Chapter 19
Yann Tiersen Lyrics


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To live outside the pale
Is to wither and die
Beyond the pale there are only
Dressed up cavaders
They are wound up each day
Like alarm clocks
They perform like seal
They die like box office receipts.

But in the seething honey comb
There is a growth as of plants
An animal warmth
Almost suffocating
A vitality which accrues
From rubbing and glueing together
A hope which is physical
As well as spiritual
A contamination which
Is dangerous but salutary
Small souls perhaps
Burning like tapers
But burning steadily
And capable of throwing
Portenous shadows on the walls
Which hem them in

All goes round and round,
Creaking, wobbling, lumbering
Whipmering some-tunes
But round and round and round
Then, if you become very still
Standind on a stoop for instance
And carefully think no thoughts
A myopic, bestial clarity besets your vision
There is a wheel
There are spokes
And there is a hub
And in the center of the hub




There is
Exactly nothing

Overall Meaning

The lyrics of Yann Tiersen's song 'Chapter 19' describe the difference between living within and outside of societal norms. Those who live within the bounds set by society perform merely to satisfy others' expectations and are like "dressed up cavaders." They are wound up each day and perform like a ticking alarm clock and ultimately die like discarded box office receipts. However, outside of the pale, there is a sense of vitality, hope, and growth that arises from rubbing and glueing things together. This vitality is almost suffocating, but it is physical and spiritual, and it is dangerous yet helpful. The small souls that exist outside of societal norms burn like tapers, but they can throw portentous shadows on the walls that hem them in.


The song goes on to say that all things go round and round, creaking and wobbling, but if you stand still and carefully think no thoughts, you will see that there is a wheel with spokes and a hub; however, in the center of the hub, there is nothing. This nothingness represents the emptiness of societal norms, while the vitality outside the pale represents the hope and energy that arise from breaking free from society's conventions.


Line by Line Meaning

To live outside the pale
Living outside societal norms and expectations


Is to wither and die
Leads to a lack of growth and fulfillment


Beyond the pale there are only
Outside of society's boundaries there exists only


Dressed up cavaders
Individuals devoid of life, yet maintaining the appearance of vitality


They are wound up each day
Living a mundane and routine existence


Like alarm clocks
Performing a predictable and mechanical function


They perform like seal
Putting on a show or performance devoid of true meaning


They die like box office receipts.
Their death or lack of growth is predetermined and foreseen like a financial transaction


But in the seething honeycomb
Within society's boundaries


There is a growth as of plants
There is an opportunity for individual growth and personal fulfillment


An animal warmth
An intense and instinctual drive towards progress


Almost suffocating
This drive can be overwhelming


A vitality which accrues
A positive and self-sustaining force


From rubbing and gluing together
Through the connection and interaction with others


A hope which is physical
An attainable and tangible goal


As well as spiritual
Fulfillment on a deeper, psychological level


A contamination which
This drive towards growth and fulfillment


Is dangerous but salutary
Can lead to negative consequences, but ultimately beneficial


Small souls perhaps
Individuals seen as insignificant or unimportant


Burning like tapers
Burning with a quiet intensity


But burning steadily
Possessing a consistent and reliable drive towards growth


And capable of throwing
Able to create or inspire


Portentous shadows on the walls
Creating a sense of foreboding or importance


Which hem them in
Restricting or limiting growth and potential


All goes round and round,
Society's functions and structures are cyclical in nature


Creaking, wobbling, lumbering
Implies a sense of dysfunction or instability


Whimpering some-tunes
Attempting to maintain a sense of normalcy or stability


But round and round and round
Despite issues, society continues to function in a cyclical manner


Then, if you become very still
Implies a sense of introspection and self-reflection


Standing on a stoop for instance
An example of a momentary pause in one's routine


And carefully think no thoughts
Clearing one's mind of distractions and preconceived notions


A myopic, bestial clarity besets your vision
A raw, unfiltered understanding of one's surroundings becomes clear


There is a wheel
Reflects the cyclical nature of societal structures


There are spokes
The individual components that make up society's functions


And there is a hub
The center of societal structures and function


And in the center of the hub
The key to societal function


There is
Exists solely


Exactly nothing
The center of societal structures is nothingness or non-existence




Contributed by Gavin W. Suggest a correction in the comments below.
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