"Silver Ships Of Andilar" as written by and Townes Van Zandt....
Of those that sailed the silver ships
From Andilar I am the last
The deeds that rang our youthful dreams
It seems shall go undone
North for the shores of Valinor
Our bows and crimson sails were made
Our captains were strong, our lances long
And our liege the holy king

The hills did turn from green to blue
And vanish as on the decks we watched
But every thought in that noble company
Was forward bound
To the lifeless plains of Valinor
Where reigns the dark and frozen one
And with tongues afire and glorious eyes
We pledged our mission be

The clime from mild to bitter ran
The wind from fair to fierce did blow
Oath and prayer did turn to thoughts
Of homes left far behind
Longed every man for some glimpse of land
And the host that did await us there
But each new day brought only a sea
And sky of ice and gray

Thanks give no word can drag you through
Those endless weeks our ships did roll
Thanks give you cannot see those sails
And faces bleach and draw
Ice we drank and leather did chew
For the oceans are unwholesome there
The dead that slid into the seas
Did freeze before our eyes

Then a wind did fling the ships apart
Each one to go her separate way
The sky did howl, the hull did groan
For how long I do not know
And what men were left when the winds had ceased
Grew dull and low of countenance
For soldiers denied their battle plain
On comrades soon must turn

So one by one we died alone
Some by hunger, some by steel
Bodies froze where they did fall
Their souls unsanctified
Until only another and I were left
Then just before his flame did fail
We shone ourselves brothers-in-arms
To serve the holy king

Perhaps this shall reach Andilar
Although I know not how it can
For once again he's hurled his wind
Upon the silver prow
But if it should my words are these
Arise young men fine ships to build
And set them north for Valinor
'neath standards proud as fire


Lyrics submitted by doqtor

"Silver Ships of Andilar" as written by

Lyrics © BUG MUSIC O/B/O KATIE BELLE MUSIC

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Silver Ships Of Andilar song meanings
Add your thoughts

1 Comment

sort form View by:
  • 0
    General Comment1) The song uses a reference from Tolkien (of which, later); but it works well even without that reference. It can be read as a fable about old age, where sickness and loneliness force people to review the worth of their entire existence, making them first question, and then affirm, the naive overblown hopes of their younger years. Silly, unrealistic, and doomed. But we'd do it all over again. It's who we are.

    2) The Tolkienian legend of Valinor serves TVZ in this song in the same way that Mexican history serves him in Pancho and Lefty: as a platform for his own thinking.

    In Tolkien, Valinor was the realm of the gods and immortals. It was attacked by a human fleet sailing from Numenor under the corrupting influence of Sauron and ended in catastrophe for the attackers. The story is an echo of the Tree of knowledge or Tower of Babel myths: people try to do the impossible, leading to their inevitable demise. Pride and fall. There are also traces of Prometheus or the misunderstood Satan of Milton's Paradise lost.

    TVZ leaves most of the story out, with the name Valinor used as an anchor to place the reader in context. The armada sets sail with great hope, but gradually dwindles and peters out before it reaches it destination, with the speaker a last and probably dying survivor.

    The sting is when the speaker leaves the stage with this message: 'Arise young men fine ships to build; And set them north for Valinor neath standards proud as fire'. He'd do it all over again. Note the 'pride' in the line: for all the punishment, the sin is worth it.

    Why? There is a hint in the description of Valinor as 'lifeless'. This seems to contradict Tolkien's idea of Valinor as the home of the immortals. But it doesn't. Tolkien himself describes immortal beings, such as elves, as in a way inferior to mortal humans for the very fact of their immortality: theirs is the life of a perennial plant. It has no known end, and therefore no sense of a mission that has to be carried out within limited time. It is meaningless, vegetable-like. Mortality is a gift, as it endows humans with urgency and purpose. The realm of the immortals is 'lifeless' precisely because they are immortal and therefore devoid of the purpose humans have.

    So TVZ's message can be read as an affirmation of life, not despite its pains and inevitable failure, but because of them. We live, we suffer, we are always defeated; if not objectively, then by the impossible standard set by our early expectations. This is what makes us human; this is the edge we have over mute creation.
    dracineaon December 14, 2018   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain