Morning comes too early
And night time falls too late
And sometimes all I want to do is wait
The shadow I've been hiding in
Has fled from me today

I know it's easier
To walk away
Than look it in the eye
But I will raise a shelter to the sky
And here beneath this star tonight I'll lie
She'll slowly yield the light
As I awaken from the longest night

Dreams are shaking set sirens waking up tired eyes
With the light the memories all rush into his head
By a candle stands a mirror of his heart and soul she dances
She was dancing through the night above his bed
And walking to the window
He throws the shutters out against the wall
And from an ivory tower hears her call
"Let light surround you"

It's been a long, long time
He's had a while to think it over
In the end he only sees the change
Light to dark
Dark to light
Light to dark
Dark to light

Heaven must be more than this
When angels waken with a kiss
Sacred hearts won't take the pain
But mine will never be the same
He stands before the window
His shadow slowly fading from the wall
And from an ivory tower hears her call
"Let the light surround you"

Once lost but I was found
When I heard that stained glass
Shatter all around me
I sent the spirits tumbling down the hill
My whole heart is what I had left me still
She whispers words to clear my mind
I once could see but now at last
I'm blind

I know it's easier
To walk away
Than look it in the eye
But I have given all that I could take
And now I've only habits left to break
Tonight I'll still be lying here surrounded
In all the light


Lyrics submitted by Idan, edited by uncle11519

Surrounded Lyrics as written by John Petrucci Michael Portnoy

Lyrics © Capitol CMG Publishing, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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Surrounded song meanings
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31 Comments

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  • +4
    My Interpretation

    HI, I am Italian so may be my text will not be so perfect. Anyway, I've been looking for an interpretation of this song for a long time and at last I am glad my son let me know about this site. I love this song very much and I would like to try to do a female cover of it. In my opinion the most likely intepretation is the one related with addiction: may be addiction to alchohol, or drugs or may be simply be related to a a period of difficulties during which a person must make some choices and is afraid to takwe a positin. He lives in the darkness, sleep brings no relief. What he likes to do is wait --> wait because he has not the courage to face some critical situations. It is even easier to walk away than face the situation directly (no matter what it is). I do not understand why he has to raise a shelter to the sky, probably he would like to be still protected in his own solitude. However he decides to lay all the night below the weak light of a star --> probably this means that in his deepest consciousness he would like to open his mind and his attitutes to a possible change, bringing light and hope into his life. BTW I this that "she" refers to the star itself, amd not to a woman: it is a symbol of a new hope. HIs life is in darkeness but may be he is feeling that he is going to wake up from this unbeareable situation that reminds him the longest night. The night is not quiet at all: dreams are rushing into his head, sirens do not allow him to find peace in a deep sleep, and all the memories (of what we do not hnow, may be of his problematic situation) come out: typical phenomenon that occurs when one cannot sleep and is worried. Again the light of the star dances allthe time the above his bed. When he wathches out of the window, he hears the call coming from an ivory tower: again a symbol, the call comes from the star that invites him to let himself surrender to the light. And probably in his deeper thoughts this has always been his desire: but it is difficult to overcome the situation, and the changes from dark to light and dark to light probably represent the changes of his uncertain mind and attitude. The end of the tunnel once seems nearer once more far away. The reference to heaven probably reminds of a peaceful situation his heart is longing for, where mind is in peace, loeve surrounds everything and the sacred hearts will not be in pain. His heart will never be the same, because after a change, one is no longer similar to what he/she was before. The reference to the stained glass is difficult to interpret. The spirits probably are his own bad and fearful thoughts that he tries to send away. The only good spirit, that he will surrender to, is the star above him that is inspiring him words of wisdom: probably what he was thought to be the truth is no longer valid. In this sense his blindness is not a negative concept. Again he admits that is is easier to let things go on as usual, moreover he has done all that he could do, apart from taking the most difficult decision, that is break his habits and let the light surround him. Open his heart to a new life.

    luisyston October 19, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    I have a somewhat different take on this song than what has been written so far. It's a favorite of mine, and I've spent many nights pondering it's possible meanings. To me, it seems a story of a guy living in a self-imposed loneliness, who's wondering if he can/should leave it behind for the love of a woman (the "light"). There are many religious references as well, though I'm not sure I can explain them all. Here's my interpretation:

