To have and not to hold
So hot, yet so cold
My heart is in your hand
And yet you never stand
Close enough for me to have my way

To love but not to keep
To laugh, not to weep
Your eyes, they go right through
And yet you never do
Anything to make me want to stay

Like a moth to a flame
Only I am to blame
Ba ba da ba ba ba
What can I do?
Ba ba da ba ba ba
I go straight to you
Ba ba da ba ba ba
I've been told
You're to have, not to hold

To look but not to see
To kiss but never be
The object of your desire
I'm walking on a wire
And there's no one at all
To break my fall

Like a moth to a flame
Only I am to blame
Ba ba da ba ba ba
What can I do?
Ba ba da ba ba ba
I go straight to you
Ba ba da ba ba ba
I've been told
You're to have, not to hold

You're to have, not to hold
You're to have, not to hold

Like a moth to a flame
Only I am to blame
Ba ba da ba ba ba
What can I do?
Ba ba da ba ba ba
I go straight to you
Ba ba da ba ba ba
I've been told
You're to have, not to hold

You're to have, not to hold
You're to have, not to hold
You're to have, not to hold
(To break my heart)


Lyrics submitted by icy_fire

To Have and Not to Hold Lyrics as written by Madonna Ciccone Rick Nowels

Lyrics © Royalty Network, Spirit Music Group, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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To Have and Not to Hold song meanings
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16 Comments

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  • +1
    General Comment

    I take it as sort like an empty love. she has this person but she never sees them. I relate it to what Im going through. You have someone and you know they care but theres never a chance to be with them and express it. You are into the relationship more than they are. The moth to a flame line shows how she cant help but be attracted to him no matter what. She knows it cant be good for her but she continues to love this person.

    nodoubter90on February 15, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    anyone hear her chanting pieces of Shanti/Ashtangi in the background? I wonder what that means...

    Iantuitionon September 04, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I never heard this song properly until my Winamp 'generated' it... And I can say this song is one of M's best. Like someone wrote before I think this one is about being in love with some person or even a spirit or desire that you can never have and obviously you know that. 'To have not to hold' like allways to have the dream in your mind but never have an opportunity to touch it in reality.

    aueion May 04, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I can give an insight into "the who?" question. I remember reading the song is supposingly about Gabriel Byrne (the actor). There is a rumour that they had a fling. He has those 'Sean Penn' kinda vibes so I can totally believe it.

    According to lyrics whatever they shared it was superficial for some reasons. She obviously wanted more and couldn't help it. - He didn't, wasn't ready or maybe she just felt he wasn't suitable for a relation...

    I like this song, it's not that sad. Very mature, self-aware, gentle but truly bitter-sweet. And smart.

    en_coreon February 08, 2015   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I think this is about a relationship in which there's someone who's much more involved, in love than the other. This person is aware of this, she's aware that she is "to have and not to hold", she's just temporary and he doesn't mean to have a serious relationship with her. Though, she's attracted by this man "like a moth to a flame" and even if she knows it's wrong, she can't help it, she can't resist him. Somehow, this awareness of not being reciprocated is slowly destroying her... She's "walking on a wire" but he doesn't care, he won't be there to catch her as she falls. Again, she knows that she isn't the object of his desire. He kisses her but she is not the one he wants. He does nothing to make her feel important and loved, he never does "anything to make her want to stay".

    Finally, she knows she's the one to blame because she has been told since the beginning that she's just to havs, not to hold. Probably, she'd rather live this way than renounce to this man forever.

    Sorry for my grammar! I'm Italian and I tried to do my best... :)

    mrssalvatore97on April 11, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I love this song! it's so gorgeous & also v. sad.

    Maybe about forbidden love/wanting someone you can't have... She can be with him, but not properly...they're having an affair. "To kiss, but never be".

    She knows she shouldn't be doing it, but she can't help it: "Like a moth to a flame/Only I am to blame"

    missmeon December 10, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    This reminds me of being in love with my best friend.

    ChrisOfSpadeson December 15, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I always thought that this song might be about either Carlos Leon or Andy Bird.

    out of the skyon February 05, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I loved this song. One of my favourites in Frozen. To me, it's a song about a relationship that was never meant to be and she kept reminding herself in the chorus "You're to have not to hold"... or that she realized that this person is not feeling the same as she feels about a relationship so she concluded that he's someone to have but not to hold.

    limetreeon July 20, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    correction. Ray of Light album, not Frozen. sheesh.

    limetreeon July 20, 2007   Link

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