What does High Hopes mean?

Pink Floyd: High Hopes Meaning

Tagged:   No tags, suggest one.
Album cover for High Hopes album cover

High Hopes Lyrics

Beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were young
In a world of magnates and miracles
Our thoughts strayed constantly and without boundary
The ringing of the division bell had begin
Along the long road and on down the causeway


    #1 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Sep 15th 2014 !⃝

    “High Hopes”, already we’re taken to place in our minds where fantasy meets fiction, where dreams meet reality and where attainable aspirations meet unfulfilled pipe dreams. David Gilmour takes us on a journey through time, emotion and bittersweet memories of yore with his fantastic imagery and his eloquent manipulation and mastery of the English language. He tells a story that is as old as mankind itself; a story that resonates through time and lives inside just about everyone; a story of how great it was to be young and if only we could go back to that time and stay indefinitely. Let’s begin our voyage…
    Beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were young, In a world of magnets and miracles, Our thoughts strayed constantly and without boundary, The ringing of the division bell had begun, Along the long road and on down the causeway, Do they still live there by the cut? (6)
    Immediately, we can see that Gilmour is taking us somewhere, but where? His description of where is rather ambiguous and vague. It seems as though he meant for us, the auditors, to apply this imagery to our own memories and fill in the blanks, as it were. And to substantiate this claim, it is clear throughout the entire verse that he is using a version of second person narrative mode in which he includes himself through the use of “we”. Also, the connotation of the phrase “a world of magnets and miracles” (2) creates a feeling of wonderment and magic that we all felt towards the world when we were growing up and were being introduced to new things and ideas. Gilmour goes on to illustrate this idea even more when he says: “Our thoughts strayed constantly and without boundary” (3). Then, as if childhood and the time for fun and games were over, the division bell begins to ring and we start going our separate ways as we enter into adulthood.

    There was a ragged band that followed in our footsteps, Running before time took our dreams away, Leaving the myriad small creatures trying to tie us to the ground, To a life consumed by slow decay. (10)
    In other words, Gilmour is saying that this whole experience is a never-ending cycle and when we grow up, there is always someone younger than us who takes our place as the youth of the day; this is the “ragged band” he is speaking of. As we leave, we run after our dreams before it’s too late and we’re too old. We are in such a hurry to grow up and achieve all of our dreams, that we don’t realize that our youth is the happiest time our lives. Although, we know we need to leave the silly things of childhood behind and become men and women, even though it’s so hard. If we don’t let go, we will slowly, but surely develop into ineffectual and fruitless derelicts. Gilmour then uses a serious sarcastic tone when he says: “To a life consumed by slow decay”. There is a sense of real bitterness when we think about the fact that after adolescence, we slowly decay for the rest of our lives.
    He then goes on to describe our feelings after the division is complete and everyone has gone their separate ways when he says:
    Looking beyond the embers of bridges glowing behind us, To a glimpse of how green it was on the other side, Steps taken forwards then sleepwalking back again, Dragged by the force of some inner tide. (18)
    After ending childhood friendships and acquaintances, we look back in our minds to memories of the way things were almost immediately after we abandon that chapter of our lives. We seem to know, as we let go, the best times of our lives are ending. We will always be looking for that “glimpse of how green it was on the other side” (16). Gilmour’s use of the word “sleepwalking” works to explain the fact that as we daydream of the past, reality eventually pulls us back to the present. The “force of some inner tide” (18) is a reference to the fact that this habit of yearning for the past is innate.
    Gilmour tells us that we actually physically arrived to that magical place in our memories, if only for a fleeting moment. This feeling of fleetingness is achieved by this stanza being the shortest of all. “At a higher altitude with flag unfurled,/We reached the dizzy heights of that dreamed of world.” (20) Then he goes on to wake us from this hypnagogic state when he says:
    Encumbered forever by desire and ambition, There’s a hunger still unsatisfied, Our weary eyes still stray to the horizon, Though down this road we’ve been so many times. (24)
    What Gilmour is trying to say here is that even if we were able to make it back to that time, we would feel as though something were missing, because now that we are adults, our motivation isn’t playing games and twiddling away our time; it’s to follow our passions and achieve lofty goals. We, nonetheless, will always look back to that simpler, more carefree time with bittersweet nostalgia.
    Another interesting element to Gilmour’s song is the fact that, in several places, he establishes that we are constantly looking for something that can’t be found: “Beyond the horizon” (1), “Do they still live there” (6), “Looking beyond the embers” (15), “To a glimpse” (16) and “Our weary eyes still stray to the horizon” (23). This gives the verse a sense of something that we can’t quite catch and can’t quite see and gives us a feeling of uneasiness or restlessness which mingles painfully with the overall sentimental tone of the whole writing.

    The grass was greener, The light was brighter, The taste was sweeter, The nights of wonder, With friends surrounded, The dawn mist glowing, The water flowing, The endless river,

    Forever and ever (33)
    At the very end of the verse, in the second to last stanza, Gilmour uses anaphora to accentuate the repetitiveness of the cycle. He starts each line, with the exception of one, with “The” and uses five syllables in each. Also, he uses epistrophe when ending five of the eight lines with the sound “er”. Then to top it all off he ends with a simple, yet, powerful phrase when he says: “Forever and ever” without a period, to indicate the ceaselessness and monotony of the concept of forever.
    If only we could stay young forever and be carefree until the end of time. There was a time when we felt that was reality, until one day 20 years had gone by and we were all grown up with jobs and responsibilities, stresses and worries, and a family with children of our own. If only we can make our children understand that right now, the grass is greener.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Sep 17th 2010 !⃝

    This song is about all things in our life that have passed and gone. We often ponder on those we have loved and lost and the places we spent memorable times.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Jul 30th 2011 !⃝

    It's about when you were young, before the bullshit of daily life consumed the life out of you, before the rat race took priority.

