Circle – Exploring the Depths of Heartache and Honesty


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Mitski's Circle at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. The Elegy of a Heart ‘Buried Underground’: A Metaphor Unraveled
  5. The Dichotomy of Truth and Lies – When Honesty is Not the Panacea
  6. The Lingering Glance and the Objectified Self
  7. The Haunting Refrain: Beguiling Lyrics and Their Memorable Sting
  8. The Unseen Heart: Dissecting the Song’s Clandestine Message

Lyrics

There’s a lie that I told to you
That now I can’t tell the truth
And it ate me inside, so one soft drunken night
I slept with a man you knew

Then in the morning I walked home alone
And the businessmen saw my bones
With my skirt in their eyes, they remembered the nights
When they were that man you knew

You told me once
You were happy to have me
But I never gave me away

There’s a lie that I told to you

I would give you my heart, I think
But it’s up in a branch of a tree
It was only to tease when he climbed up the tree
Put my heart where I couldn’t reach

I didn’t mind, I adored him so
We forgot, and we left for home
And that was so long ago, now the tree it has grown

And nobody knows my lover is buried underground
Nobody knows my lover is buried underground
Nobody knows my lover is buried underground

There’s a lie that I told to you

Full Lyrics

Mitski’s ‘Circle’ is a haunting ballad weaving a tapestry of raw emotion, wrapped in a metaphor that challenges the very fabric of truth and deceit in a relationship. The song, subtle in its melody but profound in its storytelling, carves a niche in the indie universe where Mitski reigns as both poet and composer.

The lyrics of ‘Circle’ extend beyond the surface of confessional songwriting, touching on themes of guilt, secrecy, and the convoluted journey of giving and reclaiming affection. With an air of vulnerability that is almost tangible, Mitski invites her listeners into a sphere of intimate rumination.

The Elegy of a Heart ‘Buried Underground’: A Metaphor Unraveled

The heart, often depicted symbolically as the wellspring of emotions, is ‘up in a branch of a tree’ in Mitski’s ‘Circle’, an image both whimsical and poignant. This form of ascension reflects a part of the self that is deliberately kept out of reach, a protective measure against the pain of potential betrayal. Just as the song’s protagonist puts her heart beyond grasp, she asserts a control that is as much about self-preservation as it is about self-sabotage.

When Mitski sings of a lover ‘buried underground’, it’s an unveiling of the hidden graveyard where we bury our most treasured connections. Dead and gone, out of sight yet psychically omnipresent, these relationships haunt us, echoing the Sisyphean task of moving on from what has been wilfully concealed.

The Dichotomy of Truth and Lies – When Honesty is Not the Panacea

There’s an intrinsic lie at the song’s foundation, which is mention repeatedly, creating a ripple effect of dishonesty that invariably affects the self. This is not a simple confession; it is a confrontation with the complexity of lies. When Mitski croons, ‘There’s a lie that I told to you, that now I can’t tell the truth’, she is acknowledging that some lies are insurmountable barriers to returning to a state of innocence and trust.

The dogma that calls for absolute honesty is challenged here. It’s not just the betrayal of infidelity that’s grappled with but also the betrayal of one’s capability for truth. A vicious circle—where the lie told becomes the truth lived—casting an enduring shadow on the relationship.

The Lingering Glance and the Objectified Self

Despite the personal nature of the narrative, there’s an unexpected turn to the almost impersonal gaze of ‘the businessmen’ who see the protagonist’s exposed ‘bones’. This moment extends the story of infidelity to a societal reflection on how moments of vulnerability are objectified and consumed by external onlookers. Reminiscent of previous nights with the unknown man, these men perceive the protagonist not as a person but as a collection of experiences ripe for their judgment.

Mitski subversively turns the male gaze on its head, displaying not only how personal moments of weakness are voyeuristically invaded but also how society is quick to memorialize women’s perceived promiscuity while concurrently desiring it.

The Haunting Refrain: Beguiling Lyrics and Their Memorable Sting

The refrain in ‘Circle’ serves as a lyrical anchor and its repetition is a haunting chant that ensnares the listener. ‘You told me once, You were happy to have me, But I never gave me away’ serves as a poignant reminder of the dissonance between how one is perceived in a relationship and how one actually presents themselves.

Such memorable lines underscore the pervasive disconnection in the song’s narrative—the distance between the happiness one’s presence brings to another and the simultaneous withholding of one’s true self. It’s a line that reverberates with the weight of unfulfilled promises and the ghost of closeness that never truly was.

The Unseen Heart: Dissecting the Song’s Clandestine Message

Beneath the evocative story of deceit and the remnants of heartache lies the song’s buried insinuation—the unseen heart. The invisible core of the song speaks to the parts of ourselves we hide away, the emotions we submerge for the sake of appearance, and the unsaid words that we allow to define our actions.

Mitski navigates the turbulent waters of psychological transparency with the craft of a seasoned sailor. The song is a compelling examination of how our hidden selves operate covertly, our actions mere icebergs with the truth submerged out of sight, the full breadth of our emotional landscapes obscured by the surface tension of what’s revealed.

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