He deals the cards as a meditation
And those he plays never suspect
He doesn't play for the money he wins
He doesn't play for respect
He deals the cards to find the answer
The sacred geometry of chance
The hidden law of a probable outcome
The numbers lead a dance

I know that the spades are swords of a soldier
I know that the clubs are weapons of war
I know that diamonds mean money for this art
But that's not the shape of my heart

He may play the jack of diamonds
He may lay the queen of spades
He may conceal a king in his hand
While the memory of it fades

I know that the spades are swords of a soldier
I know that the clubs are weapons of war
I know that diamonds mean money for this art
But that's not the shape of my heart

And if I told you that I loved you
You'd maybe think there's something wrong
I'm not a man of too many faces
The mask I wear is one
Those who speak know nothing
And find out to their cost
Like those who curse their luck in too many places
And those who fear are lost

I know that the spades are swords of a soldier
I know that the clubs are weapons of war
I know that diamonds mean money for this art
But that's not the shape of my heart

Lyrics submitted by anieloo

Shape Of My Heart song meanings
Add Your Thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +16
    My Interpretation

    Sting is not referring to literal cards or card players. The narrarator of the song is talking about God. God is personified as a "dealer" who casts out "cards"--or life situations--to players, or people. A dealer wins no money, gains no respect, and holds either contempt or reverence. Some wonder how dealers can watch gamblers lose themselves and not be saddened or disgusted--it is by looking at the cards. There is no way to count cards when using multiple decks at a casino--you simply cannot know how many Jacks have gone by before you arrived--dealers focus on the cards, not on the faces and the sacred geometry of chance is the odds of the game played. The hidden law of a probable outcome is the fact that the house always wins:

    God is looking for the why in what people do with what their given. Ever since Adam and Eve--nothing is enough, not even the Garden of Eden. (I am going by the Christian lore because that is what is most easily identified with the lyrics.) People want more and more--consumerism is King, Fashion models are crowned Queens, the Jack refers to the everyday "Joe" ("Jack" is also used to mean the average man). Chance has no geometry--it's a mixed metaphor. Geometry can be graphed, chance has no shape--it is not a figure, and the belief in it is a matter of opinion. "He deals the cards to find the answer--the sacred, geometry of chance." This is referring to people who believe or disbelieve in God based upon what happens in their lives--whether it's an athiest who cannot believe in a God when famine exists, or a Priest dedicated to the sacrement with a blind eye and the same answers to everything.

    Therefore, God is looking for the hidden law of a probable outcome: that History repeats itself despite new generations, changing times, and multiple variations on world events. The question is: When will they ever learn?

    The Jacks: The Spades are the swords of a soldier has a dual meaning. First, calling a spade a spade originally was defined as being direct when speaking one's mind to another. This can often turn into confrontation, so most of society is passive-aggressive, and expects others to "take a hint." A soldier, unafraid of battle, will draw his sword. The Second meaning is a racial slur against black people in this country that was coined in 1928--this too, reflects an aspect of human nature that many Jacks have--whether it's about race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, etc.--that putting others down makes many people feel better about themselves.

    The Clubs are weapons of war. "Clubs" in this sense is any group of people who have an agenda that either is elitist, exclusionary, or agressive against others. Whether it be the Ku Klux Klan or MENSA--this is again a way that people derive self esteem through the belief that they are superior.

    "I know that Diamonds mean money for this art, but that's not the shape of my heart." Sting is talking about himself. He wrote this song, he is the witness, the listeners make him rich, but he is trying to change the way we view society and each other with this song. He acknowledges his music makes him rich, but his heart is not a stone (diamonds are a gemstone).

    Sting then speaks of himself to the audience, the people. He makes the music for the good of mankind--to entertain, to teach, to learn from the feedback on his work. But what happens when a celebrity tells fans he loves them? Most think, "He doesn't even know me, how could he love me? What a phony." Sting then says he has no stage-presence other than the one he has in his life. He is just a man.

