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Lyric Analysis

Lyrical Analysis on "The Longest Day" By Iron Maiden
by

Tristan Hagedorn

on 23 October 2012

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Transcript of Lyric Analysis

The Longest Day
Iron Maiden fdsfdsgd "In the gloom the gathering storm abates" “The gathering storm abates” means the battle swiftly approaches. The storm during this time also prevented the aircraft from protecting all the men in the boats. "In the ships gimlet eyes await" “Gimlet eyes await”- the penetrating and fearful eyes of the soldiers. “Gimlet eyes await”- the penetrating and fearful eyes of the soldiers. In the ships gimlet eyes await The call to arms to hammer at the gates (foreshadowing) - “Hammer at the gates”- invading Normandy. More specifically, attacking Omaha beach.
- “To blow them wide throw evil to its fate”- allied nations attack many critical German locations To blow them wide throw evil to its fate All summers long the drills to build the machine
To turn men from flesh and blood to steel From paper soldiers to bodies on the beach
From summer sands to Armageddon's reach - ”All summers long the drills to build the machine” is relatively self explanatory- Preparing for the war. The same applies to the second line.
-The soldiers are more tools than human beings.
-”From paper soldiers to bodies on the beach” presented a few different interpretations. Perhaps, since in the previous lines they are describing the training and preparing for the war, they are representing the transition from training to reality- from shooting targets to actually killing people. Another theory was that those soldiers that were not “steel” were the ones that ended up dead on the beach. My last, and perhaps strongest interpretation was that even after the relentless and ample training that the soldiers received, it did not make them invincible, and that even the strongest and most advanced among us aren't bulletproof.

Overlord, your master not your god
The enemy coast dawning grey with scud These wretched souls puking, shaking fear To take a bullet for those who sent them here The world's alight, the cliffs erupt in flame (imagery)
No escape, remorseless shrapnel rains (personification)
Drowning men no chance for a warrior's fate
A choking death enter hell's gate

Basically all these lines describe the beginning of the battle: “the cliffs erupt in flame”, “remorseless shrapnel rains”, “drowning men”. However, one of the lines did have elements that stood out: “No chance for a warriors fate” brings us back to the lines “to turn men from flesh and blood to steel” and “from paper soldiers to bodies on the beach”. This is describing that the chances of death were far greater than those of prevailment, and that even after all of the training and hardships endured by each man to get there, many must die to quench death and wars demanding embrace. Sliding we go, only fear on our side
To the edge of the wire, and we rush with the tide
Oh the water is red,
with the blood of the dead
But I'm still alive, pray to God I survive

This entire stanza describes the soldiers disembarking and approaching the shore, “rushing with the tide” and “sliding as they go” to find cover and avoid the merciless German buzzsaws. “Oh the water is red, with the blood of the dead” obviously depicts the many fallen soldiers that were slain in the waters depths. Sliding we go, only fear on our side
To the edge of the wire,
and we rush with the tide

This entire stanza describes the soldiers disembarking and approaching the shore, “rushing with the tide” and “sliding as they go” to find cover and avoid the merciless german buzzsaws. “Oh the water is red, with the blood of the dead” obviously depicts the many fallen soldiers that were slain in the waters depths. Oh the water is red, with the blood of the dead But I'm still alive, pray to God I survive How long on this Longest Day Til we finally make it through
("longest day"-oxymoron)

“How long on this longest day, til we finally make it through” depicts the abhorrent and hellish conditions that had to be endured by each soldier just to see another minute of their lives. Of course, the conditions of a day do not alter the length of it, however, experiencing such ample amounts of excitement and desperation in such a short period of time would falter the discernment of anyone who had to cope with these circumstances. The rising dead, faces bloated torn They are relieved, the living wait their turn Your number's up, the bullet's got your name
You still go on, to hell and back again "The rising dead, faces bloated torn
They are relieved, the living wait their turn” Is describing the wounded men on the battlefield, dying slowly and painfully, death being their final and facile reconciliation, and how it is only a matter of time before the still living endure the same hardship. “Your number's up, the bullet's got your name
You still go on, to hell and back again” proves that even through determination and victory, those that survived still had to go “to hell and back again”- watching their comrades die in their arms, swimming in the blood of ally and foe alike, and uncontrollable and unalterable mistakes in the disorientation of battle, costing the lives of many in exchange for their own.

The warrior tombs, lie open for us all
A ghostly hand reaches through the veil
Blood and sand, we will prevail Valhalla waits, Valkyries rise and fall

“Valhalla” and “Valkyries” are from ancient Norse mythology, and describe the passing into the afterlife. Valhalla is the mystic hall in Asgard, the Nordic final resting place. Only half of the warriors that die in battle are led to Valhalla by Valkyries, which are a group of female escorts, who decide the fate of half the warriors that fall in battle.
“The warrior tombs, lie open for us all” implies that death was nearly imminent for every warrior on the beaches, and that their tombs were already open to them.
“A ghostly hand reaches through the veil” provided me with two interpretations: Perhaps that the “Ghostly hand” reaching through the veil is death reaching to pull the fallen soldiers into its cold grasp, or, that the ghostly hand represents merciless bullets reaching through the veil of fog covering the desolate warzone. Even before analyzing this song, I found it both inspirational and appalling, and reading through and deciphering the lyrics has only made it that much more intriguing.
This song combines so much respectable symbolism and relatable elements, it simply could not be disregarded or looked over, nor can it be compared to in terms of symbolic fragments.
This song means a great deal to me for several reasons, the largest of which being my interest in such aspects, and the amount of respect and envy I have for those that relentlessly fought against the tyrannic German Reich. The unyielding capabilities and determination of men at this time can only be yearned in a generation such as ours, and their honour, courage, and defiance leaves me both awestruck and anxious for our own society, where little brotherhood or even general compassion exists. This song also tickles my fancy due to its connection to my own life, and how the songs morals are parallel to my own: Brotherhood, valor, compassion and sacrifice. Yeah, that's it.

Sliding we go, only fear on our side
To the edge of the wire,
and we rush with the tide
Oh the water is red,
with the blood of the dead
But I'm still alive, pray to God I survive (Metaphor) Gloom, gathering, gimlet, gates- Alliteration "Paper soldiers"- imagery "Armageddon's reach"- personification "Overlord, your master not your god"
- apostrophe, diction (Imagery, apostrophe) (Oxymoron) (Personification) (Alliteration, assonance, apostrophe) "A ghostly hand reaches through the veil"- metaphor, apostrophe, personification
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