"Nostradamus" as written by and Alistair Ian Stewart....
In the east the wind is blowing the boats across the sea
And their sails will fill the morning and their cries ring out to me

Oh, the more it changes, the more it stays the same
And the hand just re-arranges the players in the game

Oh, I had a dream
It seemed I stood alone
And the veil of all the years
Goes sinking from my eyes like a stone

A king shall fall and put to death by the English parliament shall be
Fire and plague to London come in the year of six and twenties three
An emperor of France shall rise who will be born near Italy
His rule cost his empire dear, Napoleon his name shall be

From Castile does Franco come and the Government driven out shall be
An English king seeks divorce, and from his throne cast down is he
One named Hister shall become a captain of Greater Germanie
No law does this man observe and bloody his rise and fall shall be

Man, man, your time is sand, your ways are leaves upon the sea
I am the eyes of Nostradamus, all your ways are known to me
Man, man, your time is sand, your ways are leaves upon the sea
I am the eyes of Nostradamus, all your ways are known to me

In the new lands of America three brothers now shall come to power
Two alone are born to rule but all must die before their hour
Two great men yet brothers not make the north united stand
Its power be seen to grow, and fear possess the eastern lands

Three leagues from the gates of Rome a Pope named Pol is doomed to die
A great wall that divides a city at this time is cast aside
These are the signs I bring to you
to show you when the time is nigh

Man, man, your time is sand, your ways are leaves upon the sea
I am the eyes of Nostradamus, all your ways are known to me

Man, man, your time is sand, your ways are leaves upon the sea
I am the eyes of Nostradamus, all your ways are known to me


Lyrics submitted by webmasterdee

"Nostradamus" as written by Alistair Ian Stewart

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Nostradamus song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentA great song. Amazing there are no interpretations. This song is pretty straightfoward and if any lines are confusing, there are many internet resources available that will probably clarify some of the more incomprehensible "prophecies" here.
    Really the only thing worth saying about this song is that it is ironic that the song is so great when Nostradamus was a clown when it came to being a visionary and a prophet. Virtually no experts seem to be particularly impressed by Nostradamus' predictive abilities anymore.
    aumchordon October 16, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeah, pretty straightforward, he's got the Great Fire of London in 1666, Napoleon (but in the song it's "Napoloron" but Nostradamus wrote "Pau, Nay, Loron"), the Spanish civil war and Francisco Franco, Hitler ("Hister" not bad), although the supposed reference to the Kennedys is a little weaker in the actual Michel de Nostredame version. I'm curious as to whether the English language "prophecies" in the song are purely the work of Al Stewart or if he got these words from some other source. The few I've found back to the original writings don't seem to look anything like what's in the song. Love the song though.
    orbitalson July 02, 2013   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningThe two great men are the World Trade Center towers. As "twin" phalluses, they could be seen as brothers, but are not (which is why the point was made). Their fate made the north united stand; its power be seen to grow; and fear possess the (middle) eastern lands.

    I am not defending Nostradamus specifically; but I know from personal experience as a child that it is possible to perceive the future. The "two great men" reference could be gibberish, or a mis-translation of his writings - but the way Al Stewart wrote it, it makes for a very interesting coincidence.

    It's just a shame that Nostradamus was incorrect about all three Kennedy brothers dying before their hour. Maybe in the stream of time he saw, Ted did not escape from the car in Chappaquiddick; but remained behind, like a gentleman, to help MJK. If only we could have lost Ted, but kept John & Bobby.
    PNW42on March 02, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTwo great men yet brothers not make the North United stand.

    Grant and Lincoln, holding the North together, and keeping the United States whole?
    mgajoshon October 22, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTwo great men yet brothers not make the North United stand.

    Grant and Lincoln, holding the North together, and keeping the United States whole?
    mgajoshon October 22, 2015   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationThis song is from the point of view of the French prophet Nostradamus. In 1555 he published a book of 943 quatrains that were said to predict the future. These prophecies came to him over the course of several fever dreams. Al Stewart adapted and reworded English translations of some of Nostradamus's quatrains to fit this song. Here are my interpretations of the prophecies he mentions:

    "A king shall fall and put to death by the English parliament shall be"
    - King Charles I was executed by Oliver Cromwell's parliament in 1649

    "Fire and plague to London come in the year of six and twenties three"
    - The great fire of London in 1666

    "An emperor of France shall rise who will be born near Italy
    His rule cost his empire dear, Napoloron his name shall be"
    - Napoleon's take over of France and his defeat in 1815.


    "From Castile does Franco come and the Government driven out shall be"
    - Francisco Franco's overthrow of the Spanish government in 1939

    "An English king seeks divorce, and from his throne cast down is he"
    - King Edward VIII loses his throne after marrying a divorcee in 1936

    "One named Hister shall become a captain of Greater Germanie
    No law does this man observe and bloody his rise and fall shall be"
    - Hitler's rise to power and his fall at the end of WWII in 1945

    "In the new lands of America three brothers now shall come to power
    Two alone are born to rule but all must die before their hour"
    -The Kennedy brothers: John, Robert and Joe. All died young. Joe died in WWII but John and Robert were assassinated in the 60s. Both were "born to rule" in that John was president when he was assassinated and Robert was a senator running for president when he was a assassinated.

    The rest of the prophecies are future predictions as they hadn't yet come to pass when the song was originally released in 1973 so it's not as obvious why Al Stewart included them. But here are my thoughts:

    "Two great men yet brothers not make the north united stand
    Its power be seen to grow, and fear possess the eastern lands"
    -This has been interpreted as the twin towers coming down and the subsequent wars in the middle East. But it could also be Trump and Putin's alliance against China. Who knows what was going through Al's head when he included this verse. It could be a reference to Lincoln and Grant during the Civil War as someone earlier mentioned, but I get the sense that the song was moving forward chronologically and Al intended on including prophecies that hadn't yet come to pass. The album is, after all, titled "Past, Present and Future".

    "Three leagues from the gates of Rome a Pope named Pol is doomed to die
    A great wall that divides a city at this time is cast aside"
    -This is the eeriest prediction in the song as Pope John Paul had not yet become Pope in 1973 when this song was first published nor had the Berlin Wall come down. Al correctly assumed that the Berlin Wall would come down around the same time there was a Pope named Pol (Paul). John Paul II became Pope in 1979, but he didn't die until 2005 ... 15 years after The Berlin Wall came down. Not exactly "at this time, but still that's pretty close. I'd love to ask Al why he included this verse.
    drakus1173on October 23, 2019   Link

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