Lyric discussion by stentorian 

This is a copy/edit/paste from another website, but still very enlightening!---

Both "The Wind" and "Catherine de Barra" are loosely based on the life of Saint Catherine.

Catherine de Barra tells her story from the point of view of the Roman emperor Maxentius, who was in love with her and whom she spurned for God. So he eventually had her killed. When he envies the road she treads under, that is because she is buried; the pillow her head rests and slumbers is the pillow in her coffin; her lover is Christ. It is quite possible that the image of her head on the pillow also refers to the fact she was beheaded. Maxentius has just enough of an ego to think that he would have won her over with just a bit more time, but too bad, she spurned him too soon and he had to have her killed instead. Oh, well. He'll just spend his life being a drunk.

In "The Wind", you get a bit of Catherine's history, mixed in with a little folklore appreciation of the story of Saint Catherine. The real St. Catherine came from a well off family, loved children, and was famous for the visions ("images on the wall") she saw. Of course, dreaming of torture on the wheel is a foreshadowing of her death, and refers to what is now known as St Catherine's Wheel. She ended up beheaded, after the torture on the wheel failed to kill her. She is also said to be buried on Mount Sinai, which could be the hill referred to in the song*; again, the celebration of St Catherine and her wheel is localised and the lyrics in this song sound as if they are coming from a folktale perspective, which often happens when Catholic saints are morphed into local legends.

Another connection between the two songs is the use of the image of the wind; one of Catherine herself listening to the wind blow, and of her wanna-be lover waking up to a wind that bites more bitter with each light of morning. (Interesting play on words with that line as well, morning/mourning, which the song obviously is, a lament, a song of mourning even if it is from the perspective of the murderer.)

The Legend of St Catherine ( If you want to find a husband, she's your woman, and this is the prayer you say - A husband, St Catherine A handsome one, St Catherine A rich one, St Catherine A nice one, St Catherine And soon, St Catherine

Sound familiar?

Abbotsbury, located in Dorset, has a hill-top chapel dedicated to St Catherine. PJ would have grown up knowing the myths and folklore surrounding this saint. The page linked above describes how PJ sang at the chapel. Another page on the site worth reading describes the legend of Saint Catherine (

According to the Abbotsbury website (, "St Catherine's chapel, Abbotsbury, was probably one of these. Her chapels are often on hills, perhaps as a reference to Mount Sinai. It is interesting that if one says 'Catherine' in Welsh, the word sounds very like 'Cader rhyn' or 'hill throne'. One can understand how merchants in the Roman period spread Christianity up the Altlantic seaboard, founding the Celtich Church in the process. Perhaps, when they mentioned 'Katerina', the pure one, to the Celts, their audience recognised the new goddess in an old one." So when PJ sings of a chapel built high up in the hills, this could be the place she has in mind. Again, there's a real pagan aspect to the way Catherine's story is told in the two songs, which is typical of the merger between Celtic folklore and Christian faith.

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