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delicate advance and retreat Options
Posted: Saturday, September 8, 2018 3:41:13 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/6/2013
Posts: 252
Neurons: 7,273
The text of Delicate by Terence Trent D'Arby is:

Delicate like rain
Delicate like snow
Delicate like birds
Delicate just so
Delicate like air
Delicate like breeze
Delicate like you and me
A delicate advance
A delicate retreat
Delicately planned
Delicate like peace
Delicate like a touch
That's delicately brief
Delicate like you and me
Delicate like trinkets on her bracelet
(Like trinkets on her bracelet)
Delicate like a bracelet on your arm
(Like a bracelet on your arm)
Delicate like sweet arms around me
(Your sweet arms around me)
Delicate like me on top of you
Delicate like words
Delicate how time
So delicately runs
Then delicately dies
Delicate how eyes
So delicately breathe
Delicate like you my dear
Delicate like me my love
Delicate like you and
Delicate like me and
Delicate like
Delicate like you and me

I wonder what do "advance" and "retreat" mean here? Is there any ambiguity in this song?
Delicate is here on Youtube Delicate
Posted: Saturday, September 8, 2018 5:15:36 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 17,560
Neurons: 56,753
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom
McC - song lyrics and poetry are one individual person's thoughts. We have no idea of what the writers have in their minds when they write them: - it's their own personal experiences, thoughts, and ideas which are being recorded. Unlike a text where the main purpose is to make the reader understand what's in the writers mind, poetry and song owe nothing to the hearer/reader: it's the writer expressing their inmost thoughts.

So, what do the two phrases mean? You, yourself have to work out - not what the writer meant - but what it means to you. What those two phrases make YOU think of; how YOU interpret them. There's no "correct" way to explain them.

The song also uses "Delicate how eyes...breathe." Since you didn't ask about that, it would seem you found a way for that to make sense to you. So, in the same way, you have to look for a way for the two phrases you asked about.

And in fact if something fails to make sense to you it doesn't matter. You can just appreciate how the words themself sound, or how theyfit in with the melody or the rythm, or what thoughts they make you have.

All over the world people sing songs even when we have no idea what some (or all!) of them mean - just because we like the sounds.

Posted: Sunday, September 9, 2018 6:32:48 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 34,355
Neurons: 226,902
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
I had a thought - that possibly you know these two words mainly from war movies or with some military aspect.
These are quite common meanings ("advance" = "attack" and "retreat" means "run away"). However, they really simply mean "move forwards" and "move backwards".

In the context of a love song - about a relationship - my idea is (and this, as Romany says, is only MY idea) would be similar to "reaching out" and "withdrawing from".

That song is a good use of words - particularly "delicate" which has a slightly different meaning in each line. In some it can mean "fragile, easily broken", in other lines it means "subtle, gentle, careful" and in other lines, it means "tactful, with regard for the feelings of others" - a very skilled use of one word!
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