0

There are such lines in the song "Eyes of the World" ("Rainbow", a British rock band):

Evil moves, evil ways With his back to the wall

and later

Evil takes, evil kills With no shame or concern

Can "Evil" be a subject in all these cases with predicates "moves", "ways", "takes" and "kills"? In all online dictionaries "way" is a noun, but if it is a noun, "evil ways with his back to the wall" looks very weird. Can "way" be used as a verb here?

Thank you for your answers.

9
  • 6
    Song lyrics are not always grammatical. But I cannot read ways as a verb, and therefore I read moves as a noun as well and evil as an adjective in that line. In the second line, I read evil as a noun and the two as verbs - a formal paralellism without a grammatical one : effectively a zeugma. Another possibility is that ways is a mishearing for something else.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Apr 10, 2020 at 9:35
  • Thank you so much for your answer. But could you clarify, why "his" is used in this case ("with his back to the wall")? Commented Apr 10, 2020 at 10:10
  • Dunno. Could refer to somebody yet to be talked about (cataphora). Why would Evil have his back to the wall?
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Apr 10, 2020 at 10:12
  • Note the capital letters starting 'Evil' and 'With'. That means they are on separate lines. It is a poetry/song lyric convention to start a new line with a capital letter. Evil moves, evil ways (new line) Without seeing at all. The earlier line is to be considered by itself (as a comment). Commented Apr 10, 2020 at 11:24
  • Evil probably has his back to the wall to provide a rhyme for "Without seeing at all" two lines later. Commented Apr 10, 2020 at 13:25

3 Answers 3

1

but if it is a noun, "evil ways with his back to the wall" looks very weird.

It looks weird, but it isn't.

Way / Ways (noun)

OED:

III. A course of action or behaviour; a means, a manner, a method.

16.a. A path or course of life; a person's activities and fortunes in life, esp. when considered from an ethical or spiritual point of view.

b. In plural. A person's habitual conduct viewed with regard to its morality.

2006 Sight & Sound Sept. 48/1 The message is: bullies must learn the errors of their ways by enduring a taste of their own medicine.

Move/ moves is also a noun = movement; a premeditated action; a gambit.

2007 The Doctor Who Transcripts - The Infinite Quest DOCTOR: Ah, ah, ah. Me first. (sotto) I thought Swabb would have made his move by now.

0

Evil moves, evil ways With his back to the wall

I would interpret that to be saying "Evil moves in evil ways with his back to the wall". "Ways" is not being used as a verb. It's describing the way evil moves. (And "Evil" is being "personified" here, hence the use of "his".)

-2

I don't think evil in this sentence is an adjective ''evil ways With his back to the wall'' Way (even tough it's apparently rare) has a verb version. 'Evil ways with his back to the wall ' you can consider this like '' Evil leans his back to the wall. ''

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.