    The Tough Part: I believe Sting is tying together the types of Jacks mentioned--The soldier (spade), the elitists (clubs) are speaking--always. Preaching, criticizing, condeming, complimenting themselves. But as time moves on, they do not. It is impossible to speak and listen at the same time. And if they don't listen, they learn nothing. Not even their dogma can progress/succeed in their goals--and, just like in WWII, strategy went out the window when the "final solution" began--winning the war took a back seat and the Nazis found out to their cost. "Like those who curse their luck in too many places" refers to people who blame anyone or anything except themselves and their own behavior for their misfortunes. That is all I will say--it's far too broad a topic and this is long as shit already. But the last new line, "those who fear are lost" refers to the fourth card class not mentioned. Sting references his own heart, but not that of a card. This is because the average person who is but a heart--with no motives or malice--often either fall victim to abuse, are overwhelmed with emotion and suffering and develop emotional/mental illness, or plain regular folk who are--out of their upbringings, life experiences, etc.--destined to never go after their dreams because somehow they learned helplessness (neglect is a form of abuse, so Pavlov's experiment fits here, as does those with economic hardship/barriers to life change.

    If you got through that, I thank you. I welcome comments--I wrote this in one draft so I may have left things out or misspoken, but I can't read it over--I'm tired.


    jaimela3on May 17, 2012   Link
  • +9
    General Comment

    Q: 'Shape of My Heart' is one of the album's most tender and revealing songs. Did you start out writing it about yourself or someone else?

    [Sting]: A: Actually, I wanted to write a song about a card player - someone who wasn't necessarily interested in winning, but was looking for some kind of mystical logic behind the laws of chance. He had a sort of philosopher streak in him. And part of my interest (in the subject) was the idea of the card player whose job it is never to show emotion, either positive or negative - which makes him a quite difficult person to live with or to have a relationship with because he has a hard time expressing his love.

    Q: What part of the song is about you?

    [Sting]: A: I think that reticence about being able to express love is probably part of me, but also the idea of the interest of life beyond winning. I'm not sure I need to win anymore. I enjoy to play the game for other reasons.

    sillybunnyon August 29, 2006   Link
  • +4
    General Comment

    The playing card deck actually developed from the Tarot, so there is something to the idea of reading fate in playing cards. Sting dabbles in that stuff, like reading tea leaves.

    The idea of the song is in two parts. First, the dealer reads his own fate in the cards while dealing a game for others. Second, the dealer's poker face extends to the rest of his life, hiding secrets from everyone, even those who think they're close to the truth about him.

    Amazing that someone can write a character that cool and inscrutable into a song with only two verses, a middle eight, and a chorus.

    Sting's guitarist, Dominic Miller, shares writing credit on this song, for composing the main guitar riff. One of the few Sting songs that he didn't originate musically.

    thedouglason November 23, 2004   Link
  • +4
    General Comment

    I love this song...i heard it on the radio, and everything about it is awesome. It's almost like i can read something differnet about the lyrics. A man who has "one face"....it's like he doesn't always know or say the right thing, and he's not willing to say what others "want to hear" in order to win someone over, because the faking just isn't who he is. He's a man who's just doing what he loves, and being honest about it. He's saying how a lot of people just talk to hear themselves talk, and they really have no idea about life or love...etc.

    but i love just the general sound of the song :)

    kaysway87on August 09, 2005   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    No one knows him, no one ever will.

    thebadguyon August 22, 2008   Link
  • +3
    My Interpretation

    This is song is about LOVE. About how meeting people and not knowing if they're the one--your one love, or ultimate, or last love, or some kind of love is like playing cards --sometimes you're lucky and sometimes you're not--it's a game of chance. The people you meet are like the cards that you're dealt. You think you have a winning hand and lose in end. Or you think you have a bad hand and win. That's what love relationships are like, if you think about it.

    He plays not to win money but to find how many hands (or people) must you be dealt before you win:

    "He deals the cards to find the answer The sacred geometry of chance The hidden law of a probable outcome The numbers lead a dance"

    He doesn't know how his current woman feels, but wants to tell her he loves her anyway, taking a chance:

    "And if I told you that I loved you You'd maybe think there's something wrong"...

    ..."Those who speak know nothing And find out to their cost Like those who curse their luck in too many places And those who fear are lost"...

    --- Again, taking a chance. You don't know how the other truly feels. You can guess they love you back. You "speak" or tell them you love them and find out if they love you in return. It's at your cost because you open yourself up by saying "I love you" first, and if they don't--you're the one wounded. You curse your luck or afterwards fear and are lost.

    All the other metaphors--clubs (weapons of war), diamonds (money)--queens "laid" (prob lots of women/sex)--he says I'm not playing the game for that--that's not what I'm searching for. The shape of my heart is love.

    It seems he's been playing this game of finding love for so long that he doesn't even hide what he's ultimately looking for too much---"I'm not a man of too many faces, my mask is one". He might even be telling women he loves them too soon (hence he thinks "if I told you that I loved you, you'd maybe think there's something wrong").

