I once upon a time
Carried a burden inside
Some will ask goodbye
A broken line but underlined
There's an ocean of sorrow in you

Sorrow in me

Saw movement in their eyes
Said I no longer knew the way
Given up the ghost
A passing minds and its a fear
And the wait for redemption ahead

Waiting to fade

Fading again

If death should take me now
Count my mistakes and let me through
Whisper in my ear
Taken more than we've received
And the ocean of sorrow is you

Lyrics submitted by DreamingInTheÆther, edited by TatorODix, SamDozer

Burden Lyrics as written by Mikael Lars Akerfeldt

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Burden song meanings
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  • +9
    General CommentCorrect lyrics:

    I once upon a time
    Carried a burden inside
    I sung a last goodbye
    A broken rhyme I had underlined
    There's an ocean of sorrow in you

    A sorrow in me

    I saw a movement in their eyes
    That said I no longer knew the way
    I had given up the ghost
    A passive mind submit to fear
    And the wait for redemption at hand

    Waiting to fail

    Failing again

    If death should take me now
    Count my mistakes and let me through
    Whisper in my ear
    You have taken more than we've recieved
    And the ocean of sorrow is you
    6th_sadistic_sniperon June 06, 2008   Link
  • +6
    General CommentI think it's about a struggle with faith, where faith is conveyed as the burden. I'm not sure if it's Mike's struggle with faith or a portrayal of a struggle, but he did say this new album had the most personal lyrics he had ever written, so I will assume it's Mike's struggle for this analysis.

    I think the first verse deals with when Mike started questioning his former faith (not sure if he had one), and he uses two voices in which one narrates at the start, while the other expresses the old Mike's thoughts. "I once upon a time carried a burden inside" depicts Mike thinking about his days of faith (the "burden") while writing this song. The use of "inside" is what first got me thinking that this song was about faith, as it could suggest at something spiritual. The next line, "some will ask goodbye" shows how some people will give up on their faiths which is evident in "goodbye." However the use of "some" is ironic because further into the song, Mike is the one who has "asked goodbye" to his former faith. This may be because Mike, at the time, was trying to avoid the idea that he was growing apart with his religion. The sense that Mike is questioning his religion is enhanced by the use of "ask goodbye" instead of "say goodbye," suggesting at the confusion he is feeling. The next line represents how the line seperating the faithful from the non-faithful is non-existant or "broken", so it is supposedly easy for a non-faithful person to become faithful and vice versa; but this "broken line" is "underlined" suggesting at how in the eyes of the faithful, there is only one direction you can go over this line. The faithful Mike is passing judgement on those who oppose this one way road by saying "there's an ocean of sorrow in you." As the music crescendos however, the faithful Mike realizes that he is the same as he wails "sorrow in me."

    The next verse deals with him leaving his religion. Although Mike says he "saw movement in their eyes," in reality it suggests that the people of his religion are the ones watching him, and Mike feels their stares. Mike begins sharing with the listener, and the people of his religion, that he "no longer knew the way" and had "given up the ghost." The use of "ghost" implies that his faith was no longer tangible to him. It could also have a dual meaning in which it was never tangible to him in the first place because he couldn't see it. The formerly faithful Mike is now feeling the "passing minds" of his former brothers, evoking a sense of loneliness, as he "fear[s]" the "wait for redemption ahead." This implies that remnants of his faith still remain at this time, because it is still fresh in his mind, and he is afraid of what leaving his religion will bring (at first).

    I actually think Mike says:
    "Waiting to fail"

    "Failing again"
    in the song for the next part.

    Anyway, if that's the case, I think it portrays Mike's fear crescendoing (as heard in the music) after leaving his faith, and he waits for bad things to happen. "Failing again" suggests that the confused Mike is blaming his failures on him leaving his faith. It may also suggest at how religions draw people in with promises of prosperity and happiness, and if people leave their religions, they are unsettled by their scare tactics, that all this prosperity and happiness will be taken away from them.

