He opens his eyes, falls in love at first sight
With the girl in the doorway
What beautiful lines, how full of life
After thousands of years what a face to wake up to

He holds back a sigh as she touches his arm
She dusts off the bed where till now he's been sleeping
Under miles of stone, the dried fig of his heart
Under scarab and bone starts back to its beating

She carries him home in a beautiful boat
He watches the sea from a porthole in stowage
He can hear all she says as she sits by his bed
Then one day his lips answer her in her own language

The days quickly pass, he loves making her laugh
The first time he moves it's her hair that he touches
She asks "Are you cursed?" He says "I think that I'm cured"
Then he talks of the Nile and the girls in bull rushes

In New York he is laid in a glass-covered case
He pretends he is dead, people crowd round to see him
But each night she comes round, and the two wander down
The halls of the tomb that she calls a museum

Often he stops to rest, but then less and less
Then it's her that looks tired, staying up asking questions
He learns how to read from the papers that she
Is writing about him and he makes corrections

It's his face on her book and more and more come to look
Families from Iowa, upper West-siders
Then one day it's too much, he decides to get up
And as chaos ensues, he walks outside to find her

She's using a cane, and her face looks too pale
But she's happy to see him, as they walk he supports her
She asks "Are you cursed?" but his answer's obscured
In a sandstorm of flashbulbs and rowdy reporters

Such reanimation, the two tour the nation
He gets out of limos, he meets other women
He speaks of her fondly, their nights in the museum
But she's just one more rag now he's dragging behind him

She stops going out, she just lies there in bed
In hotels in whatever towns they are speaking
Then her face starts to set and her hands start to fold
And one day the dry fig of her heart stops its beating

Long ago on the ship, she asked "Why pyramids?"
He said "Think of them as an immense invitation"
She asks "Are you cursed?" He says "I think that I'm cured"
Then he kissed her and hoped that she'd forget that question

Lyrics submitted by ksuwdboots, edited by chuckychan93

The Curse Lyrics as written by Josh Ritter

Lyrics © Songtrust Ave

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The Curse song meanings
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  • +9
    General Comment
    you know how you hear the phrase " i would die for him/her" from people who are in love? i think this is kind of an exaggerated story on that phrase... she literally swapped lives with him; she committed her whole existence to him, and then died, as all humans do. i dont think that its that he made her die, per se, more like he absorbed her whole life. i think the cursing she's asking about is his immortality.. as in, will you be here alone when im gone? i think the most beautiful part is her complete acceptance of her death. no jealousy that he lives on without her, but simply an appreciation of the love they shared. i think the mummy idea is just an anaolgy for true love, you know how you meet that one person who just sweeps you off your feet and brings you to life, and then basically gives you all of themselves, without hesitation. its a real gem of a song.
    xomomon April 28, 2010   Link
  • +6
    General Comment
    It seems that the mummy metaphor and associated symbolisms are simply a vehicle. Naturally the song works as the “The Ballad of the Mummy and the Anthropologist”, where the female is cursed, used up, and destroyed by her love for the male. But as I listen to this song, I feel something much different than the lament of the feminist. I feel the lament of all humanity, all of us, who are cursed by the horrible reality of losing the people that we love. The mummy then, is a man whose heart is lifeless because he has suffered too many deep losses. The mummy’s tattered rags symbolize the life-events that have torn his spirit apart. After a long time (thousands of years symbol) the mummy encounters the beautiful anthropologist and falls in love with her, awakening his heart once again to love. And he must love her in order to live. But in the act of loving this person, the mummy has opened himself up again for loss. With her death, she becomes one more tattered rag of emotional loss and psychological trauma that the mummy must drag behind him. The curse then is that, through no fault of our own, we may lose the very people that we love most dearly, and we cannot afford not to love them, we cannot turn away from the immense invitation of divine love. Indeed it is a real gem of a song.
    loinneilceolon June 29, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General Comment
    I know that this could simply be a story about a mummy that comes to life- but I have a hard time thinking that his lyrics are as simple as they are written... I think it has to be deeper for some reason. I think that the song is the woman's story. I think that she discovers him- and "the curse" is that she devotes her entire life to him- and dies with him being her whole life. She spends her youth when she is beautiful writing about him, discovering his story, and towards the end of her life when he was all she new- all that she was passionate about- she elaborates the relationship into something romantic. I think she looks back on her life- and instead of considering it wasted since she spent every minute with this mummy- she personifies him- gives him life- imagines a life where he loved her and was devoted to her in return. I dont think he actually comes to life and speaks to her- I just think she imagines that he does- so she can rest peacefully in her old age- content in how she spent her days. But- thats just my opinion. :)
    rb5191on April 20, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    beautiful song. the mummy is awoken by a woman whom he instantly falls in love with. he eventually becomes stronger, learns her language and becomes accustomed to the world around him. As he grows stronger, she becomes weaker and eventually dies. That is the curse. I love the ending. "she asked 'Why pryamids?' He said, 'Think of them as an immense invitation.'" its as though he is spelling out the reason why she found him and why he will eventually take her fame and life.
    johnathonfiskon February 12, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    Another though, in my opinion... I think the lyrics suggest the journey of love between two people (boat reference) I think that the man had previously been unfaithful, and had lost his previous love through his errors in life. This lost love is represented throughout the song as a 'dried fig' of a heart. Both for him at the start, and her at the end. I also think the Egyptian aspect is significant. The process of mummification ends with the 'weighing of the heart' where the heart is weighed against the feather of truth. I.e if you've been truthful and good, then you'll make it to the afterlife (or in this case true love and happiness). The fact that this person gets 're-animated' suggests that they had failed at this and are having another shot at life. The reference to the scarab beetle also relates to this process. Scarab amulets were often placed over the heart of the mummified deceased. These "heart scarabs" were meant to be weighed against the feather of truth during the final judgement. The amulets were often inscribed with a spell from the Book of the Dead which entreated the heart to, "do not stand as a witness against me." The heart obviously betrays the person in the song. I think that he fell in love with someone her knew, perhaps a friend, and his love for her grew until he finally revealed it to her. The reference to being cursed could be showing her understanding of his past unfaithfulness, hence her reluctance, requiring his assurances ' as they left he supported her' Despite these adversities, their love grew and both approached true happiness.. until his heart betrayed him again and he started to seek attention from elsewhere (affairs) This would fit nicely with the 'rag behind her' line, and the fact that she lay thinking about what he was doing, to the point it killed the love within her.(dried fig heart) The fact that he wishes she hadn't mentioned the curse suggests he wishes she didn't know about his past, and therefore be as suspicious of his behaviour (leopards changing their spots etc..) The pyramids are described as an invitation, an unknown adventure. Perhaps relates to the lure of other women outside of the relationship. Only some thoughts!!! Rob As their love grew towards true happiness
    robandrewon May 29, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    I think the song starts as she discovers him, as many others in many different eras of time have, and his curse is that regardless of how many times he is found and buried he has to watch as each person he falls in love with dies while he remains the same. (all while remaining a slight metaphor for losing those you love). That's my outsider, first impression on this wonderful piece of music. -Cole
    Featheryon April 01, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    The first time I heard this song (while watching the video)I cried. The song struck a nerve in me. My interpretation of the song (condensed) is that love awakens us from our protected shells and can enliven and uplift us. Second, that fame and attention can be seductive and addictive. It's easy to forget who and what really counts. Success brings with it a kind of narcissism that lures us into selfish ways of living. Next, her loss of energy related to age and depression drain her. She is alone. He has abandoned her in his pursuit of ego. Love can enliven a heart but lack of it can break one. Her heart has been neglected and has dried up just like she has. Her heart stops. Finally and sadly, it is through her death that he is reminded of her value and their love. Her instrument, which she hauntingly and rather sadly played, is cradled and placed with her. He is acknowledging his memories and love of her. To me, the curse that she asks him about is her growing recognition of the limitations of his ability to fully love. He hoped her love had cured him. But even though love can pierce through the heaviest of wrapped and still hearts; it must be embraced and returned to survive. Even if she did die from old age, she died all alone and depressed. She could not have felt very loved. She died of neglected love.
    rayleengaleon July 26, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation
    I take this song literally. I think the mummy's curse is that he's slowly sucking the life out of the archaeologist. That's why he steadily becomes more vigorous while her health deteriorates. The last line of the song implies that he knew this was happening.
    Ceruon March 28, 2013   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation
    The man is metaphorically woken up and brought back to life by a woman when she enters his life. He falls in love with her. She is wary (hence asking if he's cursed) but he reassures her because he hopes that they can be happy (hence saying he's cured). Eventually she awakens him enough that he begins to open up to the world again. He learns and grows from her, and they are happy together. But with time, focusing all of her attention on him takes a toll on her. She begins to deteriorate emotionally. She is wary again (and asks if he's cursed)--this time he is wary, too, seeing the effect he has on her. But he brushes it off and gives her an obscure answer. Later, he begins to ignore her care and thinks that he is strong enough to face the world on his own. He stops appreciating her (she is "just one more rag now he's dragging behind him"). The life is sucked out of her and she becomes "dead" like he once was. Their relationship ends. He reflects later and is haunted by what happened. He thought that she could save him--and maybe she could have--but instead, he ended up ruining her in the process. He remembers when she first asked if he was cursed and how he replied "I think that I'm cured." He remembers the doubt he felt, hence the line "Then he kissed her and hoped that she'd forget that question." The listener now knows that he never fully believed he could be cured. I think the mummy metaphor is used because he comes in and out of lifelessness. This is a never-ending cycle for him. Regrettably, nobody can save him from it, not even a woman he loved.
    emilyhalinaon May 13, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    ha, i actually really like your opinion rb5191. i'm listening to the album now on npr! every bit of it is fantastic!! i love the acoustic version of this song, but i was also pleasantly surprised by the piano and trumpet. breathtaking!
    johnathonfiskon April 26, 2010   Link

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