this has been done many times before I am going to add my own interpretation of
the lyrics of Stairway to Heaven (STH), one of the most popular songs of all
time. In keeping with the theme of my site, I plan to elucidate on the
meaning of the song.
Complete original lyrics
There's a Lady who's
All that glitters is gold,
And she's buying a Stairway to Heaven.
When she gets there she knows,
If the stores are all closed,
With a word she can get what she came for.
Ooh ooh and she's buying
a stairway to heaven.
There's a sign on the
But she wants to be sure,
'cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.
In a tree by the brook
There's a song bird who sings,
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven.
Ooh it makes me wonder,
ooh makes me wonder.
There's a feeling I get
when I look to the west,
And my spirit is crying for leaving.
In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees
And the voices of those who stand looking.
Ooh it makes me wonder,
ooh really makes me wonder.
And it's whispered that
soon if we all call the tune
Then the piper will lead us to reason.
And a new day will dawn for those who stand long,
And the forests will echo with laughter.
If there's a bustle in
Don't be alarmed now,
It's just a spring clean for the May Queen.
Yes there are two paths you can go by,
But in the long run
There's still time to change the road you're on.
And it makes me wonder.
Your head is humming and
it won't go,
In case you don't know,
The Piper's calling you to join him.
Dear Lady can you hear the wind blow, and did you know,
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind.
And as we wind on down
Our shadows taller than our soul,
There walks a lady we all know,
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold,
And if you listen very hard the tune will come to you at last,
When all are one and one is all, yeah
To be a rock and not to roll.
And she's buying a Stairway
Note: STH = Stairway to Heaven
let’s consider the influences on Robert Plant when he wrote the lyrics to this
song in late 1970 or early 1971. He had been part of the Hippie movement
in the mid 1960’s that had been sweeping the world. According toWikipedia the Hippies"rejected established institutions, criticized middle
class values, opposed nuclear weapons and the Vietnam War, embraced aspects of
Eastern philosophy, championed sexual liberation, were often vegetarian and
eco-friendly, promoted the use of psychedelic drugs to expand one's
consciousness, and created intentional communities or communes.” Plant
had also been influenced by the writings of Tolkein (Lord of the Rings), Celtic
andNorse mythology(and probablyHinduas well since Plant was married to an Indian
theme of STH is spiritual liberation. The Stairway to Heaven is the
liberation of the soul, as it makes the long journey through hell and Earth
(physical world) to the higher spiritual planes. As Plant said (on the 27
July 1973, Madison Square Gardens recording, and on other occasions) when
introducing STH, "… this is a song of hope”. This hope reflecting some of
the ideals of the Hippie movement, that the values of human society will turn
away from desires for greed and wealth and power towards universal love and
kindness and the evolution of the soul. To quote fromGreat
Nations) – "grace, courage, honesty and love”.
must also remember that good song lyrics are purposely obscure, open to wide
interpretation, and carry a good deal of artistic license. This is a work
of art which occurred in the moment. Deep analysis and searching for
meanings in specific words or phrases is often futile. Plant wrote down
what came into his head at the time. This is my interpretation of the
lyrics and other interpretations may be equally valid.
Stairway to Heaven lyrics
a Lady who's sure,
Lady is not, contrary to popular belief, Miss Shirley Bassey (a reference to
Leonard Teale on the Australian Stairways to Heaven CD)! She is that
universal quality of spirit that leads us towards enlightenment, salvation,
self-realisation, God – whatever you like to call it or see the goal as.
In Norse mythology she was Frigg, also known as Isis, Mary, The Mother, Mother
Nature, Diana, Aphrodite, etc. Being universal, she is an aspect in each
and every one of us (and everything else in creation). She is the subject
of STH. Plant referred to "the lady who’s sure” in future songs (eg Liars
Dance) when making a reference to Stairway to Heaven (in the context of Liars
Dance it was to do with greed – being approached by agents wanting him to
perform Stairway to Heaven again, not to promote the message of love and peace
and spiritual aspirations as in Tie Dye on the Highway, but simply for the
money to be made from a reunion concert).
