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  1. Junior Member
    Student or Learner
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Spanish
      • Home Country:
      • Uruguay
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Mar 2014
    • Posts: 42

    all adrift fathoms down

    Hello, everyone!

    I'm here to ask you about a song's fragment today. It's from a band called "mewithoutyou" and the song's name is "Elephant in the dock". I'm pasting the lyrics whole here to give you some context since the bit I'm in doubt about is at the end and each song in this CD is a story by itself (and together they form one bigger story). If you wish to skip to the end go ahead, though, you just need to know it's talking about an elephant's hanging because of a crime he committed (viz. being guilty for the derailing of a train, and the great tragedy it's caused). It falls into the fantastic genre, you see, with some religious tints and metaphors here and there:

    Pillary stocks at the gallows tree dock
    The crowd grew impatient as the clouds threatened rain
    Elephant arrived at the Constable's side
    With her trunk locked in shackles, and her ankles in chains
    "All rise, all rise, his Honor presides"
    The Judge took the bench to the village brass cavalcade
    Elephant refused to swear the oath
    Said "I don't know anything about truth
    But I know falsehood when I see it
    And it looks like this whole world you've made"

    Good of our chaplain to sail Kalispell Bay
    And now down on his marrow for this old fool to pray
    "Lord, for sixty-some years I'd surrendered my love
    To emblems of kindness, and not the kindness they were emblems of
    Trammels and rings, with the strength of old strings
    And some hobble skirt spring, by the old problem caught
    Children, sometimes I think all our thoughts are just things
    And then sometimes think things are just thoughts"
    And the rabble rang

    "Hang! The Elephant must hang! The Elephant must hang!
    Hang! The Elephant must hang! The Elephant must hang!"

    [Verse 2]
    "A thirteen coil knot for the samovar pot!
    Scottish Oatcakes in haversacks each to its grave
    This mock trial can no more determine my lot
    Than can driftwood determine the ocean's waves
    Brandish your ropes and your boards, and your basket-hilt swords
    But what is there can punish like a conscience ignored?
    Yes, my body did just as you implied
    While some ghost we'll call 'I' idly watched through its eyes"
    And the jury sang


    I feel it stealing now
    All adrift fathoms down

    I take it he's referring it's been killed, the music makes it obvious. That construction, however, still puzzles me. Does it mean that all that's lost in the ocean at the end sinks and has some revelation, comprehends something (meaning death and implying it was lost religiously-speaking before it sank)? Or does it mean it goes on sinking fathoms deep into the sea / ocean? (Which shouldn't make sense since adrift means 'floating?) I'm quite confused.

    As always, your help is greatly appreciated!

  2. Key Member
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England

    • Join Date: Mar 2014
    • Posts: 3,588

    Re: all adrift fathoms down

    I don't think adrift necessarily means floating on the surface -- something could be "all adrift" (lost) and still be "stealing" (sinking) fathoms down (very deep).

    Nice song, by the way.

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