
    If you want my advice, spend as much time as you can contemplating your own death (like the Tibetan Buddhists do). It's not morbid, it's liberating; only the soul that is at one with death can truly appreciate life without being held back by fear.
    This song is one of the best ways of beginning that journey. If you listen to it and feel a tightness in your chest, like a star inside trying to burn its way out of you...if you weep with sadness at the absurdity and unfairness of life and the futility of it all...if this song moves you to the very core of your being and you yearn to release your passion, yet at the same time you can't stop yourself pressing the repeat button and playing it over and over again... If you have ever loved somebody more than you even love yourself, and more than life itself... ??? If that is you, take a deep breath my friend. You are the type who will feel your loved one all around you, within and without you, for the rest of your life. Ever present. In the morning mist and the cool evening breeze, in the winter frost and the autumn leaves.
    What happens when we die? Where do we go? We go NOWHERE - NOW + HERE - turning and returning to the passive energy of BEING, the background presence that infuses life with its passion - our passion. And if you are the kind of person that is sensitive to that then you are fortunate that you are able to release some of those feelings now, while you are still alive and conscious.
    Thank you Watership Down. Thank you Mike Batt and Art Garfunkel. And thank YOU for allowing their expressions to reflect within the mirror of your own soul and in so doing allow life and death to become a little more conscious of each other.
    jossgardneron July 25, 2011   Link
  • +4
    General CommentThis is a truly brilliant song, haunting yet beautiful. Only the soundtrack version as heard in the film moves me to tears. The interspersion of the lyrics with the melancholy orchestral score gets me every time.

    What annoys me is that so many people think that Art Garfunkel actually wrote it himself. Mike Batt wrote this song specifically for the ‘Fiver Beyond’ scene in Watership Down. We see in this scene that Hazel is not dead, only wounded. The Black Rabbit is leading Fiver through an almost dreamlike journey to find Hazel. We essentially get a glimpse through Fiver’s eyes as we realize how psychedelic and frightening his visions really are. Fiver struggles to make sense of them, but in the end he follows his feelings and usually ends up being right. We also see Hazels burning red eyes becoming ‘pale’, though we know he is not dead yet!

    The song itself is about mortality, change, death, and many different concepts that prey on us mortal animals in our search to make sense of our lives and the world around us. The underlying theme is that of life being a journey. We don’t know where it will take us, but we know it must come to an end sometime. We essentially fear and muse on the darkness that lies beyond our destination. This is echoed within this scene, but also in the film’s end scene. We get a much deeper perspective of the lyrics when we see the elderly Hazel in his prospering warren. His bright youthful eyes have become pale and weak. He has come to the end of his journey and darkness is upon him, i.e. the black rabbit of death. We see that Hazels continuing journey in the afterlife will be ok, yet he still worries for what he will be leaving behind, only to be reassured by the spectre before him. Let’s hope we can all hope for such a good ending.
    All in all, a classic ‘sad’ song for a truly classic animated film.
    Leypathon January 30, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe song is partially, I believe, about myxomatosis, a viral disease which causes conjunctivitis in rabbits. The chorus,
    Bright eyes,
    Burning like fire.
    Bright eyes,
    How can you close and fail?
    How can the light that burned so brightly
    Suddenly burn so pale?
    Bright eyes

    Is a reference to one of the earliest symptoms of the disease, runny and swollen eyes, progressing to lumps around the head and ears, and eventually causing death. It is referred to in Watership Down as the "white blindness". "How can you close and fade" is a reference to a later symptom, when the conjunctivitis has become so severe that the eyes are swollen shut.

    It's a nasty concept, but then, some of the best songs out there are built on nasty concepts :p
    hatrickpatrickon September 29, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think this song is about the sunset...and then sunrise.. but also about death. About life. I think, like the film, it has many undertones and underlying meanings. Put i defintely think the bright eyes are the sun rise.
    nobodyknowson January 28, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI can't see where people are getting myxamatosis from. The disease was mentioned in the book, though I don't believe it was mentioned in the movie and certainly I don't remember any of the rabbits dying from it. Since this song was written specifically for the movie, its safe to assume it is pertaining to what happens in the movie.

    And none of the rabbits get myxmatosis in the movie.

    I think its pretty simple, actually. This was played when Fiver thought hazel was dying. Its about Hazel dying, thats really all there is to it. 'how can the light that burned so brightly suddenly burn so pale' means how can one so spirited and alive suddenly be so close to death.
    People are taking the lyrics far far too literally with these myxamatosis ideas.
    The whole song is just about one being alive and full of spirit and then suddenly not being so anymore.
    Its Fivers thoughts, and you have to remember he is a rabbit. The beauty of watership down is that the characters are written like real rabbits, not little humans, so there is a lot they do not understand and everything is very simple and basic.
    To write a song full of humanesque metaphors would not be in keeping with the story.
    So the lyrics to this are quite 'childish' in a way, like a child wondering about these things, since essentially, thats how these animals are.

    I just strongly disagree with the myxamatosis thing. If that had been what hazel had died of, then sure. But other than being about rabbits, there is no connection to the disease in this book or movie at all.
    SicPuppyon July 19, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentUpon first hearing this song I believed it was about experience of a nuclear blast, though ti may be about death.

    My belief is that it is about both. And the almost surreal tranquillity of it all.
    IronicLiberalon May 13, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is incredible. I can't believe no one has commented! Although performed by Art Garfunkel, this song was written by Mike Batt. It was the theme song for the animated movie 'Watership Down', which was adapted from a book by the same title. (The author's name has slipped from my memory..) When I was still living in the UK, Watership Down (the place; the setting of the book/film) was just a few minutes from where we lived. This song reminds me of very early childhood memories. It was also one of the first songs I learnt on flute, then a few later on piano, then just recently, on guitar.

    I love this song.
    emaltiaon May 03, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeah. Great song. Great movie. Great book. There's really not much you can say about songs like this. When I was little I used to cry at the part of the movie when they played this song.
    Kaguthon January 06, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song so much. It just can't compare to any other song, its just got so much meaning to it and it is so much more deep than any other song I can thing of.
    Leanne63on March 11, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a good song but nobody has yet to say what the song actually means to him or her.

    As the theme song of "Watership Down" (an animated film about rabbits looking for a new home after being driven away by men), it is played during the death of a main character. The spirit of the "Black Rabbit" is coming to take him to a kind of heaven, I believe. I think that's why the lyrics say "following the river of death." I also wonder if that "kind of shadow" is a reference to the Black Rabbit who appears only when a rabbit is about to die.

    It's a very beautiful song. One of Art Garfunkel's favorites. This is my favorite song of them all. I fell in love with it the first time I heard it.
    GloriousDayon May 19, 2005   Link

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