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Lyrics

God bless the cold wind
And its refreshing consequence, uh-huh
Oh please
Return

Hellas did tremble (1)
Hellas did go to waste
Finding it difficult
To stand in its fury
Over the ironing board
But still its golden curls
Vented its Hellas fury

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Baby baby baby baby baby
Baby baby baby baby baby
Come back to me
Come back to me
Return

Please
Please

I tell you go easy
And this one did
But still this golden creature
Raised its fury
Head sparkles

Return
Baby baby baby baby baby
Baby baby baby baby baby
Come back to me
Please
Return

Return
Return

Is that a hair extension?
It's soaked in hair lotion
How can you smell your own head?

Please
Return

Baby baby baby baby baby
Baby baby baby baby baby
Come back to me

I'll change the latch on the door
I'll get locks all over
I ride on up ahead
Tremble and panic, uh huh

Please

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Notes

1. Hellas is the ancient name for Greece. Danny hears echoes of the chorus of Shelley's Hellas (1821) in the lyrics, and this is an intriguing suggestion. Hellas is a dramatic verse which, according to Shelley, was inspired by the Persae (The Persians) of Aeschylus. The Persae is concerned with the fate of the Persian ruler Xerxes who incurs the wrath of the gods by invading Greece. The drama takes place in Persia, however, and we don't see Xerxes himself until he returns, despondent, and laments his defeat. 

"Hellas" is in the form of a conversation between Mahmud II, sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1808 until 1839, during the Greek war of Independence (Greece gained independence in 1832; Hellas was composed near the beginning of the conflict in 1821), and Ahaseurus, the Wandering Jew (a legendary Jew who cursed Jesus and was condemned to walk the earth until the Second Coming). During the conversation the realization dawns on Mahmud that he is losing the war with Greece. 

While the various themes of return indicated above may not all have been on MES's mind, it is at the very least interesting to briefly consider them: Aeschylus' drama returns in Shelley's retelling, which is itself due to the fact that history itself seems to return to the same themes. Greece was once again fighting a foreign power, although this time the aim was separation from an empire rather than fending off an invader. The Wandering Jew is fated to return, in a sense, to the same scenes and situations over the centuries, as he waits for Christ to return and free him from the repetitive round, as he is often portrayed as weary and longing for death. And Christ's return will bring about the resurrection of all the faithful dead who will return to life. 

The theme of the chorus from Hellas is eternal return, which is a concept that is mostly associated with Nietzsche nowadays but is, in one form or another, a very old notion. The chorus begins with a powerful image of the return of former times:

The world’s great age begins anew,
The golden years return,
The earth doth like a snake renew
Her winter weeds outworn:
Heaven smiles, and faiths and empires gleam,
Like wrecks of a dissolving dream.

By the end, however, it is clear that the chorus sees eternal return as a curse:

Oh, cease! must hate and death return?
Cease! must men kill and die?
Cease! drain not to its dregs the urn
Of bitter prophecy.
The world is weary of the past,
Oh, might it die or rest at last!

In his preface to the poem, Shelley indicates that the world has entered an age in which a "new race" might break the recurring cycles of tyranny of the previous two milennia:

"This is the age of the war of the oppressed against the oppressors, and every one of those ringleaders of the privileged gangs of murderers and swindlers, called Sovereigns, look to each other for aid against the common enemy, and suspend their mutual jealousies in the presence of a mightier fear. Of this holy alliance all the despots of the earth are virtual members. But a new race has arisen throughout Europe, nursed in the abhorrence of the opinions which are its chains, and she will continue to produce fresh generations to accomplish that destiny which tyrants foresee and dread." 

At the risk of a juxtaposition that may be found bathetic, the narrator's feelings about return seem to change during the course of the song, perhaps precipitated by an unpleasant smell (but more likely the narrator's disgust is a token of a deeper annoyance):

"Is that a hair extension?/It's soaked in hair lotion/How can you smell your own head?"

By the end, our hero is changing all his locks and peeling off down the road.

 ^

More Information

Return: Fall Tracks A-Z

The Story of the Fall: 1992

 

DAN:

 

The sleeve notes to "Code : Selfish" have some scribbled MES text, which includes some lines from this song. Note that they are not quite what we know is clearly sung, so...: "God bless the cold wind, And their refreshing consequence  Please - return Hellas did tremble Hellas did go away Found it difficult To stand in its fury ..er the ironing board ... Golden curl"

And on another page there's the sometimes traditional little one liners about each song (spelling as in original); "3. RETURN. Note Grecian reference. Composedd by S. Hanley, who, in group pictures looks like a Passing Labourer."

Comments (6)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 07/04/2013
"Golden curl":

http://www.bbc.co.uk/poetryseason/poems/goblin_market.shtml

Can't see any textual relationship though.
dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 11/02/2014
From PB Shelley's poem, "Hellas":

"THE world's great age begins anew,
The golden years return,
The earth doth like a snake renew
Her winter weeds outworn;
Heaven smiles, and faiths and empires gleam
Like wrecks of a dissolving dream."

The echoes are faint, but I think they are there nonetheless.
dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 11/05/2014
"Hellas did tremble
Hellas did blow it away"

The second line here is indistinct in the album and Peel Session versions. It might be "blow [it] away" or "go away". But I just listened to the version on Twenty-Seven Points, and the line is clear: "Hellas did go to waste". And so, only because it's not any clearer anywhere else, and despite the fact that lyrics do vary between versions, I'm having that as canonical.
bzfgt
  • 4. bzfgt | 13/05/2014
Agreed: with the known evidence, and the way it sounds, that's the best option, or anyway the one I like most. But he definitely doesn't pronounce the "ste" on C:S, it sounds like "go to way"...
dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 16/04/2017
The sleeve notes to "Code : Selfish" have some scribbled MES text, which includes some lines from this song. Note that they are note quite what we know is clearly sung, so...:


God bless the cold wind, And their refreshing conveyance
Please - return
Hellas did tremble
Hellas did go away
Found it difficult
To stand in its fury
..er the ironing board
... Golden curl


And on another page there's the sometimes traditional little one liners about each song (spelling as in original);


3. RETURN. Note Grecian reference. Composedd by S. Hanley, who, in group pictures looks like a Passing Labourer.
dannyno
  • 6. dannyno | 16/04/2017
Post #5: hm, "conveyance" is probably actually "consequence". It's hard to read.

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