that glitters is gold,
optimism. The commonly quoted saying is "all that glitters [glisters] is
not gold” – ie things that on the surface may appear to have great value, may
in fact be worthless. That is cynicism or pessimism. In contrast,
the Lady sees good in all things; pure unconditional love – that even the
smallest spark of light in each of us has the potential to grow (and
"everything that’s small has to grow – and its all growin’” - The Song Remains
the Same) and reach the goal.
she's buying a Stairway to Heaven.
effort towards spiritual realisation. The word "buying” refers to effort
– it will not simply happen by itself. Liberation has to be bought.
she gets there she knows, If the stores are all
closed, With a word she can get what
she came for.
expresses the certainty of the achievement of the goal, which will bring
freedom, access to everything, immortality, eternal bliss. At that time
she can have whatever she wants by asking – it is hers anyway. So this
first verse has stated that the Lady is committed to the path of enlightenment
and is sure of the benefits upon achieving the goal.
a sign on the wall, But she wants to be sure, 'cause you know sometimes
words have two meanings.
is also cautious. There are signs / symbols / pointers along the
way. Christianity referes to the devil or Satan. In Indian
mythology the word is Maya – illusion. On any spiritual path the student
is told to be wary of things that will take them off the path (this doesn't necessarily
lead to eternity in hell, it just delays progress). Tthere are desires
relating to the physical body and earthly pleasures, and there are aspirations
of the soul.
tree by the brook There's a song bird who
sings, Sometimes all of our
thoughts are misgiven.
is interesting imagery in these lyrics. The tree inNorse mythologyisYggdrasil, a connection between hell at its roots and heaven at
the topmost branches. The Tree of Life also occurs in the bible and
ancient Kabbalah teachings. In most contexts it represents a connection
between all things in the universe. A brook in Tarot usually represents
the flow of desires. In Hindu mythology the analogy of the bird in the
tree is to the higher self or soul that watches the lower self struggle with
earthly desires. Misgiven thoughts are fears and doubts. The sense
of these lines is that there is a part of us that is always watching. The
heart is strong but the flesh is weak. The doubts and fears of the lower
mind is holding us back and preventing us from making progress. However,
throughout history there have been great men, teachings, works of art pointing
to a better way, and the little "bird" inside us reminds us of this.
a feeling I get when I look to the west, And my spirit is crying for
Plant talking, and he also speaks for many of us. The "west” refers to
the greed, capitalism and technology of western civilisation. (The "east”
is the spiritual way of love and compassion and enlightenment of the
soul). He doesn’t like what he sees, and wants to take a different path.
thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees And the voices of those who
mind he is aware of the ancestors, those who have gone before and are further
down the path. These are the great teachers and masters through the ages
who are there to help spiritual aspirants.
it's whispered that soon if we all call the tune Then the piper will lead us
to reason. And a new day will dawn for
those who stand long, And the forests will echo
piper alludes to thePied Piper (of Hamelin), imagery for an inner calling that seems to pull us
along. In western occultism, once a student has begun upon the path the
next phase is known as "the pull of the way”. You are on the path, and in
time it will lead you to happiness. The forests echoing with laughter
suggests that those watching through the trees (previous verse) will rejoice
when the rest of us catch up and join them.
there's a bustle in your hedgerow, Don't be alarmed now, It's just a spring clean for
the May Queen.
has nothing to do with young girls reaching puberty! Plant has said
himself that this is imagery for hope, new growth. The changes in spring
time herald the death of winter and a fresh start all around.
there are two paths you can go by, But in the long run There's still time to change
the road you're on.
reminder that there are always two choices. The path of earthly pleasures
(Christianity would say the lure of the devil), or the higher path of spiritual
enlightenment. The choice is ours, it is made every moment of the day in
everything we do, and anybody at any time in any place can change paths
(hopefully from the lower to the higher, rather than vice-versa).
makes me wonder.
ad-libs this several times between verses. The feeling of awe and wonder
is like that of a young child seeing the world for the first time (as Jesus
says in the Bible "Be ye like little children"). So large and
marvellous. No greed or wanting or grabbing. No fear or
hatred. A desire to learn and understand and explore. In Hindu
teachings the feeling of wonder arises in the state ofSattva(purity), as opposed to Rajas (activity) or Tamas
head is humming and it won't go, In case you don't know, The Piper's calling you to
hadn’t noticed by now, listening to the song (Stairway to Heaven) is drawing
you along the path of the Lady, towards enlightenment. The spiritual
aspirant is being drawn along by the "pull of the way”. This is the
revolution the Hippie movement was hoping for.
