They disembarked in 45
And no-one spoke and no-one smiled
There were to many spaces in the line.
Gathered at the cenotaph
All agreed with the hand on heart
To sheath the sacrificial Knifes.
But now
She stands upon Southampton dock
With her handkerchief
And her summer frock clings
To her wet body in the rain.
In quiet desperation knuckles
White upon the slippery reins
She bravely waves the boys Goodbye again.

And still the dark stain spreads between
His shoulder blades.
A mute reminder of the poppy fields and graves.
And when the fight was over
We spent what they had made.
But in the bottom of our hearts
We felt the final cut.

Lyrics submitted by Demau Senae

Southampton Dock Lyrics as written by Roger Waters

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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Southampton Dock song meanings
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  • +4
    General CommentFrom what I understand, this song, in its entirity, is about how the Western Powers, particularly the U.S. and the U.K., squandered the peace and prosperity that the soldiers of World War II - like Eric Fletcher Waters - fought and died to achieve for future generations.

    The first stanza is about the bittersweet return of British soldiers to London, "gathering at the Cenotaph" (the memorial to the Glorious Dead in the middle of town) and agreeing to "sheath the sacrificial knives" (ie: never take up arms again).

    The second stanza is a severe indictment of Margaret Thatcher, holding her accountable for the breaking of this sacred trust forged between the noble generation that sacrificed their lives to fight Fascism, and our own, by "waving the boys goodbye again" as they go to fight to retain the Falklands for Queen and Country.

    Her condition of "quiet desperation / knuckles white upon the slippery reins" (ie: reins of power) evokes an image of a Chief Executive willing to go to war and sacrifice many lives and many billions of dollars in order to keep in power.
    Antedeuson January 03, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt all makes sense, Antedeus seems to get it. But saying she's in "quiet desperation" (referencing the dark side of the moon lyric) makes her seem like a more sympathetic figure. Could just be an innocent women whose witnessed too many wars.
    Does anyone know what the meaning of
    "and still the dark stain spreads between
    his shoulder blades" is?
    LEFon October 27, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationIn agreement with Antedeus on the meaning behind the song. One had a question of what "still the dark stain spreads between his shoulder blades" meant. My thought is that if you look at the next line it makes it more obvious. The dark stain could be blood from carrying the dead on their shoulders before they bury them. It is also a possibility that is sweat from having to dig the graves. In accordance with Antedeus' definition of the song, the line says "still" which means even though they didn't want to fight and didn't want to bear witness to anymore dying, they are still having to carry or bury their dead.
    mstrube23on October 19, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commentabout sending a loved boy/husband off to war... the woman/family is not willing for them to leave but has to do their duty helping and giving their part to the war.. this album is a very TOUCHING album... one of PINK FLOYDS greatests!
    pinkfloyd_atreyuon November 30, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAt least someone (Antedeus) seems to know what they're talking about.
    karkarinuson August 05, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyep. im pretty sure Antedeus knows whats going on.

    Anyway, its a great song
    Crazy_Diamondon April 30, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song competes with A New Machine for the worst vocals of any PF song. Easily the worst on the album (one of PF's worst, though not at all bad, which is saying something) except for Not Now John, which was just unnecessary.

    Antedeus understands the song.
    inpraiseoffollyon May 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think this song is ok, fits the theme of the Final Cut well but not my favorite off the album, Wouldnt say it has the worst vocals though.
    Id give it a 7/10...meh!
    *JoSIe*on September 24, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentithis song gives me goosebumps
    sambennallickon January 16, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe live version that Roger does on In the Flesh is so anthemic. Better than the studio one by far.
    Masked Mouseon January 24, 2008   Link

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