What does The Cave mean?

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Mumford & Sons: The Cave Meaning

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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...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Feb 10th 2013 report

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


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Oct 9th 2012 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


    #3 top rated interpretation:
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    Apr 11th 2016 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.

  4. anonymous
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    Aug 8th 2020 report

    Hmmmm...I thought it was about an abused dog tied up in the yard. Glad to know it's not about a dog choking on a noose around his neck.

  5. anonymous
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    Jun 11th 2017 report

    I believe it's recovery related. 4th step through 7th.

  6. anonymous
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    Aug 20th 2014 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.

  7. anonymous
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    Apr 28th 2013 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.

  8. anonymous
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    Feb 28th 2013 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.

  9. epiclilboo
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    Jan 5th 2013 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.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  10. anonymous
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    Sep 28th 2012 report

    I always felt it was about addiction.

  11. anonymous
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    Sep 28th 2012 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.

  12. anonymous
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    Aug 16th 2012 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.

  13. anonymous
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    Jun 30th 2012 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.

  14. anonymous
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    May 8th 2012 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.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  15. anonymous
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    May 3rd 2012 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.

  16. anonymous
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    Apr 26th 2012 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. :)

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  17. nancheska
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    Apr 19th 2012 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.

  18. MDBishop
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    Apr 5th 2012 report

    Hit me personally as a sponsor-protege relationship between two recovering addicts. The sponsor "knows his call despite his growing fears" because he went through the same thing before with his own sponsor some time in the past, but is now there for the new addict just like his sponsor was there for him.

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