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Sawdust & Diamonds

This song is by Joanna Newsom and appears on the album Ys (2006).

From the top of the flight of the wide white stairs
Through the rest of my life, do you wait for me there?
There's a bell in my ears, there's a wide white roar
Drop a bell down the stairs, hear it fall forever more
Hear it fall forever more

Drop a bell off of the dock
Blot it out in the sea
Drowning mute as a rock
And sounding mutiny

There's a light in the wings hits this system of strings from the side while they swing, see the wires, the wires, the wires
And the articulation in our elbows and knees makes us buckle and we couple in endless increase as the audience admires
And the little white dove made with love, made with love made with glue and a glove and some pliers
Swings a low sickle arc from its perch in the dark, settle down, settle down my desire

And the moment I slept, I was swept up in a terrible tremor
Though no longer bereft, how I shook and I couldn't remember
And then the furthermost shake, drove a murdering stake in and cleft me right down through my center
And I shouldn't say so but I know that it was then or never

Push me back into a tree
Bind my buttons with salt
And fill my long ears with bees
Braying, "Please, please, please
Oh you ought not, no you ought not"

And then the system of strings tugs on the tip of my wings cut from cardboard and old magazines makes me warble and rise like a sparrow
And in the place where I stood, there is a circle of wood, a cord or two, which you chop and you stack in your barrow
And it is terribly good to carry water and chop wood streaked with soot, heavy booted, and wild-eyed
As I crash through the rafters and the ropes and the pulleys trail after and the holiest belfry burns sky high

And then a slow lip of fire moves across the prairie with precision
While somewhere with your pliers and glue, you make your first incision
And in a moment of almost unbearable vision, doubled over with the hunger of lions
"Hold me close," cooed the dove, who was stuffed now with sawdust and diamonds

I wanted to say, "Why the long face?"
Sparrow perch and play songs of long face
Burro buck and bray songs of long face
Sing, "I will swallow your sadness and eat your cold clay just to lift your long face
And though it may be madness, I will take to the grave your precious long face
And though our bones they may break and our souls separate, why the long face?
And though our bodies recoil from the grip of the soil, why the long face?"

And in the trough of the waves
Which are pawing like dogs
Pitch we, pale-faced and grave
As I write in my log

Then I hear a noise from the hull
Seven days out to sea
And it is the damnable bell
And it tolls, well I believe, that it tolls
It tolls for me and it tolls for me

And though my wrists and my waist seem so easy to break still my dear I'd have walked you to the edge of the water
And they will recognize all the lines of your face in the face of the daughter, of the daughter, of my daughter
And darling we will be fine but what was yours and mine appears to me a sandcastle that the gibbering wave takes
But if it's all just the same then will you say my name? Say my name in the morning so that I know when the wave breaks

I wasn't born of a whistle or milked from a thistle at twilight
No, I was all horns and thorns, sprung out fully formed, knock-kneed and upright
So enough of this terror we deserve to know light and grow evermore lighter and lighter
You would have seen me through but I could not undo that desire

Oh-oh, oh-oh-oh desire
Oh-oh, oh-oh-oh desire
Oh-oh, oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh desire, oh

Desire, desire
Desire, desire

From the top of the flight of the wide white stairs
Through the rest of my life, do you wait for me there?


Written by:

Joanna Newsom

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