What does The Cave mean?

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Mumford & Sons: The Cave Meaning

The Cave Lyrics

It's empty in the valley of your heart
The sun, it rises slowly as you walk
Away from all the fears
And all the faults you've left behind

The harvest left no food for you to eat
You cannibal, you meat-eater, you see
But I have seen the...


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    Feb 9th, 2011 2:30am report

    I believe the title is an allusion to Plato's allegory of the cave. Carrying that allusion to the lyrics of the song it seems to suggest that the character of the song is oppressed by lack of authenticity and falseness. There are numerous references to oppression and ultimately the character finds that freedom is gained through knowledge. Another line reinforces the strength of truth by offering that truth can "refresh my broken mind". Of particular interest in the song are the lines: "So come out of your cave walking on your hands And see the world hanging upside down" where the relationship between perception and reality or skewed much like in Plato's allegory.


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    Mar 23rd, 2011 3:12pm report

    I appreciate the allegory to Plato's cave of ignorance, but I am pretty sure this song is about a very powerful relationship. I don't think its about a lover although it easily could be....I think its meaning is much broader (but I do equate it very much to my one ex and sing it to him when I hear it on the radio in my car! Gawd yeah I sing in my car! haha)

    It's really about the pain of choosing to feel the loss of trust, of being fully unclothed and raw. The object could even be a parent or someone that mattered so much but checked out because they were incapable of the experiencing truth and when there is a call to that by the subject, there is not only numbness to how the object affected the subject, but a detachment from thier own humanity...A loss of soul without even realizing it.

    The spirit, soul and mind of a human is a map not easily traveled alone. When we trust others, its as if we are holding hands on uncharted territory in the dark. Those corners best be traveled to together. When one in a partnership chooses self deceit over the journey....well I think this is what this song is about....

    The Noose is the trap of self deceit, and the reference to "my name" becoming true again references that they were slandered and humiliated so that their own name became a false representation of who they really were. Lies and slander. As if it used to be associated with honor, but the object of this song defiled the subject, even down to the utterance of his own name...and through the truth of experiencing his pain, he is able to reclaim it.

    It could be the betrayal of a nation, of a brotherhood, but it is about betrayal and deciept. Where the betrayor walks away and numbs themself to what theyve done and diminishes thier own humanity. The subject cries the truth to that person or entity, but knows the only truth is that the noose will be that wake up call. Its not a threat, its a call to deaf ears....this song is a not vengeful, its a last ditch effort to save the object in hopes they will listen. That is the angst in this song....its not anger, its frustration that I hear, because that love mattered to the person singing it, and that love was a true one - not a convenient one.


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    Apr 27th, 2011 4:55am report

    Its about a break-up but there are Odyssey references, read the whole thing. The girl in this is a compulsive liar.

    -"It's empty in the valley of your heart
    The sun, it rises slowly as you walk
    Away from all the fears
    And all the faults you've left behind"

    They went through a tough break-up. Her heart is empty, shes changed her ways and has "left all her fears and faults behind" he finds out there's more to her and realizes she never mentioned her fears and faults but they now come out.

    -"The harvest left no food for you to eat
    You cannibal, you meat-eater, you see
    But I have seen the same
    I know the shame in your defeat"

    Hes angry about what he finds out. She has been this heartless person and "you cannibal, you meat-eater" is referring to her as her turning into a man-eater(not a literal one) but crushing all mens hearts and playing with them, from him leaving.

    -"But I will hold on hope
    And I won't let you choke
    On the noose around your neck"

    The girl has become harmful to herself, whether it be partying, drugs. The singer has hope for her in the future and will watch out for her and make sure she doesnt kill herself.

    -"And I'll find strength in pain
    And I will change my ways
    I'll know my name as it's called again"

    He will find strength in leaving her and will change his ways. He can finally know the true him is, without her controlling and lieing ways.

    -"Cause I have other things to fill my time
    You take what is yours and I'll take mine
    Now let me at the truth
    Which will refresh my broken mind"

    He has other options and is going to move on, there splitting up. But he wants to know the truth about something because he doesn't believe anything she says anymore.

    -"So tie me to a post and block my ears
    I can see widows and orphans through my tears
    I know my call despite my faults
    And despite my growing fears"

    This part is referring to the Odyssey, he wants to be tied to a post and block his ears so he doesnt have to her what she is telling him. Shes continuing to lie. Hes referring to her as the sirens. "I can see windows and orphans through my tears." He's crying because he wants to believe her but he knows if he does he will be alone and not have someone who truly loves him(orphans and widows). "i know my call despite my faults and despite my growing fears." He knows this is his call for him to leave even with all of his faults and his fears of leaving her.

    -"But I will hold on hope
    And I won't let you choke
    On the noose around your neck"

    Once again he still has faith in her and hopes that one day she will change.

