This is from the Iron and Wine song "Innocent bones". As a non-native English speaker, I'm struggling to understand the exact meaning. It is thoroughly a grammatical question.

  • How every mouth sings of what it's without so we all sing of love
  1. Does it mean that, because everyone is singing about things they lack, "we" simply sing about love, and lack nothing? or
  2. Does it mean that everyone is singing about things they lack and "we" too sing about a thing we lack - love?

I think I do not understand the meaning of "so" in this sentence.

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the interpretation of poetry or song lyrics is off-topic.
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 16, 2018 at 0:15
  • 2
    ... how each one of us sings about something we lack/need ... and therefore we all sing of love. Jun 14 at 10:49

3 Answers 3


To sing about what we are without. To sing of something. meaning: a topic

To be without= to lack, to be without food.

Ergo, if a mouth sings of what it is without, it sings about what it lacks.

And here the songwriter says that is love. The mouth lacks love.

Presumably kisses,which can signify love in some way, I guess.

It is not the greatest line I have ever read......

The reason this is not great is: the mouth might lack teeth...

Anyway, mouth here apparently stands for any person.....that is called synecdoche in poetry. Using a word associated with something to name the thing.

Here,mouth=person, or person in need.

  • You didn't explain 'so' (= therefore) -- the writer implies that we all lack love.
    – AmI
    Oct 17, 2018 at 5:34
  • So is ergo=therefore.
    – Lambie
    Oct 17, 2018 at 12:33

If you think about a mouth as representative of an entire person, because it is the part of the body that has the function of communicating, whether by song or by speech, a "mouth singing of what it lacks" could also mean a "person talks about what they don't have".

When you use this wording, consider it to mean, then:

"How a person talks about what they don't have"

Talking about what they don't have is followed by "so they all sing of love", where so here is a conjunction meaning therefore, so (and I just used it here in the same sense) it means that they talk about love.

All together, this is saying "People don't have love so they talk about it."


Does it mean that everyone is singing about things they lack and "we" too sing about a thing we lack - love?

Yes, exactly. The idea is that every person's mouth sings about what that person lacks. For this reason, since we lack love, we all sing about it.

Literally, it says that it is the person's mouth that is without love; this is, one presumes, a figure of speech.

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