    I've loved this song since it first came out when I was in college. Now I believe I know what it means, and it makes me a bit sad, lol.

    phoenix75on October 02, 2013   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    Verse 2 seems to be about how the card player sees his entire life in terms of a card game. The "Jack of Diamonds" is a young, foolish man- "Jack"- with lots of money- "diamonds"- whom he "plays". He wins his money from young rich men that he plays cards with.
    The "Queen of Spades" would be a woman or women that he "lays". She's not the queen of hearts, because he doesn't love her- the spade, or "sword", gives a hint as to the nature of their relationship.
    The King- presumably the King of Hearts- is who he really is inside. He conceals his real thoughts and feelings inside him until he forgets who he really is. Just my thoughts, I'm out.

    Douggon June 30, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Actually I'd have to say that the Sugababes and Craig David butchered this song. But at least Craig David gave Sting credit.

    6th_sadistic_sniperon October 13, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Sting has used good symbolism here when referring to the card games. Like gambling, life too has unpredictable ends it's only what you make it, the verse " know that the spades are swords of a soldier I know that the clubs are weapons of war I know that diamonds mean money for this art But that's not the shape of my heart" illustrates the various selfish and dangerous paths you could pick in life but so long as you stick with your better judgement and have faith in yourself you won't fall victim to these pitfalls.

    deankavanagh1234on May 29, 2006   Link
  • +1
    Song Meaning

    Sting explained that through "Shape of My Heart", he wanted to tell the story of a "card player, a gambler who gambles not to win but to try to figure out something; to figure out some kind of mystical logic in luck, or chance; some kind of scientific, almost religious law."

    EternalTearsOfSorrowon November 22, 2018   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!

More Featured Meanings

Album art
Mountain Song
Jane's Addiction
Jane's Addiction vocalist Perry Farrell gives Adam Reader some heartfelt insight into Jane’s Addiction's hard rock manifesto "Mountain Song", which was the second single from their revolutionary album Nothing's Shocking. Mountain song was first recorded in 1986 and appeared on the soundtrack to the film Dudes starring Jon Cryer. The version on Nothing's Shocking was re-recorded in 1988. "'Mountain Song' was actually about... I hate to say it but... drugs. Climbing this mountain and getting as high as you can, and then coming down that mountain," reveals Farrell. "What it feels to descend from the mountain top... not easy at all. The ascension is tough but exhilarating. Getting down is... it's a real bummer. Drugs is not for everybody obviously. For me, I wanted to experience the heights, and the lows come along with it." "There's a part - 'Cash in now honey, cash in Miss Smith.' Miss Smith is my Mother; our last name was Smith. Cashing in when she cashed in her life. So... she decided that, to her... at that time, she was desperate. Life wasn't worth it for her, that was her opinion. Some people think, never take your life, and some people find that their life isn't worth living. She was in love with my Dad, and my Dad was not faithful to her, and it broke her heart. She was very desperate and she did something that I know she regrets."
Album art
Ed Sheeran
“Blue” is a song about a love that is persisting in the discomfort of the person experiencing the emotion. Ed Sheeran reflects on love lost, and although he wishes his former partner find happiness, he cannot but admit his feelings are still very much there. He expresses the realization that he might never find another on this stringed instrumental by Aaron Dessner.
Album art
Head > Heels
Ed Sheeran
“Head > Heels” is a track that aims to capture what it feels like to experience romance that exceeds expectations. Ed Sheeran dedicates his album outro to a lover who has blessed him with a unique experience that he seeks to describe through the song’s nuanced lyrics.
Album art
Another Love
Tom Odell
I think the meaning is pretty clear. This person got really burned in a previous relationship, and because of this is unable to love and show care in his present one, even though he so badly wants to. It's lovely song, and very sad. You can really feel how defeated and frustrated he is with himself.
Album art
Cranberries, The
"Zombie" is about the ethno-political conflict in Ireland. This is obvious if you know anything of the singer (Dolores O'Riordan)'s Irish heritage and understood the "1916" Easter Rising reference. "Another head hangs lowly Child is slowly taken And the violence caused such silence Who are we mistaken - Another mother's breaking Heart is taking over" Laments the Warrington bomb attacks in which two children were fatally injured on March 23rd, 1993. Twelve year old Tim Parry was taken off life support with permission from his mother after five days in the hospital, virtually braindead. "But you see it's not me It's not my family" References how people who are not directly involved with the violence feel about it. They are "zombies" without sympathy who refuse to take action while others suffer.