    "So come out of your cave walking on your hands
    And see the world hanging upside down
    You can understand dependence
    When you know the maker's hand"

    He wants her to stop all of her lies and see the world the opposite of how she thinks or sees it."You can understand dependence. When you know the maker's hand" She doesnt have to lie anymore and just tell him the truth.

    -"So make your siren's call
    And sing all you want
    I will not hear what you have to say"

    Another Odyssey reference, She continues to lie and he tells her to try and convince him all he wants but he wont listen.

    -"Cause I need freedom now
    And I need to know how
    To live my life as it's meant to be"

    He needs freedom and needs to learn how to live his life without her and in essence walks away.


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    Apr 11th, 2016 4:45am report

    It is about Chesterton's "St. Francis". Mumford and Son's likely would have read Chesterton being both well read and British. There are some very clear references to Francis. In Chesterton's book, Francis literally "comes out of a cave walking on his hands". The book says he see the world hanging upside down which is exactly what the song says. "Understand dependence when you know the maker's hand" is the attitude of Francis who found God in creation. "I can see widows and orphans through my tears I know my call despite my faults And despite my growing fears" is a reference to Francis serving the poor despite calling himself one of the worst sinners.
    "And I'll find strength in pain" refers to Francis recieving the stigmata and living a life of penence. "And I will change my ways" refers to the ongoing conversion of the Christian and Francis' particular conversion. "I'll know my name as it's called again" refers to God calling Francis.
    "I need freedom now" is freedom from sin.
    "So make your siren's call And sing all you want I will not hear what you have to say" refers to Francis rejecting worldly things.
    The hope in the song is the hope of salvation. The noose symbolizes sin and the death sin brings.


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    Aug 20th, 2014 8:31am report

    It's about grace and unity around fallibility. The speaker begins by illustrating the failings of another and indicates he'll "hold on hope". This is grace. Without any reason, the singer will continue to believe in the other mentioned. Then, in what I think are the song's most critical lyrics, he says, "But I have seen the same; I know the shame in your defeat." To me, this says, "I will continue having faith in you because I too have been defeated by my own faults." So, I think the song is about accepting each other and ourselves despite our flaws, or because we all have flaws. It's a really powerful thing to remember.


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    Apr 28th, 2013 4:10am report

    I recently went vegan and this song literally describes everything I am feeling toward others but mostly the ones I'm the closest too - I feel SO free now - I never expected to feel this way but the more I learn and read the more I realize harvesting animals is like an addiction for humans and since 99% of us don't do the harvesting, we just eat the meat and drink the milk in almost everything, we don't even know we have an addiction. This might sound super weird unless you have gone through this process before and for anyone thinking of going vegan come back and read these lyrics after your first couple of weeks and see what you think! I obviously relate the song to what I'm personally going through (as do most people) so maybe it's just about addiction in general - the writer is probably the only one who truly knows.


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    Feb 28th, 2013 2:54am report

    The Cave represents a dark soul. The hands and knees represents giving yourself to Jesus. When you see the light you realize the truth in GOD.


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    Feb 10th, 2013 2:53am report

    I think it's about someone finding the courage to leave an abusive, enmeshed relationship.


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    Jan 5th, 2013 1:24am report

    I don't think they're singing about a cave, I think that he has done something stupid and he has been hiding all his thoughts so know they ate both going to let it all go for the better and be together and just forget about all the darkness in their past.


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    Oct 9th, 2012 10:12pm report

    I believe this song is about a man battling with himself while he is fighting addiction. In addiction, you lose your soul, and your perception of yourself and the world are distorted. "Its empty in the valley of your heart, the sun it rises slowly as you walk away from all the fears and all the faults you've left behind." I think this is talking about the man getting himself back after abstaining from drugs and forgiving himself for past transgressions. I think the"harvest" was his drug use and the "food to eat" was his soul.

    I think the man in this song is having an inner struggle to find himself again when he says "I'll know my name as its called again." It's like he has two personalities, one who wants to continue using drugs and one who wants to quit. The one who wants to quit is talking to the one who doesn't throughout the whole song trying to convince him to quit. I myself am battling a heroin addiction, i am currently sober but everyday I struggle with it. I have to convince myself everyday not to use.

    The years that I spent using were an extremely dark time for me, like I was in a cave and could not find my way out. "so come out of the cave walking on your hands, and see the world that's hanging upside down, you'll understand dependence when you know the makers hand." Instead of depending on drugs to get me through each day I have been depending on positive thinking and my faith in a higher power.

    Addiction is a bitch and I wouldn't wish what I'm going through on my worst enemy. One of the things that help me get through each day is my love of music. When I get down I listen to music. This song has become the first one I play, I've listened to it 1,000+ times and I still get goose bumps and occasionally tear up when I hear it. I'm not sure if I'm right about my interpretation but I'm gonna continue to believe that I am. Thanks for reading


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    Sep 28th, 2012 9:38pm report

    I always felt it was about addiction.