    "Morning comes too early and nighttime falls too late And sometimes all I want to do is wait"

    {Time is passing slowly, but neither sleeping nor waking bring any relief}

    "The shadow I've been hiding in has fled from me today"

    {The usual denial of his situation isn't working anymore}

    "I know it's easier to walk away than look it in the eye But I will raise a shelter to the sky And here beneath this star tonight I'll lie"

    {He's willing to let a little of the "light" fall on him}

    "She will slowly yield the light as I awaken from the longest night"

    {The woman will ease him into a new sense of love, after being along for a long time}

    "Dreams are shaking Set sirens waking up tired eyes WIth the light the memories all rush into his head"

    {He is letting himself fall for her}

    "By a candle stands a mirror Of his heart and soul she dances She was dancing through the night above his bed"

    {Self-explanatory}

    "And walking to the window he throws the shutters out against the wall And from an ivory tower hears her call "Let light surround you"

    {He opens himself fully to her love}

    "It's been a long, long time He's had a while to think it over In the end he only sees the change Light to dark Dark to light Light to dark Dark to light"

    {The meaningless passing of days}

    "Heaven must be more than this When angels waken with a kiss Sacred hearts won't take the pain But mine will never be the same"

    {Not sure I can say what this means. It seems to contradict what has already happened}

    "He stands before the window His shadow slowly fading from the wall And from an ivory tower he hears her call "Let the light surround you"

    {Once more, she asks him to let her in}

    "Once lost but I was found When I heard the stained glass shatter all around me"

    {My favorite lines. Overtly religious. The breaking of stained glass suggests the disappearance of religious influence from his life}

    "I sent the spirits tumbling down the hill"

    {The voluntary rejection of religion?}

    "But I will hold this one on high above me still"

    {He will hold on to the one "angel" who is real to him}

    "She whispers words to clear my mind I once could see but now at last I'm blind"

    {Her admonitions to let love ("light") in are obeyed, and now he is struck "blind" by love. Love is blind, etc.}

    "I know it's easier to walk away than look it in the eye But I had given all I could take And now I've only habits left to break Tonight I'll still be lying here Surrounded in all the light"

    {This last stanza is hard to fit. It makes me wonder if we are meant to believe he only imagined that he let love in, then came to realize he'd only been imagining or dreaming it. The tempo change at this point in the song might mean that he had awakened to his old plodding existence.}

    I really like this song, so I would like to understand what it does mean or can mean. Even so, having tried to write lyrics myself, I know that the consistency of the story will suffer when you need to make words rhyme or otherwise "fit." These lyrics might be mainly a stream of consciousness by Moore, without a consistent or cohesive story to go with them. It's still very cool.

    Anyway, that's my take.

    dave11on April 23, 2008   Link
  • +2
    My Interpretation

    Realization. Overdue enlightenment on a transcendental level. It's about that feeling where you've been in one state of mind, and then you suddenly warp into a new, preferred state. Paradigm shift, and the aura it brings. This sounds like the anthem of a person who has been under a very negative or burdening influence for a long period of time, and now they've finally broken away from that force which has kept him or her binded. It sounds like he could have been the one at fault for his initial condition being so bad, but now he's fixed things up and has gotten himself out of what was going on. Possibly, he is learning to love life and could have possibly rejected religion (which is what I believe is the burdening force [it is supported within the metaphors]). One of the more beautifully cryptic examples of Dream Theater lyricism.

    2006200720082009on May 22, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    I agree with Dave on this one, except for the ending - if anything it's a happy ending. He knows it's easier to run away, but he's been doing that for so long, he's sick and tired of it, "he's given it all he could take." He's willing to let her into his life, the "habits left to break" are the ones where he got so used to being alone. The return to the slower pace of the music can mean that he's done trying to fight it and is accepting it now.

