SWORD OF LIGHT

"Walking hand in hand with silver..."




Part of the Annotated Lyrics Horslips Pages

Recorded On - Source Tune- Covered By - General Notes from Albums - Annotated Lyrics - Comments


Use both your hands to hold me.
Tight! Tighter than you should.
My heart is cold as steel
But my body's flesh and blood.
Walking hand in hand with silver,
Close as gold to kiss,
Only lovers left alive
And they're swallowed in the mist.

I'm your Sword of Light.
Won't you be mine tonight.
I'm your Sword of Light tonight,
Going to scorch you deep inside,
Make you glad to be alive
Because I'm your Sword of Light.

Wrap tight your cloak around me
And I'll whisper close my dreams.
My home is such a long way
And I'm older than I seem.
I've come a long way with the good news;
I know you need my help.
But don't ask me to be your guide
I'm a stranger here myself.

I'm your Sword of Light.
Won't you be mine tonight.
I'm your Sword of Light tonight,
Going to scorch you deep inside,
Make you glad to be alive
Because I'm your Sword of Light.

Use both your hands to hold me.
Tight! and tighter should.
My heart is cold as steel
But my body's flesh and blood.
Walking hand in hand with silver,
Close as gold to kiss,
Only lovers left alive
And they're swallowed in the mist.

Recorded On:

  1. The Book of Invasions: A Celtic Symphony
  2. Horslips, The Best of
  3. Treasury, The Very Best of Horslips

Source Tune:

Toss the Feathers

Recordings (After Horslips):

  1. The Corrs, Unplugged: The Corrs and other albums

Covered By:

  1. Horslypse - Tribute with a Capital T, Omagh

General Notes from Albums:

The Claidheamh Solais was a potent enough symbol to grace the penny stamp in Ireland for years ... but enough of this trivia. Here it is a thinly disguised sexual metaphor. As you do..

Notes on Horslips, The Best Of..., Edsel Records

The spritely reel Toss the Feathers is the booster rocket needed to power up Sword of Light.

Notes on Treasury, The Best of Horslips, Horslips Records

Annotated Lyrics:

"hand in hand with silver"
58. Now Nuadu Airgetlam was king over the Tuatha De Danann for seven years before their coming into Ireland, until his arm was hewn from him in the first battle of Mag Tuired. Eidleo s. Alldai, he was the first man of the Tuatha De Danann who fell in Ireland, by the hand of Nercon ua Semeoin, in the first battle of Mag Tuired. Ernmas, and Echtach, and Etargal, and Fiachra, and Tuirill Piccreo fell in the same battle. Bress s. Elada took the kingship of Ireland post, to the end of seven years, till the arm of Nuadu was healed: a silver arm with activity in every finger and every joint which Dian Cecht put upon him, Credne helping him.

The Lebor Gab�la �renn: The Book of Invasions, translation on The Celtic Literature Collective

Stories which introduce the des s�de or T�atha D� Donann as principle actors are to-day known as Mythological tales, for to the modern scholar it is clear that the T�atha D� Donann and des s�de were the gods of pagan Ireland surrounded by the lesser divinities and spirits over whom they ruled. Many of the chief persons among them are identifiable with Celtic gods known to us from other sources: Lug, for instance, with the god who gave his name to Lyons (Lugdunum,) Laon, Leyden, and other continental towns; and N�adu with the Nodons (or Nodens) who was worshipped in a Romano-British temple at Lydney Park in Gloucestershire.

Gerald Murphy, Saga and Myth in Ancient Ireland, Mercier Press, 1961. Murphy's book has been cited as one of the reference books for Horslips.

"Only lovers left alive"
Only Lovers Left Alive was a 1964 distopian novel of generational suicide and social decline by David Wallis. It has a long history of rock and roll connections, some of which are outlined here at vermilion-sands.com.
"Sword of Light"
The Sword of Light is one of the four jewels of the T�atha D� Danann, as captured in this poem in the late-fourteenth century manuscript Lebor Buide Lec�in. From "Ceithri seuti n-Tuath De Danann":

9 Lia Fail a Failias anall,
Gesed fo rigaib Erend.
Claideb lama Loga luidh
A Goirias,�roga rocruid.

10 A Findias tar fairrgi i fad
Tucad sleg nemneach Nuadat.
A Murias, main adbol oll,
Coiri in Dagda na n-ardglond.

Translation:

9 From Failias (came) hither the Lia Fail,
Which shouted under the kings of Ireland.
The sword in the hand of the nimble Lug
From Gorias (it was procured), � a choice of vast riches.

10 From far-away Findias over the sea
Was brought the deadly spear of Nuada.
From Murias (was conveyed) a huge and mighty treasure,
The caldron of the Dagda of lofty deeds.

With much thanks for original and translated texts as posted by Kiyo's Mythos and Poesy Anthology, a collection of Celtic and Japanese mythology in Early Web style. Domo arigato, Kiyo!


A long time ago, in a Guestbook far, far away...one contributor riffed on the very obvious connection between Irish mythology's "sword of light" and George Lucas's light-sabers of the Star Wars cycle. Not to mention that silver hand and Luke's prosthesis in The Empire Strikes Back. Use the Force, Lugh! This has led to some great conversations over the years as to who influenced whom. So the question was finally asked...

Admin, September 2010


In answer to the question of Star Wars.... the film never entered the equation. Sorry. It would have been too obvious. I didn't have to stray from the original texts. Long before the George Lucas film (which was released a year or more after the Book of Invasions) we were already on intimate terms with the concept of a Light Saber. Let's hear it for the Tuatha De Danann!

It's almost as if was in the DNA. A guy with a Silver Arm (with its uncanny echo of The Man with the Golden Arm! Not to mention Johnny Thunders) and a people with a magical sword. Wild. The Sword of Light (An Claidheamh Soluis) was engrained in Irish culture and had even featured on a postage stamp.

Come on. You couldn't pass on something as vibrant and iconic as that!

Eamon Carr, email to the site, September 2010


Sword of Light postage stamp design, circa 1922, available now on a T-Shirt.
"I'm a stranger here myself"
It was a fun trick of juxtaposing pop culture references with detail from the old myths and often discovering that the same stories keep getting re-told. Here's a phrase that would have been in the review sections, at least, at the time.

Nicholas Ray, I'm a Stranger Here Myself

There was also an attempt to convey a Bowie-esque whiff of alienation and a nod to Robert A. Heinlein. All good rock'n'roll fun.

Eamon Carr


I can't believe that love has lost its glamour
That passion is really passe
If gender is just a term in grammar
How can I ever find my way since I'm a stranger here myself.

How can he ignore my available condition
Why these Victorian views?
You see here before you
A woman with a mission
I must discover the key to his ignition
And then if he should make a diplomatic proposition
How could I possibly refuse? How could I possibly refuse?
When I'm a stranger here myself?

"I'm A Stranger Here Myself" from One Touch of Venus, music written by Kurt Weill, lyrics by Ogden Nash, 1943

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First Posted: 28 October, 2007
Last Revised: 12 September, 2010