Posted: 03 May 2019, 07:55
Hello Mariandrew & welcome to HL
The Sisters of Mercy Forum
if you imagine it's not a choo choo, then the whole thing makes way more senseMariandrew wrote:A friend recommended I post my interpretation of the lyrics here. (I had posted elsewhere too)
The author is mentally tormented by a break-up that is causing a new and unknown change of direction. This change in his life has given the sense of â€œtimeâ€� a new dimension to him. The reference to 'time' as both a f'riend, when we remember something positive and can relive it (last part of the text) â€“ and an enemy, when only pain and hurt is the result of time passing in front of us. The reference to this comes to life in the line 'passing slowly' and he literally wants to 'kill time' (here not just used as an idiomatic phrase) and that is contrasted in the next line with â€œlivingâ€� â€œbetter than living in what will comeâ€�. #
The 'time' aspect permeates the whole text not only in the settings which are spelled out thus : Present: waiting for a train in the present, Past: looking back both through letters and reported direct speech, and the Future: Waiting in vain. The â€œtimeâ€� theme is further emphasised in the many words that describe time such as time adverbs â€œwhenâ€� mentioned five times â€œsometimesâ€� â€œslowlyâ€� â€œstillâ€� â€œagain'â€� , and (shadows grew)â€œ no longerâ€� (two meanings here) and in the verbs 'waiting' (used twice in different contexts) and 'passing' (time) and then â€œin the daysâ€� and 'days had no beginning' and of course the title 'nine while nine' which may be a reference to a feeling of eternity that is associated with pain therefore has no end. There is a sense that the time is causing so much pain and a sense it is standing still, as the whole scene is set on a metaphorical train platform: A short moment of seeming eternity.
The text addresses life and death. The author is contemplating ending it all. The train here is an obvious method (better than living in what will come) but the train also is a symbol of his new direction in life, caused by the break-up with a person and /or people and it is a situation he has been in before shown here: 'caught up on this line *again*â€�, a notion of 'oh here I find myself yet again'. This is also a reference to the kind of downer you get when you come down from a euphoric state (drug-induced or otherwise):the line 'When days had no beginning when days had no end' â€“ reflects this notion. When we are in love it is like being on a high that warps time. His pathetic attempt to alleviate himself from the pain is to offer to drink to the dead under the water. He longs for the moment to be in that state himself. He feels he is drowned by emotions. Those who are indeed dead are luckier than he.
The â€œcost of the blood on the driven snowâ€� is both a Christian reference, but more so a reference to the fairy tale of Snow White when the evil queen pricks her finger and a single drop of blood falls on the snow outside her â€œwindowâ€�. This theme is in fact emphasised in the next line â€œAnd the lipstick on my cigarettes Frost upon the window paneâ€� . The snow represents purity and the blood life is itself and in this case, the snow has been carried away by the wind to another destination. Thisbis symbolic of a new life destination. the precious blood merging with the snow emphasising the change in his life.
The author looks back in time with longing. And when he reports the loved one's speech in the present â€œshe saysâ€� but what she says she has removed to the past through her referring to the past herself â€œdo you rememberâ€� and her speech is in the past tense â€œI * knew* no other friend but you were* wild". The reference to 'friend' here is a reference to the author and him having no one else to confide in. The reference to â€œwildâ€� is something that is out of control in the sense that freedom has free reign. This is what the author no longer has. He feels constrained in his current situation This is why her saying that he "was wild" means so much to him. He repeats the word â€œwildâ€�.
He is looking to the future and is contemplating a possible reconciliation â€œI am only looking for what you wantâ€� but he realises it is too late and he is on his own now â€œtalking to myselfâ€�. He is so lost and wrapped up in that relationship, and he has lost the sense of reality, that he can only say her name at the point of realising he is having a conversation with himself (instead of with a 'friend').
He realises he is walking in the rain. â€œRainâ€� is a reference to problems and turbulent times. This is what he is going through (it is significant that it is not snow, which then underlines the snow referenced previously is a metaphor just like the rain here). The line â€œAnd it's so damn cold it's just not trueâ€� means the author is asking himself metaphysical questions. What is my life? What it life about, I am damned/is there a way out? â€œColdâ€� here is a reference to the â€œdriven snowâ€� and means having no comfort in anything and everything is not what it once was before it was corrupted.
He then goes back to the solution of ending it all. The train can bring an end to the suffering. There is no other way out, it is all â€œin vainâ€�. Whenever that train comes this will bring some end to this torture or a new direction to his life , whichever option that is. The question is left open.﻿