    So now as he listened to her call from the ivory tower, he's now "Surrounded in all the light".

    wasp2020on August 04, 2009   Link
  • +2
    My Interpretation

    I've always felt this was about a relationship. Kevin Moore, the lyricist, definitely had things going on, listen to album prior, with Light Fuse and Get Away, and then the next, with Space Dye Vest.

    All the lyrics in my head point to it, denying that she's gone. And then at the end, coming to terms.

    This little bit hits hardest to the meaning.

    "It's been a long, long time He's had awhile to think it over In the end he only sees the change Light to dark Dark to light Light to dark Dark to light"

    RunOfTheMillon October 24, 2011   Link
  • +2
    My Interpretation

    I'm agreeing with a lot of people here; I think it's about a realisation of some sort, an awakening to a higher consciousness or meaning. Whether this is love, which I like to think it is, or something else, it is absolutely beautiful, and gives me hope since I am going through the same sort of phase. My interpretation: this man is in love, but he is either afraid of it or simply does nothing about it, but he ends up spending all his time thinking about it. Sleep brings no relief; he sees her in his dreams, and when he wakes up to escape her in his dreams, he begins to think about her again. During the course of this song, he decides that he's fed up with the way things are, and battles with himself over whether to confront his fears and give in to the light (love), or continue bottling it up. In the depths of his confusion, he turns to religion for guidance, but it fails him, and she remains the only thing that he can think about. Eventually, he begins to realise that, although it is easier just to ignore his feelings, he doesn't want to hide anymore, and makes up his mind to allow himself to be surrounded by the light. The line ''I once could see but now at last I'm blind" reminds me of the proverb about trying to fill an already-full cup; to embrace the light, he must first let go of everything, let go of his fear and doubt, otherwise he'll never truly be able. Finally, he confronts his fears and feelings, and now he just has to ignore the urges to take the easy route, because he knows that, if he perseveres, everything will work out.

    Lexoduson September 06, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I like how the song comes full circle.

    I love Dream Theater too.

    BTW, I have noticed that YtseJam has submitted most of these lyrics. Great job!

    AnotherBrickon August 30, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    This song is incredible...so emotional.

    I believe this song is about a man with alcoholism who wakes up one morning deciding to change after too many memories of his earlier life and happiness along with too many regrets of the poison dragging him down, and steeling his dignity, he sees the light and wants more than what he has.

    I'm willing to admit that with further analysis a less simplistic conclusion could be come upon, but I think what I have contributed makes sense.

    havana4saleon November 16, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    To me the song is all a big metaphor for recovering from alcoholism/another addiction; and spiritual enlightenment from doing so. The main reason fot this belief is 'now I've only habits left to break' - his addiction.

    The refrain ' I know it's easier to walk away, than look it in the eye' - i think he may be saying, it's easier to avoid the problem of addiction than to admit the problem and deal with it. He says 'The shadow I've been hiding in has fled from me today' - he is coming to the realisation of his problem, his mind is no longer in the dark to it.

    He says 'but I will raise a shelter to the sky, and here beneath this star tonight I'll lie' - to me , this means that he will allow his mind to think over his problem so that he may deal with it.

    I believe all the angel/dancing/light imagery is all to do with the feelings of enlightenment he is experiencing as he recovers from his addiction. However, he has not yet fully recovered, as shown by 'I've only habits left to break... tonight I'll stil be lying here surrounded in all the light'

    and I think the 'I know it's easier to walk away, than look it in the eye... but I had given all that I can take' bit may be about, he's tired of ignoring the problem, and giving away his life - perhaps, this means his happiness, perhaps his family, who knows; and now he is going to face the problem and work on it.

    All down to interpretation of course but after thinking about it, these are my ideas!

    oyasuminasaixon May 29, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I agree with most of the comments about it being about a possible death and a man can't shake the hurt. However I believe it is more about the loss of a love do to a break up. It can go both ways but the "ivory tower" reference leads me to believe it's more about a break up. He's not necessary waiting to go to sleep and not wanting to wake up it's the other way around. He can't cope with the reality after he wakes. He has given all he had and cannot take anymore so decides to walk away. The habits he has left to break are referring to his love for her he needs to shake. My 2 cents.

    Pac626on June 08, 2017   Link

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