  4. Tim Morse
    click a star to vote
    Dec 7th 2016 !⃝

    It's how stupid we were when we were younger,actually thinking life wouldn't kick us in the balls and say,"here what you got. Deal with it stupid"

  5. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Nov 4th 2016 !⃝

    The song is a love song for his wife and about their lives together.

  6. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Nov 2nd 2013 !⃝

    This is the last song on the last Pink Floyd album. It's a retrospective on the bands career.

  7. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Feb 4th 2013 !⃝

    When i saw this phenomenal as well as unforgettable video for the first time,i wondered about it a lot and got some meaning out of it.

    I believe : This video along with the lyrics symbolizes the "Rich and Poor" relationship ! It portrays the daily hardships of the poor and grass-rooted people alongside the elite, lavish and luxurious lives of Rich people, in a clear way ! The "wealth" which should be with all people according to their efforts and hardships is not there ! Rich is dreaming of acquiring more wealth as their "hunger is unsatisfied" at the cost of the poor by crushing their dreams (jesters + flowing guitars)! The black dress guy with big fangs flowing up is the disorder symbol in the state ! It is an alarm to the Riches ! The big teddy throwing of the kid + ladies running out of the big and attractive high heels !!

    One of the guy (the rich person with the car) gets it and releases all his wealth (big ballons) and turns philanthropic. He visualizes the needs and hunger .. and spreads out whatever he has for the needy !
    As the wealth is evenly distributed the riches cannot control it (the table tennis ball becoming out of shape)..
    the "Division of wealth equally" is the message : the "Division bell" says it all, i believe ...

    i know you may not agree with me - But this is what is feel about the song ..
    Thank you
    Aniruddha - India

  8. Harry
    click a star to vote
    Feb 3rd 2013 !⃝

    We start life with wonder, even how magnets work. We wander from our birthplace as the division bell of life vs. death begins. We follow our dreams, yet sometimes yearning to be back to past highlights of our life. Always a band with imagination, although following in our footsteps, was trying to insure that we continue our quest beyond the present time, travel into the unknown and miraculous, not lose sight of our dreams as we break away from the mundane, decaying way of life that so many waste away.
    We burn bridges behind us, many times feeling we want to be back on the other side where we had good memories. Unknown forces trying to drag us back as our dreams take us forward. We finally reach the heights of that dreamed of place, feeling now as a conqueror, compelled to follow our dreams, feeling a hunger for more as we realize the infinity of it all in our search.

  9. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jan 9th 2013 !⃝

    I think ..this song has something...different in it .... it is a comprehesion of someone's life,all ups n downs,n still struggles to acheive his dreams.....!!
    Dere is a line i like too much 'hunger still unsatisfied' its true....and ends only at our death.....!!

  10. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Nov 12th 2012 !⃝

    This is just the band's biography

  11. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Aug 5th 2012 !⃝

    this songs is sooo good that i can't stop listening to it !
    this songs has a deep meaning ! it is about things one may have gained and lost in life!i mean it was written by Gilmour, who has previously mentioned that the song is more about his early days and leaving his hometown behind!

  12. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    May 30th 2012 !⃝

    Its about heaven.

  13. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Apr 26th 2012 !⃝

    No offense but it's none of what all of you are talking about.

    This song specifically mentions 'magnets and miracles' of you study ancient magick, alchemy, 'witchcraft', and the TRUE ancient ways off life (fire, earth, wind, water and spirit), you would know that this song is about ancient human civilizations who were FREE from government control/rule, but as time progressed we wanted to create a different world which only enslaved us all and made us forget the ancient ways; fueled by an unendless need for power and greed...

    More to come later, email is interested fliprail15@yahoo.com

  14. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Sep 27th 2011 !⃝

    Song is about the struggle the band had to establish themselves.

  15. Luke Galea
    click a star to vote
    Apr 13th 2011 !⃝

    It is showing the problem of drugs. Even the effect of the guitar like going high.

    In the beginning it describes how you feel with drugs even the songName shows this: High Hopes...

    In the video the man dressed in black opens the car boot releasing baloons(drugs). Then two people are shown playing tennis with a normal ping-pong ball. At the end the ball is the same as the baloons and he lost for he couldn't control the baloon(problem of drugs).

    Reading the lyrics will help you more understand and matching them to this problem.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  16. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Dec 30th 2010 !⃝

    If you know anything about the history of Pink Floyd as a band, it seems that the song is about them before and after the huge success of "The Dark Side of the Moon." This isn't fact, just something to think about.

More Pink Floyd songs »


Latest Articles


Submit Your Interpretation

[ want a different song? ]

Just Posted

Honest Mistake anonymous
What's the Frequency, Kenneth? anonymous
Where Will You Go anonymous
Devil Town anonymous
The Perfect Girl anonymous
Time anonymous
Next Semester anonymous
There Ain't No Getting Over Me anonymous
Miss Emily's Picture anonymous
Get Out Alive anonymous
In My Room anonymous
Proud anonymous
Glowing anonymous
Montezuma anonymous
Seventeen anonymous

(We won't give out your email)