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    Sep 28th, 2012 9:14am report

    I'm pretty sure that the heartless girl actually is killing herself (literally or figuratively (e.g. killing her habit of breaking men's hearts), but more likely the latter), and the narrator is simply trying to make it quick and painless for her.
    "But I will hold on hope
    And I won't let you choke
    On the noose around your neck"

    For those of you who don't know, being hanged is allegedly painless and instantaneous because the neck snaps with the weight of the body on it, EXCEPT for when the noose kills the victim instantly, in which case they are choking and suffering a slow, very painful death. So perhaps the narrator is simply trying to help the girl 'kill' her past self and move on with her life to be caring, true, etc.


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    Aug 16th, 2012 8:08pm report

    this is def. about drug addiction... 2 lovers who both have a drug addiction, but one cleaned up and left, but tries to help and will hold on hope that the other wil eventually see what he does now.


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    Jun 30th, 2012 6:26pm report

    Having trouble with drugs in the past, and just recently finding someone who is just like me we've been helping each other not give into drugs.
    The way I interpret this song is we're all in our cave of shame, defeat, addiction and bad habits, and we stay in there. We're all ultimately responsible for our own death. "And I won't let you choke on that noose around your neck" Kind of like a slow suicide from all the self inflicted harm we do to ourselves over the years. But then it only takes one person to come and bring you out of the cave, fix your mind, and support you no matter what not allowing us to hang ourselves. That person gives us hope, and both lives end up changing "and I will change my ways" due to the relationship built between the two people. I think ultimately this song is about that person who comes into your life and saves you from the slow death you were giving yourself.


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    May 8th, 2012 5:05am report

    the song is about the world today and how we treat orphans and widows. we are out of balance hence the hanging upside down reference. it speaks of a person who has chosen to come out of the cave of ignorance and show people where there imbalance is and how their very own thoughts and actions are creating the turmoil we see. ghandi said i have so much forgiveness for the world because the very same demons that plague it have run through my own heart. the song mentions the speakers faults and fears which are the very things he is warning against. so he must block his ears because he wants freedom now and knows he must continue to believe we can overcome even though those who are around him dont believe and he realizes the world is a mirror reflecting himself back to him.


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    May 3rd, 2012 5:17am report

    This song is simple; it is about a man who is willing to face reality, while the person he is singing to is not.

    These themes are present throughout the song. He wants to be "let at the truth" while being tied to a post and seeing harsh reality- widows and orphans- which the other subject is in denial of.

    The speaker has experienced the life of denial, he "knows the shame" in the defeat of denial, but is now beyond that he has "other things to fill my time".

    He knows it is painful to see the truth- "I will find strength in pain", but he wants to see it nonetheless, as it will "refresh my broken mind".
    Unlike the other in the song. He now wants to answer to his name- to who he really is, unlike the other in the song, who is still in denial of himself.

    He has changed his ways of denial, and hopes the other will do so as well. He is willing to help him, as evidenced by the phrase "And I will will hold on hope, and I won't let you choke on the noose around your neck". He does not want the other person to suffer and die in denial.

    Even when the other person comes out of his cave to see reality, it is still distorted by the fact that he sees the world upside down and refuses to accept the way things are.

    The allusion to the Odyssey; "so make your sirens call..." refers to the temptation felt by the singer toward the life of denial which the other lives in. It is an easier life, one where he does not have to face the hard truths and face pain. it is difficult to deny that life, as difficult as sailors facing the Sirens in ancient Greece.


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    Apr 26th, 2012 4:24am report

    All great art is made so by multiple interpretations.... And an open ended ambiguous meaning that at the same time is perfectly poignant to the interpretation of the listeners ear. From someone who still struggles w alcohol abuse and is indeterminate about the extent of his problem AND has been through AA 2x but felt like I didn't fit in because the folks there God bless them seemed so much more at a "bottome" than I was- I must say this song to me screams of the process they a spouse of recovery- the thing I miss most about AA- the teaching of a less self centered life---- to me this song is quite on target with that and Inwouldnt be surprised if one of the fellows wrote this song about recovery. For those who doubt that- I might suggest trying to identify a few bands in the history of RnR that didnt have a member struggling w substance abuse. :)


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    Apr 19th, 2012 4:10am report

    I really like the breakup analogy that was written 4/27/11. I agree with what many of you have written, that there's a parallel between "The Cave" lyrics and Plato's cave (and Homer's Odyssey). But for some reason, every time I hear this song, I think of a younger man trying to rescue his father from a crippling disease that robs the mind--Alzheimer's or another type of dementia. In his journey to help his father, the son learns how to rescue himself. My sister experienced some of this with my mother...my mom's demise was heartbreaking, so to help us "heal" from that experience, I'm thinking of penning a short story about dementia and how it affected three generations of our family.

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