Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic 'til I'm gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Oh, let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone
Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon
Show me slowly what I only know the limits of
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on
Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long
We're both of us beneath our love, we're both of us above
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic 'til I'm gathered safely in
Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love


Lyrics submitted by Fistan

Dance Me to the End of Love Lyrics as written by Leonard Cohen

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Dance Me to the End of Love song meanings
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  • +7
    General Comment

    The song title 'Dance Me to the End of Love' is explaining that something, anything that seems strong or eternal, even love, has an end. This relates directly to the song itself.

    The song is about the string quartet who were forced to play beside the crematoriums in the death camps. The members of the quartet were going to be killed after in the crematorium but were allowed to play music. This playing of music is joy and happiness to the members of the quartet, the last piece of love and joy they will experience before their end.

    The song lyrics themselves describe a man and woman who are dancing, yet the man is asking for the woman to dance him or help him to do many things. This couple are exactly like the string quartet. Both of these groups of people are going to be killed in the crematorium but, they can experience joy, whether it'd be playing music or dancing, for the last time until before their end. It shows that both these groups, predominantly the couple, are enjoying themselves through something they love and are forgetting all their troubles and concerns of their deaths. He is asking her to take them back to happier times and reflect on their lives and realise the happiness in their lives before their end.

    Key lines "Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin" - String quartet's instruments burned in crematorium "Show me slowly what I only know the limits of" - Only know limits of life physically so, he wants her to take him back to a happier time in their dance. "We're both of us beneath our love, we're both of us above" - our love is joy and happiness, they will die so they are beneath it, yet they are happy and joyful before they die so they are above "Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn" - wants her to take him back to an early time where they were young, happy and exuberant "Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn" - encapsulate this moment of joy before our death, even though we know the inevitable will happen

    Lucho23on February 28, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    When I hear this intense emotional song I visualise a very old couple, still together after many many years and still in love, dancing with eachother quietly.

    Non April 20, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    This is by far the most romantic song I've ever known.
    I love every line of this song, but a few stand out: "Dance me to the children who are asking to be born"--my knees go weak over that one. Or: "Raise a tent of shelter now though every thread is torn" suggesting they have few posessions but their love is enough to sustain them.
    I fantasize about re-marrying my husband just so that this can be our (second) wedding song!

    nursejenon February 07, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    i think this song is just about wnting love and not caring about what comes with it he just wants his lover to be there the whole time and he doesnt particular care what else happens

    joeosbornemusicon June 15, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    I think it's all of the above. It's about a lifelong dance partner. A young couple learning about life. Learning, laughing, living, loving, growing old together. A dance partner in the dance of life, until the music stops.

    The song is chronological: courtship, marriage, children, then aging and death.

    The last lines are:

    "Dance me through the panic till I'm gathered safely in" The panic is the process and fear of dying. I'm afraid, so hold my hand and dance me until I'm gathered safely in.

    "Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove"

    The naked hand is the flesh. The glove is a metaphor for the touch of your memory after you are gone. You may be gone, but your love remains. Your memory is there to dance me in my heart. Dance me to the end of love.

    Hoponthebusguson February 11, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    @MyQueen

    I will always love you! My queen, take good care of you, please! See you!

    rmbr771on December 01, 2023   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Only commenting to point out that this song is PERFECT. The depth of allusion, the layers of meaning, the beauty of the words themselves within the constraints of rhyme and meter (the quadruple repetition of "o" sounds in verse 2 ("Show me slowly what I've only known the limits of") is unadulterated genius) is all...perfect.

    Cohen is almost, maybe, the best songwriter/poet I know of. Among songwriters, only the Deads' Hunter, Richard Thompson and, more recently, GIllian Welch even compare. They're all very different, but have in common the one thing I most love and respect in an artist: they WORK terrifically hard at the CRAFT of their art. It's not just "a flash of sublime inspiration" or "unparalleled genius" (though inspiration and genius are surely present), it's being very, very good at what they do and working very, very hard at it.

    Rest in peace, Mr. Cohen, and thank you for all you gave us while here.

    Trollificuson December 11, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    very soothing...

    asnowfallon March 30, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    this song is about getting married. they dance "through the panic" of their nervousness but then theyre "safely in." later, after the wedding when "the witnesses are gone" they consummate the marriage and "move like they do in babylon." (babylon being the place of sin). then he describes their affection for each other outlasting any possession, such as their curtains. and at the end of the song, he repeats the verse about the burning violin to show that the passion from the beginning of the relationship is still alive. leonard cohen is AWESOME.

    sploogerellaon January 04, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I only heard this song very recently on a "Greatest Hits" album.

    It epitomizes the "Jewishness" of Cohen in the melody, the instruments, and the lyrics. Some examples, "olive branch." "homeward dove," "Babylon," "curtains," "tent of shelter."

    As sploogerella says it is indeed about getting married. And rather than being about a relationship that will not last it is the utter joy of a newly married man who wants to get it all, "the end" of love. It may well be that under the traditional Jewish system his marriage was arranged and he has before him now "when the witnesses are gone" so to speak, the opportunity to touch and explore and love his wife for the very first time. The curtains taht kept them aprt reminds me of the descriptiopn of the temple in Jerusalem that had a curtain that separated the Holy from the Most Holy and so, tonight as man and women they will go past the curtain taht kept them apart.

    It is a song with electrifying love latent in it, the wonder and expectation of a first time. And he is willing to love her and wants her to love him with no inhibitions, "like they do in Babylon." Another instance of the "Jewishness."

    I guess Cohen wrote this much later in his career. But it proves also that he was a very sexually active man. This is not just a song of eager yearning, it is a song of experience.

    Cool Lennonon April 03, 2008   Link

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