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by Regina Spektor


Regina Spektor is a songwriter, but many of her fans call her a poet, and for good reason. She constantly finds creative ways to rhyme seemingly un-rhymable words, uses syncopated beats (think ragtime or hip hop), sings in French, Russian, and English, and constantly drops references to other music, literature, history, and pop culture. She's like the bard of Bohemia, and owns this title with dignity.

In "Samson" she employs a sort of half-hearted external rhyme scheme in which the ends of her lines sometimes rhyme together ("light"/"alright", "bed"/"head"/"red"/"bread") and sometimes they form more of a slant rhyme (where the stressed consonants in certain words rhyme with each other), as in "heads"/"met", "down"/"one"/"once"; "downfall"/"dull", etc.

She's more concerned with the way each word that she chooses actually sounds than fitting them into a specific meter (beat).

Spektor's lyrics are also cyclical. She starts and ends with "you are my sweetest downfall / I loved you first," and then continues with "beneath…" but changes what follows the "beneath" each time: "beneath the sheets of paper," "beneath the stars." This repetitive structure is poetry at its finest and reminds us of a spiral where the revolving ideas keep repeating, but shrink and grow each time and change with the lines. Need another example? Check out W.B. Yeats's "The Second Coming" "turning and turning in the widening gyre."

There are three verses that begin with "you are my sweetest downfall" and three verses that begin with "Samson," showing that the song's narrator is worrying like crazy about what happened between her and her lover; she repeats her anxieties like a broken record. She's obviously conflicted and trying to work through her own guilt and pain by singing the same basic themes over and over with slightly different variations on the words as she goes. Haven't you ever done that after a breakup? And Samson was most likely stricken with the same sense of terror and rejection: "She said she loved me too. She did that. Or wait, did she? Or was I just imagining that? I really hurt her, I didn't mean to. I don't remember. But she must love me, right? Or was it all just pretend? But we spent the night together last night… Hey, where did my hair go?" It's the same thing that T.S. Eliot goes through in "Prufrock", and the same thing countless love struck young adults go through daily. It's been said that when you fall in love, you become a poet, and this just might be a good example of that theory.

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