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There is a great Irish song 'As I Rover Out'. The 'Omnia' band made a remake of this song called 'Who Are You?'

The meaning of the certain sentence in this remake became a subject of discussion between my collegue and me. Could you please kindly clarify this enigma?

Let me citate the context lines:

"When can I return again and when will we get married?
When broken shells make temple bells, that's when we'll be married."

My colleague thinks it means 'when broken shells turn into, become the temple bells', though I think it means 'when broken shells make ringing the bell of the temple'.

Which opinion is true? Or, maybe, they are equally correct?

Thank you in advance for the answer!

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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about interpretation of song lyrics Nov 9, 2014 at 16:37

2 Answers 2

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Either of you could be correct as song lyrics are generally open to broad interpretation.

Let's look closer at the song, though. The song is about a soldier. The "broken shells" refer to the projectile. If we interpret the line literally, then we may imagine someone forging spent shells into a "temple bell".

However, within the context of the song, this line is most likely describing something impossible. Broken shells will never turn into temple bells, so they will never be married.

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"When can I return again and when will we get married? When broken shells make temple bells, that's when we'll be married."

Your colleague is right. The meaning is "When broken shells become temple bells", or rather are turned into temple bells.

Zairja's answer is spot-on regarding "shells" as "projectiles".

It might also allude to the general symbolism of "when implements of war are turned into something peaceful", often used in poetry and songs. See "Swords to ploughshares".

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  • Thank you, @Zairja! One might also recall Wilfred Owen's "shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells". Nov 9, 2014 at 16:16

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