I married Isis on the fifth day of May
But I could not hold on to her very long
So I cut off my hair and I rode straight away
For the wild unknown country where I could not go wrong.

I came to a high place of darkness and light
The dividing line ran through the center of town
I hitched up my pony to a post on the right
Went in to a laundry to wash my clothes down.

A man in the corner, he approached me for a match
I knew right away he was not ordinary
He said "Are you looking for something easy to catch?"
I said "I got no money". He said "That ain't necessary".

We set out that night for the cold in the North
I gave him my blanket; he gave me his word
I said "Where are we going ?" He said "We'd be back by the fourth."
I said "That's the best news I've ever heard".

I was thinking about turquoise I was thinking about gold
I was thinking about diamonds and the world's biggest necklace
As we rode through the canyons through the devilish cold
I was thinking about Isis how she thought I was so reckless.

How she told me that one day we would meet up again
And things would be different the next time we wed
If I only could hang on and just be her friend
I still can't remember all the best things she said.

We came to the pyramids all embedded in ice
He said "There's a body I'm trying to find.
If I carry it out, it'll bring a good prize"
Twas' then that I knew what he had on his mind.

The wind it was howling and the snow was outrageous
We chopped through the night and we chopped through the dawn
When he died I was hoping that it wasn't contagious
But I made up my mind that I had to go on.
I broke into the tomb but the casket was empty.
There was no jewels, no nothing, I felt I'd been had
When I saw that my partner was just being friendly
When I took up his offer I must-a been mad.

I picked up his body and I dragged him inside
Threw him down in the hole and I put back the cover
I said a quick prayer and I felt satisfied
Then I rode back to find Isis, just to tell her I love her.

She was there in the meadow where the creek used to rise
Blinded by sleep and in need of a bed
I came in from the East with the sun in my eyes
I cursed her one time then I rode on ahead.

She said "Where ya been?" I said "No place special?"
She said "You look different." I said "Well I guess."
She said "You been gone." I said "That's only natural."
She said "You gonna stay?" I said "If you want me to, yes!"

Isis oh Isis, you mystical child
What drives me to you is what drives me insane
I still can remember the way that you smiled
On the fifth day of May in the drizzling rain.

Lyrics submitted by rakka, edited by Dartman

Isis song meanings
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  • +7
    General Commentlong post warning *

    this is my attempt to break the song down

    the first verse is pretty straightforward. He marries his love but then leaves him for been reckless and inattentive. When she leaves he does as well and starts his journey.

    2nd and 3rd verse- I actually believe these to be the most significant verses in the whole song but i will explain why at the end. for now he arrives at a town and meets a shady character who asks if bob wants to go on an adventure, he accepts and they set off.

    4th verse - sign that maybe bob and his isis arranged to meet after year apart - "we'd be back by the fourth" that's the best news that ive ever heard". Maybe means that they get back on the 4th of may a year after bob and isis were married.

    5th - sign of why isis might of left him "i was thinking about isis how she thought i was so reckless". he is greedy and his mind is corrupt by thoughts of riches

    6th - isis promises to meet bob once he changes. bob realises how self involved he was and cant remember the best of her anymore, he will settle for less as long as she sticks around.

    7th - he realises his partner isnt a treasure hunter but a grave robber and only wanted his help to break into the tomb and not share the riches

    8th - they trek for days through the freezing weather and eventually he dies in the cold. it is now that he realises all that his partner wanted was company and a friend. Everything is now put into perspective for him and he appreciates that their are more important things in life then gold and riches. been loving and loved is much more important.

    "I broke into the tomb but the casket was empty
    There was no jewels no nothing I felt I'd been had
    When I saw that my partner was just being friendly
    When I took up his offer I must-a been mad."

    it is brilliantly contrasted in the emptiness of the casket, where the casket represents bob. When the casket was unopened he was driven by treasure and money, the empty casket shows that he is just trying to fill a void the money cannot bring. It hits home how selfish he was, and how stupid he was to believe that there actually was treasure when all the guy wanted was a friend and to not die alone.

    9th - this is his transformation. Him burying the man in the casket i believe is him accepting the fact that his life cannot be filled by gold and money but by his isis. he says goodbye to his friend and buries his partner and says a prayer so he doesnt leave this world alone, but with a friend.

    10 and 11 - his return to his isis, all pretty self explanatory. he has obviously changed and isis notices, she is willing to take him back.

    12 - "what drives me to you is what drive me insane" - i believe this means that he has found his insanity in isis. where as before his old normal self could not appreciate what he had, his new self is drawn towards isis and it drives him mad. Seeing her again brings back all his best memories of her.

    i believe this song is about self growth represented by the journey he took. his original search for the treasure represented his self involved, reckless side. the discovering of the tomb, the part of him that loves isis.

    the 2nd and 3rd verse i believe represent this the best. the town he visits is divided right down the middle. one side dark, the other side light. he hitches his pony on the right, so he chooses the light side. The light side represents what he is and the dark side of town represents what he has to become.

    When he meets this stranger It represents his character - what he originally thought to be his true self or his light self is shown when he believes he is meeting a treasure hunter and believes there is treasure. But the dark side of town still remains unknown and a mystery to him, just as the treasure hunter is just someone who he hasnt bothered to understand. What he doesnt realise is that the dark side of town and the dark shady character that is the treasure hunter (who is just someone who is lonely and in need of a friend) is actually the person he has to become to be with isis. This only becomes apparent to him when he open up the casket and realizes there is no treasure. At least that is my take on it

    That may have all been an incomprehensible mess, but it made sense in my head :)
    alexsaxonon November 21, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIsis was an egyptian Goddess. This song is about the power a woman's lure. The character in the song (dylan refers first person but i'm sure he didn't actually marry an egyptian goddess) marries Isis, then she leaves him (she was known to be a tempremental temptress). He and his partner then go to break into a tomb (a cardinal sin towards Egypt), however he 'sells out' his partner and locks in an an empty casket then "rode back to find Isis just to tell her I love her".

    This song is about how men can be blinded by women and go as far as to sell out their own friends for them (prehaps something that Dylan himself did). As only Bobby can, in this song he is taking common subject matter and weaving into a poetic alligorical story.
    unihillon December 31, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentBut I made up my mind that I had to go on.
    I broke into the tomb but the casket was empty
    There was no jewels no nothing I felt I'd been had
    When I saw that my partner was just being friendly
    When I took up his offer I must-a been mad

    The guy is not going to kill Dylan. And Dylan didn't kill him. The guy was sick and had nobody to bury him, so he just wanted Dylan to help him. When Dylan realizes that, how sad loneliness can be, he goes back to his Goddess (thanks unihill)
    cavernon February 03, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHen this album first came out, I never really liked or understood it. Several years later, however, I took a trip through the Southwest US with my brother. He brought along a cassette of Desire. Suddenly, the whole album, and this song in particular made sense. Ok - so there are no pyramids in the SW. But where are there "Pyramids embedded in ice". The alleghorical nature of the song makes this somewhat moot.

    There are some great lines. I partiularly like the conversation he and Isis has upon his return- "Well, I guess..." and the last line is spectacular - "I still can remember the way that you smiled
    On the fifth day of May in the drizzling rain".
    MamboManon July 18, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commentcavern-- agreed, there is definitly no murdering in this song. this an awesome song to belt out, a good hiking song
    bdunon May 26, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is such a beautiful song....
    i was thinkin about isis as you thought i was so reckless

    what i got out of this song is:
    a man wanted to be burried in a tomb, had no one eles to do it, so he turned to bob...

    AlAnAP0563on June 05, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe White Stripes do an amazing cover of this song live. You can probably find it on mp3.
    pooperscooperon June 17, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song not so much for the lyrics themselves, which are pretty pointless, even if funny, except for some lightspot as the dialogue between Isis and he who speaks. But I exceedingly adore THE WAY he sing it, the way he let out every single sound. Some of my favourites are the pronounciation of RECKLESS and the way he singls "WELL I GUESS" insisting on the Ls. i think Dylan here is showing his love for every word.
    nightingalerideron September 02, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentCool fact.
    Because this song is very white-stripy. Music and lirically (they were married, you know)
    cavernon December 12, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentApparently they weren't actually married.

    Anyway in one of his concerts that I have Dylan says it is a song about marriage so some of the above comments are spot on.
    bugmenoton December 14, 2005   Link

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