Part 1: Eruption

Part 2: Stones of Years

Has the dawn ever seen your eyes?
Have the days made you so unwise?
Realize, you are.

Had you talked to the winds of time,
Then you'd know how the waters rhyme,
Taste of wine,

How can you know where you've been?
In time, you'll see the sign
And realize your sin.

Will you know how the seed is sown?
All your time has been overgrown,
Never known.

Have you walked on the stones of years?
When you speak, is it you that hears?
Are your ears full?

You can't hear anything at all.

Part 3: Iconoclast

Part 4: Mass

The preacher said a prayer
save every single hair on his head
he's dead

The minister of hate
had just arrived too late to be spared
who cared

The weaver in the web that he made

The pilgrim wandered in
committing every sin that he could
so good

The cardinal of grief
was set in the belief he'd be saved
from the grave

The weaver in the web that he made

Part 5: Manticore

Part 6: Battlefield

Clear the battlefield and let me see
All the profit from our victory.
You talk of freedom, starving children fall.
Are you deaf when you hear the season's call?

Were you there to watch the earth be scorched?
Did you stand beside the spectral torch?
Know the leaves of sorrow turned their face,
Scattered on the ashes of disgrace.

Ev'ry blade is sharp; the arrows fly
Where the victims of your armies lie,
Where the blades of grass and arrows reign
Then there'd be no sorrow,
Be no pain.

Part 7: Aquatarkus

Lyrics submitted by thedanman344, edited by Undinal

Tarkus song meanings
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  • +3
    General Comment
    yes, this song is amazing. captivates you for 20 minutes. Once you reach part 2, there's no turning back!
    manch0won January 28, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General Comment
    I think its "the cardinal of grief" not the "coroner." It fits much better with the theme of "Mass," where all of the other characters are religious (preacher, minister, pilgrim, high priest, bishop, choir).
    boloskyon February 10, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Comment
    I see a meaning of rebirth and redemption in this song. Tarkus lives a vicious, violent life and does not realize that it is being lived wrong [Stones of Years]. When he is defeated by the Manticore, he realizes his violent ways were not the right path- violence does not help. it only ends up hurting- he hurt himself and those he fought. So, he redeems himself- he goes into the sea, a completely new machine. At the end of Aquatarkus, the same music from Eruption is played- Tarkus has been born anew. That's just my take on it, seems good IMO. I love this song, it's 20 minutes and never boring. Epic.
    Aquatarkuson April 17, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Comment
    The armadillo is actually progressive rock, ELP, and Keith Emerson himself, and the song is actually a paranoid foretelling of his own future downfall. As the progressive armadillo, ELP overcomes several enemy genres of Rock (country, metal, and disco?), but is finally defeated by the Mantichore of Punk Rock, which makes him look Passé. Seriously wounded, the ELP Armadillo drifts away down a river to a fate of unknown oblivion, since the Artists couldn’t be bothered to disclose what became of him. You get the feeling they were more interested in doodling around than telling a real story. As for the Mantichore, since it was probably The Ramones, it toiled in obscurity until it finally got a modest amount of cash. Then it promptly died. But its battle songs were used in commercials until it became posthumously revered, unlike the poor armadillo who is having a hard time aquatically drifting into the Hall of Fame. Even the monstrous form of the Donna Summers beat out this modest beast.
    kassie1124on November 01, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    This is my favorite song by ELP and a real masterpiece of progressive rock. The song seems to be about the futility of war. The "Battlefield" section of the song shares a lot of similarities with "Epitaph" by King Crimson. I read that when ELP played "Tarkus" in concert, they'd play some excerpts from "Epitaph" when they got to that section. Did anyone else notice the band paying tribute to "Mars: Bringer of War" (from "The Planets" by Gustav Holst) at the end of "Tarkus?" The ending to "Tarkus" and ending to "Mars" are very similar.
    passionateartson September 15, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    Part 2: Stones of Years, 2nd verse should be: Then you'd know how the waters brine, Taste of wine, I think this album is ELP's masterpiece.
    tombo25on March 03, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    I put this suite right after Supper's Ready.
    CharMarRuleson July 16, 2021   Link
  • 0
    My Opinion
    Songs like these that feel like an adventure are always my favorite kinds. Dogs is an incredible song, but it doesn\'t show much progression in the story of the dogs only describing the dogs and their victims. Songs like supper\'s ready and Tarkus feel like adventures because the main character(s) are actually doing something and going somewhere.
    saul101740on April 21, 2022   Link
  • -1
    General Comment
    This is a very odd song, well written, it really pounces on you from the beginning, throwing one punch after another without ever letting up. I like it.
    inpraiseoffollyon September 01, 2006   Link
  • -1
    General Comment
    Part 4 lyrics are wrong. Correction as follows: The preacher said a prayer save every single hair on his head he's dead The minister of hate had just arrived too late to be spared who cared The weaver in the web that he made The pilgrim wandered in committing every sin that he could so good The coroner of grief was set in the belief he'd be saved from the grave The weaver in the web that he made [Instrumental Interlude] The high priest took a blade To bless the ones who ?(played) ?(and all obeyed) The messenger appeared Is slowly drawing nearer to the time a sign The weaver in the web that he made A bishop rings a bell A cloak of darkness fell across the ground without a sound The silent choir sing and in their silence bring ?() sound ?(harmonic crown) The weaver in the web that he made Still a great song.
    inpraiseoffollyon September 13, 2006   Link

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