What does Plateau mean?

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Nirvana: Plateau Meaning


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Plateau Lyrics

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Many a hand scaled the grand old face of the plateau
Some belonged to strangers and some to folks you know
Holy ghosts and talk show hosts are planted in the sand
To beautify the foothills, shake the many hands

Nothing on top but a bucket and a...


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    Sep 13th, 9:52pm report

    I think it s about civilization targets always higher always better but all that staff is only fake. We Don t care what we do just looking forward for the next plateau even we know we could find only a bucket and mop. We are blind, We Don t know where to go and keeping seeking for the next plateau we make only mistake and confusion because the question is not where to go but how should we go


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    Aug 11th, 8:05am report

    Be happy yall don't know what a plateau is. It is using opiates and you don't get any higher with the same dose.

    bucket= spoon
    mop = syringe
    book of birds = higher than plateau

    other symbolism as well. but this has amazing rhymes and lyrics. meat puppets have done some great work.


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    May 13th, 2017 5:10am report

    It's not a nirvana song. It's meat puppets.


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    Aug 18th, 2016 8:43am report

    PLATEAU - my interpretation

    I'm going to take the approach of understanding poetry which uses four categories or lenses, if you like, for interpretation: Plain sense, tone, feeling, and intention.

    Beginning with the title "Plateau", a plateau is not a mountain peak nor is it necessarily that high. It is quite high. It also means a state of little or no change. This meaning is more negative. However, it is possible that the writer, having grown up in Phoenix, Arizona, may have had the spectacular rocks and plateaus in Monument Valley in mind.

    The use of "hand" instead of people is interesting. A hand can a mean a worker. "has scaled", obviously means has climbed. It has an added meaning of has weighed or measured. "The grand old face of the plateau" is clearly positive and expresses admiration and sounds like a challenge.

    The other references e.g. "Holy ghosts and talk show hosts are planted in the sand / to beautify the foothills and shake the many hands", must all be referential, all symbolic. The illusions of religion, and television. These illusions are unstable (can't built on sand), temporal (sands of time), shallow (not much grows in sand), cosmetic, decorative, entertaining, distracting but also gratifying.

    "A bucket and mop" are clearly for cleaning, but cleaning what? Again, this must be symbolic, so cleansing might be a more appropriate interpretation and that might be connected to the idea of the soul. Illustrated book about birds. Some kind of guide (like for example a bible) to help understand the world maybe as it is. Why scared? Hitchcock's film "The Birds" comes to mind but it might refer to there being too much information that is too complex. Birds are the largest living tetrapod species numbering about ten thousand. Birds are also a symbol of the souls of the dead.

    "Who needs action when you got words". What is this? A reference to complacency a reference to freedom or ideals etc being a dead letter? The state of being so caught up in discussions, thoughts and talk that we do not act any more? There is strong irony here. It might refer to personal life or to society. Some important things are just never done.

    Third verse: "finished with the mop then you can stop... and the work it was fun", refers to rest and satisfaction from some kind of useful action, however simple, however commonplace and unglamorous. Nothing is hard if done willingly, it can even be enjoyable to do something that is useful.

    Last verse: again, "many a hand scanning around looking for the next plateau". Sense of restlessness of dissatisfaction, a search for new challenges or perhaps, a wish to colonise new places. "However, others decided it was nowhere except for where they stood". Some people prefer to look into themselves and consider agitation and change useless or counter productive.

    "Those were all just guesses wouldn't help you if they could". The impossibility of really getting to the bottom of the sense of things.

    Tone (that is the music, especially the beat) is plodding and hypnotic. This gives a sense of relentlessness, labour, hard work, drudgery.

    Felling is communicated perhaps more by Kurt Cobain's voice which becomes very emotional, intense, desperate almost hysterical in the chorus. The feeling conveyed by his singing of the words is surreal almost absurd and of course enigmatic and obscure.

    The voice's high-pitched intensity in the chorus conveys disbelief and anguish. That is, after all the hard work of scaling the plateau what is found on top is so banal, so confusing, so unsatisfying. The voice returns to its normal pitch in the following verse when the work has been done and satisfaction is expressed.

    Given the amount of symbolism in the words, the intention of the song seems to be to wish to explain reality and interpret life. Is it a search for inner peace, salvation, knowledge, ideals, meaning, or perhaps even just a wish to get high? The latter is unlikely because there are just too many other symbols. The Plateau of the title now perhaps symbolises ideals, or at least something higher and more meaningful than the surrounding desert or foothills, something beyond the everyday, the mundane.

    Is all we can expect from life practical work, the need and the chance to maintain some order and cleanliness in our personal lives, in society? Is that all there is in the end, practicalities and some management? Is that life's lesson looking down at things from up above? Probably!

    Sergio Savioli


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    Jul 31st, 2016 7:40pm report

    I think it's about politics and it's men who fool all of us.


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    Dec 28th, 2012 12:29pm report

    I think this song is about working really hard for something, and then when you finally achieve it, all that's left is more work and real life. "You'll see a lot up there but don't be scared." Its about coming into adult life and the real world. Maybe for Kurt, it was about fame. Nothing there except a bucket and a mop, more work to do.


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    Jul 20th, 2012 7:15pm report

    its about people being bulshit sometimes.


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    Aug 16th, 2011 8:18pm report

    It's all about politics.


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    Aug 8th, 2011 8:57am report

    i think this songs just about being a good song to huff freon to. i know from experience


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    Apr 5th, 2011 4:33pm report

    i think this song is just about life itself.

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