She Passed by My Window


It’s a fair bet that if someone passes by Nick Cave’s window in the first verse, they’ll be dead by the final chorus. In this case nobody dies, though the fruits of summer do wither in the cold of winter, which is a metaphor for the transient and fragile nature of life itself. The lady is fortunate indeed that Nick Cave failed to fall in love with her. She can pick up her dropped glove and go on living. I very much like the imagery in this song, and I notice that although it’s less verbose than Nick Cave usually likes to be, it tells a very full story that’s clearly set in time. The glove dropping etiquette is all that it needs to place it in the Romantic era, when flirtations started and thwarted with the keenest discretion. It was not unreasonably for the Romantic poet to liken a young woman to a withering spring fruit, for her lifespan would likely be far shorter than that of an plum tree. Why love at all, the poet asks, when youth and beauty and life itself is so speedily destroyed?

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