"Death With Dignity" as written by and Sufjan Stevens....
Spirit of my silence I can hear you, but I'm afraid to be near you
And I don't know where to begin
And I don't know where to begin

Somewhere in the desert there's a forest, and an acre before us
But I don't know where to begin
But I don't know where to begin
Again I lost my strength completely, oh be near me tired old mare
With the wind in your hair

Amethyst and flowers on the table, is it real or a fable?
Well I suppose a friend is a friend
And we all know how this will end

Chimney swift that finds me be my keeper, silhouette of the cedar
What is that song you sing for the dead
What is that song you sing for the dead
I see the signal searchlight strike me, in the window of my room
Well I got nothing to prove
Well I got nothing to prove

I forgive you mother I can hear you, and I long to be near you
But every road leads to an end
Yes every road leads to an end
Your apparition passes through me, in the willows and five red hens
You'll never see us again
You'll never see us again

Lyrics submitted by Aragorn224, edited by gifoverit, lorapferde, redefine88, epiphanize, MCquoy, Dichterliebe, dougGraves86, badgerbonegonepersuader, TheGreatIncog, Bajinganlangit

"Death with Dignity" as written by Sufjan Stevens

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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Death With Dignity song meanings
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  • +9
    Song MeaningDeath with Dignity is a powerful, emotive and ultimately haunting song those author is attempting to grapple with the death of his mother. The choral music at the end is a great touch. It is also the lead song of Sufjan Stevens new album.

    The author as his mother’s child is now alone and trying to find the best way to remember her despite the troubled relationship they once had (“I don’t know…”). He feels she should have protected him more (Amethyst, a symbol of protection). He is alone (dessert) but among others (forest)-one can imagine a funeral reception (flowers on the table). Also parts of the album were recorded in Oregon and Wisconsin. He feels a distance from the gathering but also the relationship itself (acres before us).

    The body will be cremated (chimney sweep). But her memory will remain, as will his searching for context (Searchlight). I think the line should be “Silhouette on the Cedar” Cedar is a traditional symbol of protection, endurance and spirituality. “Tired old mare” is his mother. She wasn’t perfect but was always there, and that gave him strength. But life is fleeting and answers are not always found (“in the willows’). She does leave a family (“five red hens” perhaps). She does leave a mark on him (aberration passes…”). The author knows he must move on and decides to forgive her, whatever her trespasses.

    What else can be done as all life ends in death.
    dougGraves86on May 28, 2015   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI'm almost positive "aberration" should be "apparition" in the last verse.
    Browns0286on June 20, 2015   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThat piano at the 2:12 mark.....
    viachicago99on March 26, 2015   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWhat a way to start an album. This song ruins me.
    iamnothing2uon March 24, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentProbably my fav off the new album
    Pauperon April 08, 2015   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningMakes me think of spring meadows with blossoming blueberries. Hauntingly pretty, but the lyrics seems to be random imagery - no coherent narrative is apparent.
    Dichterliebeon April 14, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBecause this album is Oregon-related, I can't help but think that the mention of the chimney swift might be inspired by the famous mass swarming of thousands of vaux swifts on September nights at Chapman Elementary School in Portland. They swoop around in the air and then suddenly all fly down the giant chimney to nest for the night.
    Waimeaon April 20, 2018   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI adore this song--I only wish it had been at the end of the album instead of the beginning. While other songs definitely don't express anger or contempt for his mother, having a song in which he explicitly forgives her at the end would've brought some closure to the album's whole narrative, at least in my mind.
    virgilius158on January 04, 2020   Link

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