We got up early
And washed our faces
And walk the fields
And put up crosses
Passed through the damned mountains
Went hellwards and some of us returned
And some of us did not

In the fields and in the forests
Under the moon and under the sun
Another summer has passed before us
And not one man has
And not one woman has
Revealed the secrets
Of this world

So our young men
Hid with guns
In the dirt
And in the dark places

Our young men
Hid with guns
In the dirt
And in the dark places

Our young men
Hid with their guns
In the forests
And in the dark places


Lyrics submitted by stentorian

In The Dark Places [Demo] Lyrics as written by Polly Harvey

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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In the Dark Places song meanings
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7 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentJust thought I'd start the ball rolling. It seems fairly straightforward here - there isn't too many metaphors or symbolism. She's saying it straight - imagine getting up in the morning as a soldier. Wash your face. Put up crosses for your fallen comrades. Then go back to war again. Fairly heavy thoughts. Maybe we could guess at what she means by
    "not one man has
    and not one woman has
    revealed the secrets of the world"

    I think the most revealing thing on this album is that she doesn't really relent, an intense album with this the most intense song i think.
    2014on November 20, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOk - I'm still thinking about this song.

    IMO the first verse must be from the point of view of the soldiers (surely?). I suppose one of the few descriptive phases she uses in the song is the expression "damned mountains"? So why are they damned? Because they are cold and high? Because they are not alive?

    Emphasis on nature but without glorification is significant too although I'm not sure exactly how. Maybe the sun and the moon are just the passing of time, since the soldier died. Is summer passing before us a young man who passes before the autumn years?

    "In the fields and in the forests,
    Under the moon and under the sun
    Another summer has passed before us"

    I also though that maybe the repetition of the same line (almost) three times from slightly different angles might be from those who betrayed the young men (like Jesus).
    e.g. their country, their lover, society, their commanding officers? Is young men a euphemism for children?

    Also, does the "so" at the beginning of the sentence "so our young men hid" verse mean that the young men hiding with guns somehow "caused" by the revelation (or non revelation) of the secrets of the world?
    2014on March 26, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHi Erica, yes - what a great track, and album. I love your comment especially "goes back to what I was saying about all the wars throughout time - she's counting out all the places where there have been battles fought: in the fields, in the forests, at night and all day, fighting all throughout the fall, spring, summer and winter. And always, it's the young men they want to send."

    This reminds me of Jona Lewie - Stop the Calvary, where he says "I have had to fight, almost every night, down throughout these centuries".

    Yes, you are right about the mountains - they are damned because men are dying in them.
    2014on January 05, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI understand that most of the lines are probably about the endless repetition of wthe horrors of war, both thorough history, and for the soldiers fighting in them. I feel that these lines; "not one man has and not one woman has revealed the secrets of the world" could eighter mean that they are very, very young and haven't even lived their lives yet, but it could also mean that war is a great waste that leads to no revelations, and no real gain for anyon, be it humanity or the soldiers themselves.
    Untunedon April 11, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI understand that most of these lines are (probably) about the endless repetition of the horrors of war, both through history, and the day to day life of soldiers fighting in them. I feel that these lines; "not one man has and not one woman has revealed the secrets of the world" could eighter mean that they are very, very young and haven't lived their to the fullest yet, but it could also mean that war is a great waste that leads to no revelations, and no real gain for anyone (be it humanity or the soldiers themselves).
    Untunedon April 11, 2017   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretationit makes me picture guerrilla resistance type warfare, like this is happening near their home, i picture European forests and hillsides, perhaps war movie scenes where small bands fight back against occupying forces, they have to hide and fight by ambush, and for all the times this has happened, all the pain and misery caused, nobody has ever figured out the meaning of life, the value of life, how to live without killing one another in the process, not one man, not one woman, it's sad and despondent at this realization
    paul101839on August 11, 2020   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWho is Saved from the Grave?

    Age after age entirely dark hath run
    When not one dawn revealed a rising sun.
    Things change and pass, the world unshaken stands
    With all its western, all its eastern lands.

    The pen flowed and the fiat was fulfilled,
    The ink dried on the parchment as fate willed.
    Could the king his governors around him save—
    Or Caesar his patricians—from the grave?
    2014on February 19, 2021   Link

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