What is the meaning of the lyrics of well know song by Enya - May it be ?

May it be an evening star shines down upon you. [...]
May it be the shadow's call will fly away.

closed as primarily opinion-based by user180089, user66974, Hot Licks, GoldenGremlin, sumelic Jul 29 '16 at 22:54

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  • Lyrics interpretation is off-topic as primarily opinion based. – user66974 Jul 28 '16 at 8:03
  • This question is too broad. What is it that puzzles you in particular? – anemone Jul 28 '16 at 8:20

When we were trying to write songs, a friend of mine once pointed out that if you make lyrics meaningful then people will see the meaning and think, "OK, got that". In other words, they come to the end of the meaning very quickly. And the meaning may not be all that profound in the first place.

On the other hand, if the lyrics are vague and not meaningful in a straightforward sense, then people will start to impose their own interpretation and meaning onto them. This does not have a simple end point, unlike the genuinely meaningful lyric.

So the conclusion is: If you want to make people feel that lyrics are meaningful, it's best to make them not actually mean anything.

  • Or, at least, make the meaning hard to interpret. I always liked songs where the lyrics resist easy interpretation. They're the opposite of pop songs where every single line feels like it means something fairly obvious (and is usually a cliche), but they add up to the song as a whole meaning virtually nothing, by some sort of strange arithmetic. – Max Williams Jul 28 '16 at 7:47
  • That's why Deftones lyrics are so good. – Weapon X Jul 28 '16 at 13:44

It's poetry, and therefore it's meaning is subjective. On the face of it, "May it be the shadows call will fly away." is quite ungrammatical and nonsensical. It's called "artistic licence". But, let's have a guess anyway.

First of all, this song is from the film(s) The Lord Of The Rings, and so may be referencing story points from the film/books.

"May it be" is used in an unidiomatic way to mean, I think, "I hope that". Ie, "I hope that an evening star shines down upon you". The meaning of this is obvious enough and we can imagine that "an evening star" has some special significance to the singer and the person she's singing to. Perhaps it's lucky. You would be shone on by many evening stars, normally, unless it's cloudy or you've gone to bed. Perhaps someone more well-versed in Middle Earth lore can tell us the significance of the "evening star".

The second line is harder to interpet. If we say that it's "I hope that the shadows call will fly away.", then my guess is that "the shadow's call" is a reference to depression, ie something that calls you into the shadows, or calls to you from inside the shadows, which could be a metaphor for dark thoughts. So then the line means "I hope that your depression flies away".


May it be an evening star shines down upon you. May it be the shadow's call will fly away.

Let's examine the line and try to interpret from the text.

"May it be an evening star shines down upon you."

The language is poetic "May it be... down upon you" the mood conveyed here is one of beauty. An evening star is a symbol of love, a symbol of hope, of light. In the first part of the passage you have quoted therefore, I would say the wish is that the subject experiences good fortune, peace, beauty.

The second part of the passage you have quoted

"May it be the shadow's call will fly away."

Conveys to me, the idea of a lifting of death, "shadow's call". A shadow is an indefinate, ephermeral object, and it is also dark. Exactly the type of imagery used to portray ill omens. Juxtaposed with the first part of the passage which has already elevated our thoughts to the heavens with the "evening star" I find myself thinking distinctly of death. Aside from the features already mentioned, the fact that it is the "call" that is being wished away, heightens this sense. The Grim Reaper calling out to his souls.

The evening of the first sentence is potent too when I think back now having studied the lines. Conveying a sense of someone in the later part of their life, their evening years.

An interesting read- Thanks!

  • That link about stars actually says that "almost all" the stars that we can see are still alive, so I don't know how you can use it to justify the statement "most stars are dead". – Max Williams Jul 28 '16 at 8:58

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