Pink Floyd: High Hopes Meaning
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High Hopes Lyrics
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
paratrooper1980 Sep 15th, 2014 9:53pm report
“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.
anonymous Sep 17th, 2010 9:55am report
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.
anonymous Jul 30th, 2011 7:13pm report
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.
anonymous Nov 4th, 2016 11:46am report
The song is a love song for his wife and about their lives together.
anonymous Nov 2nd, 2013 11:23pm report
This is the last song on the last Pink Floyd album. It's a retrospective on the bands career.
anonymous Feb 4th, 2013 2:55pm report
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 ..
Aniruddha - India
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.
anonymous Jan 9th, 2013 1:28pm report
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.....!!
anonymous Nov 12th, 2012 11:48pm report
This is just the band's biography
anonymous Aug 5th, 2012 8:30am report
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!
anonymous May 30th, 2012 5:50pm report
Its about heaven.
anonymous Sep 27th, 2011 9:24pm report
Song is about the struggle the band had to establish themselves.
anonymous Dec 30th, 2010 12:58am report
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.
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