Bastille: Pompeii Meaning
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Song Released: 2014
Covered By: Jasmine Thompson
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Many days fell away with nothing to show
And the walls kept tumbling down
In the city that we love
Grey clouds roll over the hills
Bringing darkness from above
But if you close your eyes,
Does it almost...
The title “Pompeii” gives away a lot of the meaning of the song. In A.D. 79, Mount Vesuvius erupted: “Grey clouds roll over the hills bringing darkness from above.” It hadn’t erupted in 1800 years before that, so the people had no idea it was even a volcano. The eruption happened so quickly that people were mummified almost instantly, which is described in the line: “In your pose as the dust settled around us.”
One of the stories told about Pompeii being buried during that eruption is based on discoveries made since then. When archaeologists uncovered the city, they found many works of erotic art, pornographic in a way unequalled in any other Roman artwork. According to Darren Hibbs, Pompeii was discovered in 1599, and the discoverer Domenico Fontana “was so shocked by what he saw, he didn’t believe it was fit to release upon the world.” In my own Christian background, it is commonly accepted that the eruption of Mount Vesuvius was actually a judgment upon a city so depraved in its sexual mores that God saw fit to destroy it, like he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah of Bible times. The lyrics refer to the sinfulness of the city in the lines: “We were caught up and lost/ in all of our vices”
This sinfulness is also referred to in the allusion made in the lines: “Oh where do we begin?/The rubble or our sins?” Where would the city of Pompeii best begin to recover itself—in removing the rubble and rebuilding, or in removing the sins that they felt had brought on the destruction?
I imagine that the literal meaning of the song, the story of Pompeii, is not the whole meaning, though. I can see it paralleled in romantic relationships—how we make mistakes that destroy our relationship, that bring the “walls . . .tumbling down/In the city that we love.” And yet, at times we can close our eyes, and it can feel as if nothing has changed at all.
anonymous Feb 4th, 2017 2:12pm report
when it says "but if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothings changed at all?"
the song is stating that though there are problems with his life, crushed dreams, failures, even if he tries to pretend that none of it is real, the realization that it is all true is whats really bringing him down
later, it states "O where do we begin? The rubble or our sins?"
this probably means that dan is debating: do I go to the root of my problems to fix it, or do I simply try to cover it up and pretend it never happened?
anonymous Nov 3rd, 2016 11:47pm report
In the beginning of this song, Bastille day-dreams about when he had a grip on time and reality. This day-dream makes him think about the work he had accomplished in his life. When he thinks about his accomplishments, he realizes that he hasn’t done anything noble or even worth his time. Bastille is ripped back into reality in the second verse of this song. He watches as his home and city are destroyed. The “grey clouds” and “darkness from above” directly represent the volcanic ash turning day into night and rushing towards the city.
In the third verse of this song Bastille recalls the beautiful beach town and it’s normal sunny days. He feels as though he’s in a dream, but then comes to reality again and question how he will get through this or how this will turn out not being as bad as he thinks. The fourth verse is about how Bastille was so caught up in the bustle of everyday life and how that blinded him from the true treasures of the moments of life. Then, he gives this idea up as the city is paralyzed by the ash falling. In verse seven he seeks forgiveness for the overwhelmingly many sins that he committed.
anonymous Oct 29th, 2014 10:04pm report
You may have to watch this video to understand the song a little better. Granted, on the surface, it's about the eruption of Pompeii in 79AD. However, when you watch the video, it takes on a whole different meaning. There's a certain lost feeling that Dan is trying to express in the video... about something that may once have been so pure, but has been tainted by time and other forces that he is trying to find again to regain and retain his sense of purity in a world (without that presence) has been overrun by demonic forces, hence the people with the blacked out eyes and the generally abandoned world. It's about how that loss is driving him insane within and is turning him dark inside, though he's doing everything he can to get back to that source of purity. The tempo of the video and the video itself takes on a more frenzied tempo as it keeps going up until the point where he's driving the car and it runs out of gas and he's noticing his eyes turning black (giving into the darkness within himself). At the end, he realizes all is lost and that he cannot regain what was most precious and pure to him. When he turns to the camera with his blacked out eyes, you can see the finality of despair on his face. So, in the end this song is more about a total loss and devastation within. The city is a metaphor for something once so amazing and strong that has been weakened and destroyed by a force that cannot be controlled and the utter devastation that it causes as well as the eternal hopelessness.
anonymous Jul 30th, 2014 7:29am report
Of course there is the very literal interpretation that the song is just singing about Pompeii, but I read it as a bit more general.
Everyone eventually comes to that point in his or her life when everything they know changes ("And the walls kept tumbling down"), regardless of whether or not you want it to. ("In the city that we love") And it just seems like life will be miserable because everything you loved won't be the same. ("Bringing darkness from above"/"How am I gonna be an optimist about this?")
But, no matter what, you can always latch on to the small details that never change. ("But if you close your eyes,/Does it almost feel like/Nothing changed at all?")
anonymous Jun 22nd, 2014 6:21pm report
Well, but if you close your eyes and nothing changed at all means evry thing is frozen in place. Great clouds roll over the the hills means the volcanic ash is coming down on the city
In you pose as the dust settles around us means you are stuck as you died, like a statue. This song is clearly stating a conversation between two statues. Pompeii as every one knows, got destroyed by a earth quake and the volcanic eruption. Where do we start the rubble or our sins means should we rebuild our town(after the earth quake) or dig up the roots of our problems and run away
The verse about the walls means the walls were literaly crumbling away.
anonymous Jan 7th, 2014 1:16pm report
Back In A.D. 79 in the city of Pompeii Mt. Vesuvius erupted the beautiful town was destroyed by the rumbling of the volcano and people lost many precious thing. The black smoke cloud covering the town as the volcano erupted. The town was covered in lava and the people that didn't make it out were covered in the lava to. I think some of the references in the song may relate back to this tragedy. "Losing the city they loved, The Walls Tumbling Down, Great Clouds Rolling Over The Hills Bringing Darkness Above," and relating the how the people in Pompeii lost things that were precious to them.
anonymous Jan 1st, 2014 1:03pm report
As stated by the songwriter, he watched a documentary on Pompeii, and how the people were trapped in the positions they died in. The song is what he imagined as a conversation between two of these people.
anonymous Nov 14th, 2013 11:55pm report
"Pompeii" is basically talking about how you would react if your world was falling apart. If you lost everything (whether it being certain people/friends, or literally), how would you look to the positive side about it?
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