Ophelia was a bride of God
A novice Carmelite
In sister cells
The cloister bells tolled on her wedding night

Ophelia was the rebel girl
A blue stocking suffragette
Who remedied society between her cigarettes
And Ophelia was the sweetheart

To a nation overnight
Curvaceous thighs
Vivacious eyes
Love was at first sight

Love was at first sight
Ophelia was a demigoddess in pre war Babylon
So statuesque a silhouette in black satin evening gowns
Ophelia was the mistress

To a Vegas gambling man
Signora Ophelia Maraschina
Mafia courtesan
Ophelia was the circus queen

The female cannonball
Projected through five flaming hoops
To wild and shocked applause
To wild and shocked applause

Ophelia was a tempest cyclone
A goddamn hurricane
Your common sense, your best defense
Lay wasted and in vain

For Ophelia'd know your every woe
And every pain you'd ever had
She'd sympathize and dry your eyes
And help you to forget

Help you to forget
And help you to forget
Ophelia's mind went wandering
You'd wonder where she'd gone

Through secret doors down corridors
She wanders them alone
All alone
fade to different spoken languages


Lyrics submitted by kevin

Ophelia Lyrics as written by Natalie A Merchant

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Downtown Music Publishing

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Ophelia song meanings
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21 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentOn a purely sonic form I love this song dearly, its such a whirlwind opening to an album that i think it was a brave decision to sequence the track in its track one slot, but no matter...

    However in regards to the actual meaning to the song I was (un)fortunate to have just bought it the week before i started my uni's course on feminism in media (more a tactical choice on my part rather than intellectual curiousity). So you can see how this following interpretation could be coloured in by my lectures rather than my mind just wandering about.
    Ophelia as a lass in hamlet is obedient, perhaps simple minded (though i don't think so) and directly controlled by two men, her father (think track 2) and her partner/twat-like main squeeze.
    The name of ophelia (to me) before this song always meant 'loopy fuckwit who can't get her bloody act together'. She is pushed and pulled, BETTER she ALLOWS herself to be pushed and pulled when she should be kicking booty a 'la buffy.
    Ophelia was pampered and kept so far away from this reality that most of us share, that she could not see that neither side were black and white. That without the skills to assimilate different sides of the coin she could only descend into her madness and ultimately leave the play dead.
    What came from all this when it reached my ears was that I got the sense that Natalie (god bless her boots) was 're-claiming' the name for all that women, the gender/species has become. That womenhood (or gurrrrls) has unburdened itself of the certain inevitability that ladies grow up to have babies and obey their fathers till the right guy comes along to tell them what to do. Not that women in Shakesphere's time where not capable of being independant; if anything they where more independant then than what became of them during the victorian age. However as a 'good' girl ophelia must follow her protocols until it results in emotional breakdown. Ophelia in the song is certainly not a good girl, but nor is she a bad one, she simply is, a women. She is a series of women (or a very multi faceted one) who have fulfilled one place or another. A nun, a socialite, a 'moll', a beauty queen, an idol, a circus preformer and of course a mother. All of these, and i mean all of these showing a strength of character and purpose of varying moral grades. That opehlia in this song is more than this notion that pop culture once embraced so ferverently of a glorified washing machine incapable of doing anything other than being mrs brady. That now someone like myself when i hear the name of ophelia I can remind myself of the wild and shocked applause.
    When i took my feminism class I was one of 5 men in a class of 150. And though sympathetic to the feminist movement I found that class to be orientated to dogma - and led by observing calculated trailers and talking about the most obvious and skimming over anything resembling genuine intellectual growth. I managed to absorb more about how i felt about the movement of women in the 4 minutes that this song takes than in the 12 hours that class put me through...truely a classic
    the_toolshedon May 04, 2003   Link

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