"The Pearl" as written by and Emmylou Harris....
O the dragons are gonna fly tonight
They're circling low and inside tonight
It's another round in the losing fight
Out along the great divide tonight

We are aging soldiers in an ancient war
Seeking out some half remembered shore
We drink our fill and still we thirst for more
Asking if there's no heaven what is this hunger for?

Our path is worn our feet are poorly shod
We lift up our prayer against the odds
And fear the silence is the voice of God

And we cry Allelujah Allelujah
We cry Allelujah

Sorrow is constant and the joys are brief
The seasons come and bring no sweet relief
Time is a brutal but a careless thief
Who takes our lot but leaves behind the grief

It is the heart that kills us in the end
Just one more old broken bone that cannot mend
As it was now and ever shall be amen

And we cry Allelujah Allelujah
We cry Allelujah

So there'll be no guiding light for you and me
We are not sailors lost out on the sea
We were always headed toward eternity
Hoping for a glimpse of Gaililee

Like falling stars from the universe we are hurled
Down through the long loneliness of the world
Until we behold the pain become the pearl

Cryin´ Allelujah Allelujah
We cry Allelujah

And we cry Allelujah Allelujah
We cry Allelujah


Lyrics submitted by Bobo192

"The Pearl" as written by Emmylou Harris

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

The Pearl song meanings
Add your thoughts

3 Comments

sort form View by:
  • 0
    General CommentNo comments here?! How can that be?! It can be read to be about crusaders and the seemingly endless fighting and how weary they are and how abandoned they seem.
    Or, if we take "Oh the dragons are going to fly tonight" with "the dragons" being a reference to heroin "ride the dragon" then it's about heroin addicts and how alienated they are from the world and society in general. Read the lyrics both ways and you might see this as one of the most dual natured songs ever written. Brilliant.
    dolfanon December 23, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSurely there are some Emmylou fans out there. This is probably my fave song of her extensive catalog. In Wrecking Ball and Red Dirt Girl she's done something that very few artists achieve: she's essentially invented a unique genre that, for want of a better term, could be called "alternative country" (yeah I know that sucks. We need a better term.) The line "And fear the silence is the voice of God" gives me chills every time I hear it, and I think the meaning of the song can be summed up in the final line of the last verse: Until we behold the pain become the pearl". The Buddha said that "life is suffering". Emmylou is saying that our task is to somehow transform that suffering into something of beauty. And yes, dolfan, it IS brilliant.
    crazymanmichaelon July 19, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOh, this song gets me. The Pearl is one of my favorite songs of despair and sorrow. I don't think Emmylou wrote it about the Crusades or heroin addiction. I think that's taking a one-dimensional, literal interpretation about a set of metaphors that are much more expressive about the condition of our hearts. As she says, "It is the heart that kills us in the end." I think it’s fundamentally a song about you. And I. It’s a broken-hearted song about life and hopelessness. Straight-up.

    It’s about that feeling you get that things are only going to get worse. It’s about the eternal separation between the perfect creator and the despairing creation. It’s about your struggle against all the weariness of this life, all the pointlessness you feel when you look at how far you’ve walked. It’s about never being able to find happiness, no matter how much you have. It’s about being neglected and alone, finding that even God has abandoned or forgotten you. It’s about the desperate cry clinging to any last crumb of hope. It’s about the relentlessness of age and time. It’s about our weaknesses. It’s about the empty resignation that comes at the end. It’s loss and fear, shame and anger, tears and ache.

    And yet, she asks if maybe the pain produces something good.

    Emmylou said this about it: “I think this lyric is dealing with depression and angst and mortality. But I know that the place the song was going to get to was that there has to be a reason for the pain that everyone experiences. And I was so taken with the image of the pain that the oyster must go through with the grain of sand inside that becomes a pearl. That is the metaphor: your pain ultimately becomes something beautiful.”

    Pretty straight-forward. But rich in imagery. Touching in its vulnerability.

    I've felt all these things in life. I think of my father-in-law and his failed struggle with cancer. I think of my lonely widowed mother-in-law. I think of the friend who's lost in love more times than he can keep track of. I think of the woman I met who watched her parents killed when she was a young girl. I think about the guy begging money for me who used to have a good job selling tires before his nervous breakdown. I think of the kid who killed himself and the girl who ran away.

    And I'm not preaching, but I think of something Jesus said: “…the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” This is the only reason I'm not an alcoholic alone and suicidal. I think I'm the merchant who found the pearl and the pearl itself.

    Oh I love this song. There's a Nashville songwriter who does a great version of it live, Matthew Perryman Jones: youtube.com/…
    deadpocketon July 08, 2010   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