Cemetary Gates by The Smiths Lyrics Meaning – Unveiling the Poetic Duel of Life and Originality

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for The Smiths's Cemetary Gates at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning


A dreaded sunny day

So I meet you at the cemetery gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So I meet you at the cemetery gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

While Wilde is on mine

So we go inside and we gravely read the stones

All those people all those lives

Where are they now?

With the loves and hates

And passions just like mine

They were born

And then they lived and then they died

Seems so unfair

And I want to cry

You say ere thrice the sun done salutation to the dawn

And you claim these words as your own

But I’ve read well, and I’ve heard them said

A hundred times, maybe less, maybe more

If you must write prose and poems

The words you use should be your own

Don’t plagiarize or take on loans

There’s always someone, somewhere

With a big nose, who knows

And who trips you up and laughs

When you fall

Who’ll trip you up and laugh

When you fall

You say ere long done do does did

Words which could only be your own

And then you then produce the text

From whence was ripped some dizzy whore

Eighteen hundred and four

A dreaded sunny day

So let’s go where we’re happy

And I meet you at the cemetery gates

Oh Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So let’s go where we’re wanted

And I meet you at the cemetery gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose because Wilde is on mine

Full Lyrics

Morrissey and Marr’s intricate weave of jangly guitars and eloquent lyricism has long marked The Smiths as icons of the ’80s indie music scene. ‘Cemetery Gates,’ a track off their beloved third album ‘The Queen Is Dead,’ serves as a mosaic of poetic reference, a meditation on mortality, and a stern critique on the originality of art. It’s both a love letter to and a sly dig at literary romanticism.

The punchy guitar riffs and Morrissey’s unmistakable croon lure us into a melodious reprieve within the morbid setting of a graveyard. But ‘Cemetery Gates’ is more than its setting; it’s a battleground of wit, intellectual property and the quest for authenticity in a world posthumously worshipping Keats, Yeats, and Wilde.

The Sunny Side of the Graveyard: An Ironic Beginning

Opening the song with a ‘dreaded sunny day’ sets the stage for a bout of irony – what should be cheerful is instead oppressive. The sunny day contrasts with the traditionally somber cemetery setting, Morrissey pointing out life’s adversative nature. The pulsating guitar rhythm, almost upbeat, seems to dance around death, just as Morrissey’s words pirouette around the idea of living in the intellectual shadows of literary giants.

Converging to discuss the merits of dead poets epitomizes our search for meaning. In life, as in death, there lies a paradox – the brighter days force us to confront mortality’s shadow, much like how The Smith’s music often juxtaposes gleeful tunes with somber themes.

A Triumvirate of Literary Figures: Keats, Yeats, and Wilde

The invocation of Keats, Yeats, and Wilde is no accident. These literary figures stand as titans in the realm of poetry and wit, symbols for the standards against which we measure creativity and intellectual prowess. By aligning themselves with these poets, the characters in the song ponder their own creative existence – are they innovators, or merely shadows beneath the vast canopy of celebrated literature?

Morrissey’s preference for Wilde, the rebellious and witty anti-establishment iconoclast, against his companion’s choice of the more traditionally revered Keats and Yeats, not only draws a line in the cemetery’s dirt but further defines his own artistic standpoint. He aligns with originality and cutting critique rather than with melancholic romanticism.

Contemplating Existence Through the Marble and Stone

The act of ‘gravely reading the stones’ takes on a double meaning. It’s both a literal description and a commentary on the weight of history pressing down upon the present. The characters connect with those who have passed, empathizing with lives that once burned with passions, hatreds, and loves as fierce as their own.

Such musings lead to an existential outcry – life seems ‘so unfair,’ a sentiment universal among those who have paused long enough amidst the swirling chaos of life to consider its finality. The Smiths capture this desolation impeccably, provoking us to confront our mortality, our legacy, and the torrent of emotions bound within this collective human condition.

The Authenticity of Art: Morrissey’s Crusade Against Plagiarism

No Smiths song is without a sharp societal critique, and ‘Cemetery Gates’ exhibits Morrissey’s disdain for intellectual theft and hollow parroting. The strong admonishment against plagiarizing – ‘The words you use should be your own’ – underscores the song’s narrative on originality and authenticity. It is a clarion call to artists everywhere to embrace their individuality and produce work that is irrefutably theirs.

There’s a tang of personal vendetta in the lines – we can almost envision the ‘big nose’ that hounds Morrissey, the specter of critical scrutiny always lurking, ready to pounce on the slightest hint of unoriginality. This struggle with creative ownership and authenticity echoes throughout the song, and remains a relevant chorus in today’s culture of remixing and repurposing art.

Eternal and Endearing: Memorable Lines that Echo in the Halls of Music

Spinning the lyrical verses that stitch together this melody are phrases that resonate with the listener, long after the final chords fade. Lines like ‘You say ere thrice the sun done salutation to the dawn’ mimic the grandiloquence of the poets in question, fusing Morrissey’s wry humor with the song’s overarching themes. Repetition of ‘a dreaded sunny day’ imprints the irony into our minds, making it a perennial reflection on the balance of life and death, joy and sorrow.

And as the song concludes with ‘But you lose because Wilde is on mine,’ it’s more than a witty retort; it’s a defiant stand against the forces of imitation and a testament to The Smiths’ own quest for distinction. These memorably penned lyrics continue to captivate audiences and confirm The Smiths’ indelible mark on the tapestry of music history.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like...