Lady can you hear the wind blow, and did you know, Your stairway lies on the
very interesting imagery. In Norse mythology the previously mentioned
tree, Yggdrasil, stands with its roots in hell (where there sits the dragon, an
allegory for the kundalini energy at the base of the spine) and at the top of
the tree in heaven is an Eagle. It is the Eagle flapping its wings that
results in the wind - the wind being an analogy for the mind. There are
two paths – you can follow that of the earthly desires, or you can listen to
the inner mind and follow the path towards the Eagle. (Eagles are also
mentioned in "Ten Years Gone” with references to the "one nest" which
is in our souls). The Lady, Frigg, the wife of Odin (Chief of the Gods)
knows this. The ancient mythology are not random stories; they were the
means by which their sacred teachings were promulgated. Analogies for all
these characters will be found in the human body and mind.
we wind on down the road, Our shadows taller than our
shadows are the "sins” or negative aspects of the personality which taint the
purity of the soul. On the road to enlightenment the shadows will reduce
as we grow nearer the source of the light. If you have walked along paved
streets at night that are lit by street lamps you will have noticed that there
is no shadow when you are beneath a streetlight. As you move away from it
a shadow develops which grows longer and longer, until you approach another
light and it grows shorter and shorter and then disappears when you are
underneath it. These lines acknowledge that we are not perfect.
walks a lady we all know, Who shines white light and
wants to show How everything still turns
reminder again of hope. The journey on the Stairway to Heaven is a long
one. The Lady (Frigg, wife of Odin), the eternal aspect of the spirit
that always leads the aspirant to the goal, is always there reminding us that
there is purity of soul and in time it will increase. The analogy with
the metal gold is that it is permanent, pure and remains untarnished.
This is the ultimate aim of the soul.
you listen very hard the tune will come to you at last,
in to the alternative path. Call it what you want – the Hippie movement,
the spiritual way - the opposite of war, greed, hatred, desire for control and
domination, wealth, etc. Pretty well the exact opposite of the news items
that come out of America each night.
all are one and one is all,
To be a
rock and not to roll.
and Roll is the musical movement that evolved in the USA in the 1940’s and
50’s. There is a play on words here, because we are not talking about
rock and roll music. To be a rock is also imagery for the ultimate
achievement of the spiritual goal – principally referring to the mind (rather
than the physical body), to be unmoved (unruffledChitta) through any event or adversity.
she's buying a Stairway to Heaven.
reiteration of the message of hope. The Lady is always there, creating
the opportunity for all seekers to take the path of liberation.
Эта леди твердит:
Злато всё, что блестит,
И она купит лестницу в небо.
Стоит слово сказать -
И свое можно взять
В час, когда не достать даже хлеба.
висит, где стена,
Но не верит она,
Ведь бывает у слов по два смысла.
Возле речки в кустах
Запоет певчий птах,
Но опасны порой наши мысли.
О, как это странно.
смотрю на закат,
И на сердце тоска,
И рыдает душа, рвясь на волю.
Наяву, как во сне,
Кольца дыма в листве,
Голоса и глаза с давней болью.
О, как это странно.
В самом деле странно.
Песню мир позовет,
И трубач приведет всех нас в чувство.
Снова солнце взойдет
Для тех, кто так ждет,
Снова смехом леса отзовутся.
палисад пронизан дрожью,
Но не тревожься,
С весной встречая деву мая.
Перед тобою две дороги,
Но будут сроки,
Чтоб успеть еще сменить свой путь.
Это очень странно.
не спасут шальные мысли,
Не знаешь если:
Трубач зовет тебя в дорогу
Послушай, леди, ветра песню,
Ведь, как известно,
На ветерке лестница лежит.
на извилистом пути
В тенях нам душу не спасти.
Там леди светлая идет,
Она покажет нам вот-вот
Свой золотой небесный свод,
И если слух не подведет,
Тебя мелодия найдет,
Чтоб мир единство вновь обрел:
Уж лучше рок, чем просто ролл.