    The last verse depicts the thoughts of the Mike writing this song, now that all this time has passed. He has realized that "if death should take me now," he is no longer afraid and has a more blasé view on death. He is willing to accept the consequences IF there are any ("count my mistakes[sins]") when he dies and asks to "let me through." Perhaps, Mike believes that God isn't as merciless as he is portrayed to be in the bible, and that not all sinners will be sent to Hell. This is a more relaxed view used to contrast with the confusion caused by the PEOPLE of the religion from the previous verse. The "whisper in my ear" portrays the people of the organised religions, trying to influence Mike. The verb "whisper" suggests at some snakelike qualities, which may be an allusion to Adam and Eve and the snake, implying that the people in organised religions, have become exactly what their religion tells them not to be. Mike is now free of their influence and finally realises that the faithful have "taken more" than Mike and his family have "received," as they had taken away Mike's confidence.

    The last line "and the ocean of sorrow is you" is Mike's final realisation that nothing was his fault, and that the people were the ones causing this. It conveys how Mike thinks that they are the ones who are truly confused. The repetition of "ocean" was originally, in the first two verses only used to portray the sorrow as an ocean, however in Mike's final realisation, he likens the people to an inescapable plague, as the people (not the sorrow) are described as an "ocean of sorrow."

    I don't think this song is meant to be anti-religious. I think it just tells Mike's story and his experiences with religion. I may have interpretted it this way because I have recently left christianity as well, in which case it may be about something completely different, but this is what I take from this brilliant song. This song has definitely helped me.
    dirtyasiansluton May 08, 2008   Link
  • +4
    General CommentJust because he's atheist doesn't mean he can't write a song about faith.

    That's why the song is so pessimistic about faith; because it's from an atheist's point of view.
    dirtyasiansluton July 20, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentBloodytea, this album is not a concept album, mikael never said it was. You are trying to make connections which aren't there. People did that as well with the ghost reveries album which wasnt a concept either, but at least with that album it was original intented to be a concept but was later dropped because it didnt work out

    and for the people who think this song is about faith. I doubt it since mikael is an atheist. Sweden is one of the most atheistic countries in the world.
    In the miston July 17, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThe acoustic guitar over the last minute of this song going further and further out of key absolutely blows my mind everytime I hear it
    Bitter_Bloodon April 22, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentInVegas has got it absolutely correct, Mikael wrote the lyric to this based on a former girlfriend who committed suicide during the recording of "Watershed".

    A link to that particular interview. It's in the third part of said interview.


    Opethfanatic89on April 26, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentYes I agree InVegasit's about an ex of his who committed suicide and Hessian Peel/Hex Omega is connected to it too. The lyrics clearly are about a suicide and I also know someone who's committed the act as well.
    EternalTearsOfSorrowon January 11, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI just watched an interview with Mikael where he said that this was written about someone that he knew that committed suicide. He says he found out when they were in the studio that a girl he used to go out with long ago had killed herself, and the lyrics were written about her. So there you go.
    InVegason January 01, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI've been reading all the perspectives and I am not sure I agree with any of them. The idea of the song being about someone commiting suicide is definately interesting but still doesn't make much sense to me. After seeing a few interviews and having a respectable knowledge of the band's history, I honestly think that this song is about Peter Lindgren. I think that Mikael is talking about the dead weight that Peter was to the creative process of the band, and how, regardless of his(Mike's) personal feelings, knows that Peter's departure was/is for the best, and that Peter will eventually realize that he made a mistake,( The ocean of sorrow is/in you). Though also Mike is reluctant and misses the companionship with Peter and desperately wants him back in the band(If death should take me now
    Count my mistakes and let me through). I don't know, but this seems to make the most sense to me.
    soundfanaticon March 01, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentYeah, I just recently saw another newer interview where he let on that Hessian Peel and Hex Omega are about her, too. I don't have the link but it was pretty interesting. He said that the last he had heard about her was that she had had a baby and that he was glad for her, because he was hoping it would force her to get her life in order for the child. Unfortunately, the next he heard about her was that she'd taken her life. He said she was a very complex person, and obviously whatever she went through affected him pretty deeply.
    InVegason July 03, 2009   Link

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