I'm scared of swimming in the sea
Dark shapes moving under me
Every fear I swallow makes me small
Inconsequential things occur
Alarms are triggered
Memories stir
It's not the way it has to be

I'm afraid of what I do not know
I hate being undermined
I'm afraid I can be devil man
And I'm scared to be divine
Don't mess with me my fuse is short
Beneath this skin these fragments caught

When I allow it to be
There's no control over me
I have my fears
But they do not have me

Walking through the undergrowth, to the house in the woods
The deeper I go, the darker it gets
I peer through the window
Knock at the door
And the monster I was
So afraid of
Lies curled up on the floor
Is curled up on the floor just like a baby boy

I cry until I laugh

I'm afraid of being mothered
With my balls shut in the pen
I'm afraid of loving women
And I'm scared of loving men
Flashbacks coming in every night
Don't tell me everything's alright

When I allow it to be
It has no control over me
I own my fear
So it doesn't own me

Walking through the undergrowth, to the house in the woods
The deeper I go, the darker it gets
I peer through the window
Knock at the door
And the monster I was
So afraid of
Lies curled up on the floor
Is curled up on the floor just like a baby boy

I cry until I laugh

Lyrics submitted by mike_patton

Darkness Lyrics as written by Peter Gabriel

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

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Darkness song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentLove, love, love this song. Such an intensely evocative combination of lyric, arrangement, and delivery. The sum is definitely greater than its parts. At the broadest level, I think the song represents the struggle any of us faces once we decide to acknowledge the true depths of our humanity, including our potential for both profound good and profound evil. I also hear some strong parallels in the lyric to what is often referred to as "Buddhist psychology," particularly the notions of mindfulness and acceptance:

    "when I allow it to be,
    there's no control over me"

    In fact, given the progression from the almost tentative delivery of the initial statement of fears through the subsequent intensification and eventual re-evaluation of the fearful experience (which occurs through going "deeper" into unknown parts of the self), I can also hear this song as a representation of processes that may characterize good (i.e., meaningful and helpful) psychotherapy. From this perspective, it's especially interesting to note how the gentle reassurance of "It's not the way it has to be" is answered with a more strident--even violent--statement of the "swallowed" fears.

    (Relative to these tensions, I sometimes hear "Darkness" as a sort of sister song to "Digging in the Dirt." For instance, in addition to the obvious parallels related to fear, darkness, depth, and hope for healing, compare the lines "Don't mess with me, my fuse is short" and "Don't tell me everything's all right" with the vitriolic "you've gone too far/shut your mouth" sections of DitD.)
    fredwardjaydavieson March 23, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt's about facing your fears... and discovering that they are not so dreadful after all.
    Germon June 10, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentlovely line: "im afraid of loving women, im afraif of loving men".. yes, mr.germ, the line "i cry until i laugh" makes your explanation quite possible.
    carrotkinson May 11, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo me, easily the best song on the album. I adore the chorus melody.

    Like stated above,the song is about overcoming and controlling your fears.

    The song looks at fears the same way, lets say, we might look at a wild animal we're squared off with in the woods - it may look scary, but it's just as scared as we are.

    We grow up and we realize all those things we were scared of really aren't that scary.

    Now that I think about it, the whole album does have this growing up thing to it, no pun, of course.
    FaaipDeOaidon November 22, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNow THAT'S how you open an album. Whatever might have been ambiguous in the lyrics is cast into focus by the arrangement, which turns on a dime between industrial dissonance and exquisite tenderness. The rest of the album continues to play with this tension, both musically and lyrically, and then "Signal To Noise" brings it all full circle.

    The man is a genius. There can no longer be the slightest question.
    raffishtenant2on July 17, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree--this is definitely the best song on the album. I can't get it out of my head.
    Cobehnon January 08, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIn this song when it is played loudly it's Peter's panic in seeing his fear but when the music goes quieter it's his reason in facing his fears. Brilliant song.
    subjectbon September 21, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentReminds me of the physical, emotional and mental roller-coaster of getting off of morphine.
    thecrossboneon December 05, 2014   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationTo me this song is about a man who was abused as a little boy. To the point where he becomes a "monster" with a short fuse. Walking into the undergrowth to the house is his memory of when he changed into a monster. Way back when he was a boy. Take another listen...
    Bskuhlon May 09, 2018   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOMG! To Bskuhl! Thank You! You too?
    mark107615on February 04, 2021   Link

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