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Sufjan Stevens - Casimir Pulaski Day

Golden rod and the 4-H stone
The things I brought you
When I found out you had cancer of the bone

Your father cried on the telephone
And he drove his car to the Navy yard
Just to prove that he was sorry

In the morning through the window shade
When the light pressed up against your shoulder blade
I could see what you were reading

Oh the glory that the lord has made
And the complications you could do without
When I kissed you on the mouth

Tuesday night at the bible study
We lift our hands and pray over your body
But nothing ever happens

I remember at Michael's house
In the living room when you kissed my neck
And I almost touched your blouse

In the morning at the top of the stairs
When your father found out what we did that night
And you told me you were scared

Oh the glory when you ran outside
With your shirt tucked in and your shoes untied
And you told me not to follow you

Sunday night when I cleaned the house
I find the card where you wrote it out
With the pictures of your mother

On the floor at the great divide
With my shirt tucked in and my shoes untied
I am crying in the bathroom

In the morning when you finally go
And the nurse runs in with her head hung low
And the cardinal hits the window

In the morning in the winter shade
On the first of March on the holiday
I thought I saw you breathing

Oh the glory that the lord has made
And the complications when I see his face
In the morning in the window

Oh the glory when he took our place
But he took my shoulders and he shook my face
And he takes and he takes and he takes

This song details the events that surround the death of the narrator’s female friend, and the crisis of faith that it triggers for the narrator. Some read this as chronological narration of events, others as a “stream of consciousness” narration of past events that also includes more recent occurrences. Sufjan Steven’s songs often elicit religious undertones that only strengthen the messages, without becoming consumed with biblical references. Sufjan told Adequacy that the correlation between his faith and his music exist because he believes faith does not influence us, rather it lives within us. Casimir Pulaski Day is a holiday in Illinois that honors a Polish cavalry soldier in the American Revolutionary War. The lyrics in the song show Steven’s serious questioning of his religion, however the music at the end of the song shows that this experience with death only brought Sufjan closer to God. The song describes a friend, or a girlfriend, who died on Casimir Pulaski Day. In Illinois, if a loved one dies, you get the day off from work or school on said day, but since she died on a holiday, he has to suffer without a break. "This absolves me from ever making the embarrassing effort to gratify God (and the church) by imposing religious content on anything I do."

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