The Manuscript
Taylor Swift Lyrics

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Now and then she re-reads the manuscript
Of the entire torrid affair
They compared their licenses
He said "I′m not a donor but
I'd give you my heart if you needed it."
She rolled her eyes and said "you′re a professional"
He said 'No, just a Good Samaritan'
He said that if the sex was half as good as the conversation was
Soon they′d be pushing strollers
But soon it was over.

In the age of him she wished she was thirty
And made coffee every morning in a French press
Afterward she only ate kids′ cereal
And couldn't sleep unless it was in her mother′s bed
Then she dated boys who were her own age
With dartboards on the backs of their doors
She thought about how he said
Since she was so wise beyond her years,
Everything had been above board
She wasn't sure.

And the years passed like scenes of a show
The professor said to write what you know
Looking backwards might be the only way
to move forward
Then the actors were hitting their marks
And the slow dance was alight with the sparks
And the tears fell in synchronicity with the score
And at last
She knew what the agony had been for.

The only thing that′s left is the manuscript
One last souvenir from my trip to your shores

Now and then I re-read the manuscript
But the story isn't mine anymore.

Overall Meaning

In the opening verse of Taylor Swift's "The Manuscript," we are introduced to a woman reflecting on past relationships through a manuscript that details a passionate affair. The lyrics describe a conversation between the woman and her former partner, where he expresses his deep feelings for her, offering his heart despite not being a donor. The woman, however, sees him more as a professional rather than a genuine romantic interest, leading to a subtle disconnect in their connection. The reference to pushing strollers hints at a future together, but this vision quickly fades as the relationship comes to an end.

As the song progresses, we see the woman navigating life post-breakup, feeling a sense of longing for her younger self as she recalls the days with her former partner. The mention of making coffee in a French press and only eating kids' cereal portrays a sense of nostalgia and regression, seeking comfort in familiar routines and spaces. She then shifts her focus to dating men her own age, symbolized by dartboards on their doors, possibly indicating a more casual and less intense romantic involvement compared to her previous relationship. The woman grapples with the idea of wisdom beyond her years and questions whether everything was truly as straightforward as her ex-partner suggested.

The passage of time is beautifully depicted in the following verse, as the woman reflects on the cyclical nature of life and the lessons learned along the way. The lyrics reference advice from a professor to write what you know, emphasizing the importance of introspection and self-awareness in personal growth. The imagery of actors hitting their marks and a slow dance illuminated by sparks conveys a sense of fate and serendipity, suggesting that every experience, even the painful ones, plays a role in shaping one's journey. The tears falling in sync with the music underscore the emotional weight of past experiences and the catharsis that comes with understanding their significance.

In the poignant conclusion of the song, the woman acknowledges the bittersweet remnants of the relationship encapsulated in the manuscript. The metaphor of a souvenir from a trip to her former partner's shores conveys a sense of distance and closure, as she revisits the manuscript to reflect on the memories and emotions tied to that chapter of her life. The final lines convey a sense of acceptance and moving on, recognizing that while the story within the manuscript may no longer belong to her, the lessons learned and growth experienced remain as valuable remnants of the past. Swift masterfully weaves a narrative of love, loss, and self-discovery in "The Manuscript," inviting listeners to reflect on their own journeys and the transformative power of reflection and acceptance.

Writer(s): Taylor Alison Swift

Contributed by Ella J. Suggest a correction in the comments below.
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Most interesting comments from YouTube:


Right - oh myword, oh my goodness, same!!!
It’s like I myself wrote this comment I feel the same way exactly
Much love to you and us all
We are here, we made it and now I am finally healing the way I always wanted and knew I needed to. Taylor has helped me along the way in my life, I’ve done work on myself too most of my life. But this album and the anthology too, it’s like each and every single part of my brain activated and woke up and is alive and I’m just myself again.
For the first time fully, completely in a way I haven’t been since I was I think 17.
Yet also at the same time the girl I was when I was 7yrs old and also 4yrs old.
Like we found each other in my own secret garden and it’s like finally coming back home, truly.
It is profound and I’m still not over it
Could say more but won’t here
But I was doing the worst
And now I’m doing better than I ever was🩶
Off the back of having my best year in 2023 (in terms of personally, mentally, stability, socially, my own growth in many way so far)
Yay thank you Taylor Swift, Swifties, myself - now, back then and since and for the future too.
It’s magical and remarkable to be at this current place.
Never thought I’d feel the way I do and it’s just kind of indescribable really.


Okay, THIS SONG. I can’t stop thinking about the build-up in the bridge! It's like "Dear Reader," in that there's so much allusion layered into each line. Here's my best guess:

“And the years passed like scenes of a show
The professor said to write what you know
Looking backwards might be the only way to move forward.”

Taylor has always channeled her life experiences—especially the difficult ones—into songs. We saw this with Midnights in particular: she looks at what happened in her past as a way of understanding the present. As she recovers from her broken heart, the only thing she can think to do to process it all is write what she knows: her experience.

“Then the actors were hitting their marks
And the slow dance was alight with the sparks
And the tears fell in synchronicity with the score.”

These lines make me think of The Eras Tour: a performance of kinds in which she reenacts her songs. The “actors” are the dancers on stage, who “hit their marks” (she uses this term in I Can Do It With A Broken Heart). The “slow dance” reminds me of the Lover choreography, but it could stand for any song of hers that is so beautiful it evokes tears from her fans.

“And at last
She knew what the agony had been for.”

Through her experience with The Eras Tour, celebrating her entire career of songwriting, she realizes that all her difficult experiences gave her the music she needed to bring her here, to this moment, to this time in her life. Not only has she made something beautiful out of the agonies she experienced, but those songs also brought all of us fans together.

“The only thing that’s left is the manuscript
One last souvenir from my trip to your shores
Now and then I re-read the manuscript
But the story isn’t mine anymore.”

The “manuscript” could represent this album (TTPD), but more likely it represents the collective body of songs about her six-year relationship with Joe—the songs, in a way, are all she has left of the relationship now. From this point, she’s accepted the grief and moved on. She still looks back on their time together, but now the story is out in the world. It’s not hers anymore; it’s ours.


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I love how this circles back to All Too Well and the short film. She’s closing the door on TTPD and all the painful relationships from the past and giving the songs to us to fit into our own stories. It’s beautiful.


So beautiful, I can't even put it into words 😢


I've noticed it too...
So wulnerable...But she said it before, that these stories are now ours 💔❤️‍🩹


I wondered if the actors hitting their mark was about ATW the film. But the first verse has to be about John. Then weaves in Jake and then Joe at the end. So beautifully sung.


​@@kirstymckenzie1253Yess!! I think it's about all too well


I’ve thought about it too.

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"the story isn't mine anymore" is such a beautiful sentence in this context 🤍 it must actually feel so weird to process trauma through art that is shared into the world


I literally imagined like she's giving us some manuscripts to keep it safe for her and then she leaves..




@@SG-pu3rx cause you are going through something hard so you make it into a song and now the whole world knows about it and I suppose it might even stop feeling personal

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