Poetry & Song Lyrics

April is National Poetry Month, and this month I will post more poetry-related blogs, starting with this one. I’ve always thought there was a connection between poetry and song lyrics. Are they interchangeable? I believe so. There are poems which read like song lyrics, and there are songs which have a poetic tone. I didn’t pay much attention to poetry until I got into music, and I began to approach songs lyrics as if they were poems. Poems and song lyrics have a few things in common. For example, they’re both written in lines or verse. They’re both divided into stanzas, and use techniques such as rhyme and repetition.

Both songs and poems use metaphors and imagery in order to create a mood or tell a story. They can be sad or they can be uplifting. They can have a message or a theme for whoever is reading them or listening to them, and they can change the way you feel.

lyrics from “Come For the Wake”

One of my favorite books of poetry is Auguries of Innocence by Patti Smith. Patti Smith is a singer/songwriter/artist/activist/poet/insert many other titles here, and she’s considered to be the Godmother of punk rock. Auguries of Innocence is a collection of her poetry, which she published in 2005. She’s known for fusing poetry with her song lyrics, and when you read her work in this collection, you can easily pick up lines from some of her songs.

In one of my books, Our Lady of Righteous Rage, my main character Amy is a poet/songwriter. She pens a song which can be read as a poem, Come For the Wake, Stay For the Funeral (technically, I wrote it, but you get my meaning). The lyrics reflect her feelings after returning home from her great aunt’s funeral: relatives have gathered not to say good-bye, but to see what has been left to them. The lyrics are published in both editions of the book, and I have posted them below:

All you spectators, please gather ‘round
The dearly beloved is barely in the ground
Did you come to mourn, or to grieve
All you care about is…..
What did he leave me?

Come for the wake, stay for the funeral
Come for the wake, stay for the funeral
Promise you, its gonna be one hell of a show
Come for the wake,  but stay for the funeral

Well, its Grandma’s tea set
And her antique chest
And that rare coin collection you mustn’t forget
Now everyone’s sitting on the edge of their seats
So quiet you can hear your own heart beat
It’s the grand finale
The reading of the will
The room’s dead silent, everyone is still
Has your name been called?
Did you make the list?
Did you get everything you wanted to get?


Come for the wake, stay for the funeral
Come for the wake, stay for the funeral
Promise you, its gonna be one hell of a show
Come for the wake,  but stay for the funeral


Now the service is over
Everyone’s walking away
They really didn’t have a reason to stay
A loved one is dead and didn’t leave them shit
When you’re just a spectator
That’s what you get
You weren’t there in their life
But you’ll collect in their death
Like greedy little vultures feeding off of the rest
Spectators only come when there’s something to see
They just want the money
They’re not here to grieve

Come for the wake, stay for the funeral
Come for the wake, stay for the funeral
Promise you, its gonna be one hell of a show
Come for the wake,  but stay for the funeral

Come for the wake, stay for the funeral

Come for the wake, stay for the funeral


Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
If the sadness doesn’t bring you,
Then the money must

All you spectators, please gather ‘round
The dearly beloved is barely in the ground
All you spectators, please gather ‘round
The dearly beloved is barely in the ground….

There’s also a wonderful article in the Boston Review, which can be found here.

I hope everyone enjoys Poetry Month. Happy writing, everyone.

One thought on “Poetry & Song Lyrics

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