“The Trapeze Swinger” by Iron and Wine

“The Trapeze Swinger” by Iron and Wine

Image for post

A lovely essay I stumbled on about life and death. God and love.

It?s about the meaning of the ?Trapeze Swinger? by Iron and Wine. I found it while reading the YouTube comments of a Gregory Alan Isakov cover.

If you haven?t listened to this song, I highly recommend it. What follows will mean so much more if you do.

?The Trapeze Swinger? by Iron and Wine (original)

?The Trapeze Swinger? by Gregory Alan Isakov cover)

?The narrator is the trapeze swinger. The circus is life. The narrator has died recently, and he?s caught somewhere between heaven and hell, in a waiting room for eternity so to speak. He is reflecting on the relationship that defined much of his life. And that?s why he?s a trapeze swinger. Trapeze swingers take part in an act that cannot be done alone. They need someone else in order to be the performers they are. And the partner he depended on is the girl to whom he is singing. But she can?t hear him, because she?s still alive down on earth. In fact, I like to think she?s sitting in the back row at his funeral service. She?s being viewed from heaven?s waiting room, as the narrator waits patiently for his name to be called. He wishes so badly she could hear him. To him, the circus of life now appears to be nothing more than a baby?s dream.

He died young. He hadn?t seen the girl since the summer after high school, but he had never stopped loving her. After all, they grew up together. They used to play together as kids! Then, in high school, they fell in love and started dating. Everything was great until the balancing act got complicated, and she left town for college. She ended the relationship that summer, leaving him and their hometown behind. When she heard the news of his death (a suicide?), she bought a plane ticket and flew home for the first time in a while. She wanted to attend his funeral.

The angels don?t understand what it?s like to leave the world. Because they live in a place where there is no death, where seasons don?t change. They?ve come to see humans passing through this place as another number to be processed, another sinner to be judged. Their handshakes are hurried. They don?t appreciate what it?s like for a boy to leave behind everything that mattered to him. To look back at life and see someone lit up by the city (of God), its light accentuating all of her beauty, and yet not be able to speak to her despite her apparent availability.

?Don?t look down,? someone has spray-painted on the gates of heaven. It?s a warning not to look down at those on earth due to the heart break that will ensue. But he disregards the warning and continues peering down at her from ?the window of the tallest tower.? He calls to her, but he is much too high to be heard. A specific memory comes to mind: a Halloween during high school, their faces painted white. They were ghosts that year. They drank; they pranked their neighbors; they embarrassed themselves, so drunk they forgot one another. Yet now that he really is a ghost, he pleads with her: never forget the time we forgot about each other.

She broke up with him because he was unhappy with himself. He wasn?t willing to trust the next trapeze swinging his direction. He wouldn?t let go of his hometown and reach out for the next thing, like she did. (Ironic because, as kids, they used to imagine adventures together.) Their future turned out differently than he envisioned; the ?frightened trapeze swinger? instead clung to what he knew. He relates to animals that chase after distractions, after things they can?t catch: the rain, trains, the colored birds above them. They run in circles. It?s futile, but who the hell can see forever?

Finding himself in a place where seasons never leave, he takes solace in the graffiti that promises the two of them will meet again. Maybe he can?t reach her now, but he knows that someday she will find herself in this very waiting room. And so he too will spray paint on the pearly gates. He will draw a boy and girl (him and her), God (trust) and Lucifer (fear), a monkey (who he used to be) and a man (who he?s come to be), an angel (her) kissing on a sinner (him).?

? thetrailorman1

1

No Responses

Write a response