Well they come and pull me from my house / and they drag my body through the streets / and the sun’s so hot i think i’ll catch fire / and burn up / in the summer air so moist and sweet / and the people all come out to cheer / rocks in the pathway break my skin / and there’s honeysuckle on the faint breeze today / with every breath I’m drawing in / i wanna cry / out / but i don’t scream and i don’t shout / and i feel so proud to be alive / and i feel so proud when the reckoning arrives
the crowds grow denser by the second / as we near the center of the town / and they dig a trench right in the main square / right there / and they pick me up and throw me down / and i start laughing like a child / and i mark their faces one by one / transfiguration’s gonna come for me at last / and i will burn hotter than the sun / i waited so long / and now i taste jasmine on my tongue / and i feel so proud to be alive / and i feel so proud when the reckoning arrives
The first line starts out with “well” — already setting a more casual, narrative tone. The narrator begins with a syllable that doesn’t mean anything — this is apparently not a song they are angry about, or immediately know precisely how to word. However, the song starts out quickly enough, with drums actually, so that it’s clear the narrator does have energy.
"I wanna cry out" is ambiguous — people cry out with both joy and pain, as well as other emotions, such as surprise and anger. Thus, the listener is able to use this line to enforce whatever tone they’re already getting from the song, or maybe simply to enforce the simultaneous ambiguity/complexity and power of the narrator’s feelings.
"And I feel so proud to be alive/And I feel so proud when the reckoning arrives" — The narrator seems happy because of what has happened to them, not simply in spite of it. Their pride stems directly from their heresy (and/or things connected to it, such as their punishment.) The Reckoning is obviously referring to Christianity’s and Islam’s Judgment Day/Second Coming — however, the narrator never clarifies whether they will be proud at the reckoning because they will be honored there, or because they will be proud of being punished for what they did.
On a personal note, I really love the religious overtones here. I think a lot of what I did take from religion was the idea that good exists, or a good exists, even if I disagree with it on an intellectual level — I retain the emotional conviction that there is something right. Heresy and religion are intertwined in my head, whether they’re synonymous or opposed or have some more complicated relationship. And so that’s… fairly obviously being implicated in how I’m interpreting this?
"I mark their faces one by one / transfiguration’s gonna come for me at last" is a very interesting sequence of lines. After hearing that the narrator is marking those who are presumably killing him, one’s initial reaction is to suppose that the narrator is doing so in order to plan revenge — but this line is followed, not by any such plot, but by the thought of the narrator’s own transformation.
Honeysuckle and jasmine are the two plants referenced here. Although each has multiple meanings/interpretations, the ones most common for honeysuckle are types of love and devotion; jasmine is also linked to attachment/sensuality, and also has religious associations in Hinduism (Vishnu, votive offerings, &c.) Possibly my favorite meaning of honeysuckle was “love that clings but does not constrain” (referring to the way the plant grows up trellises and fences.) This could easily be reframed as a metaphor for the heretical narrator and the world; they apparently are glorying in the world, but they are not afraid to be forced to leave it.
In fine, the song is an individualistic anthem, an expression of glorying in rejection, of taking pride in a widely condemned action. The narrator occupies their own space in the world, and will not let that mental space and conviction be intruded upon or conquered.
- Joy as a defense mechanism? but very different than “laughing to keep from crying.” I’m going to die. Therefore, there is nothing left to do but glory in that fact.