What does Bitter Green mean?

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Gordon Lightfoot: Bitter Green Meaning

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Song Released: 1968


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  1. anonymous
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    Apr 1st report

    It's obvious that she is waiting for her true love. But the line "Loving everyone that she met" seems at odds with "Waiting for her master
    To kiss away her tears".

    One way to reconcile them is to imagine that her "master" is imaginary or an ideal. She imagines that he is a heroic sailor or gallant swashbuckler (unfairly imprisoned of course). Or that he is a real person and in her eternal hopefulness she sees a glimmer of him in everyone new she meets but eventually always realizes this new one cannot live up to her lost love (or her ideal).

    That's one quality of great prose... It sounds simple enough on first read. On on closer in inspection however there are some loose ends that don't quite fit. That's what draws you in deeper...

  2. anonymous
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    Dec 14th report

    Bitter green is the song of a woman who only loves one man for all her life.
    He has had to go to work, or war, he is a sailor, married to the sea, though he also loves her, his soulmate, who waits for him to come back to her. He finally comes, but she has died waiting for him, and he cries over her grave, his lost love.

  3. anonymous
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    Nov 16th 2018 report

    Ive mainly the same interpretation of the song as those above. I however, always saw BitterGreen as a pony or horse for some reason.

  4. Yourlovesreturn7
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    Dec 21st 2017 report

    The previous interpretations of this Lightfoot heart rending song of separated lovers fall far short of the sheer beauty of faithful love between a man & a woman beyond reproach that Gordon when in the pomp of his voice expresses!To misinterpret this as a dog waiting 'through the years' is beneath contempt as much as I admire some dogs faithfulness,& CERTAINLY the key line of 'waiting for her master to kiss away her tears,waiting through the years' says it all & the only thing disgusting & chauvinistic is replacing Lightfoots fine woman with an abandoned dog in these commentariats imagination!To illustrate further towards songs end as the man finally returns as a weary stranger to all except she who lies buried in the churchyard,'he kneels there in the Autumn mist dreaming of her kiss'Only the old standard Danny Boy' is as poignant dealing with faithful love beyond death & another writer may have confused this Lightfoot masterpiece with 'Brandy' a song by 'Looking Glass' that speaks eloquently of a bargirl of real class & her longing for a seaman as she lives her life out in a seaport,& alas he is married to the sea!Beware though with Gordon that with his deeper songs that require chordal progression & his richer & deeper voice spacing,you must get him on the right day & in the period before 1980.(IE 'The Circle Is Small' 1968 studio cut is brilliant & subsequently rarely was!)Rod J Baldwin.

  5. anonymous
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    Nov 20th 2017 report

    I believe that,Bitter Green is,about a dog waiting for her master to come home. She feels abandoned and,alone,as she,wanders the portside looking for him. Dogs are very true when they love. It could only be about a dog waiting for her owner to come home. It is very sad. I work with rescues and are all the time where a pup has been abandoned and waits. One waited,at her master's graveside daily intokn she finally died aknkso. It is a very sad song.

  6. anonymous
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    Aug 7th 2017 report

    It is about a dog waiting for her master to come back.
    One of the lines even say that she is waiting for her master. And she is looking for "someone to take her home".
    Pretty descriptive of a lonely dog that wanders around the town.
    Pretty chauvinistic and disgusting to describe a lonely woman that way.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  7. kooljohn176
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    Jan 14th 2015 report

    I was fortunate to see Gordon Lightfoot in concert a couple of times in the past that were great shows and the reruns of movies like ''The Ghost and Mrs.Muir'' to remind the imagination when there was and still is in the music of Gordon Lightfoot that grounds you in our earthly nature while giving you some comfort to dream in the hope for the good with the pain and pleasures of our everyday lives in this universe. ''Bitter Green'' is a beautiful and a haunting song in a love story of waiting and yearning throughout the years overlooking from the top of hillsides of the bitter green for the woman's lover to come home to her from some far away voyage who might have been a sea captain that was lost at sea or caught as some prisoner who one day finally came home looking for his lover, but only to find out that she's gone in the echoes of the hilldides that turned to the bitter green for him also.


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