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What Taylor Swift’s ‘The Archer’ Lyrics Really Mean

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Taylor Swift announced the release of a surprise new song during her livestream this afternoon: “The Archer”—one that really explores how her own vulnerability and difficulty trusting people (friends and significant others) to stay after her past experiences with friends turned enemies (“All the king’s horses, all the king’s men / Couldn’t put me together again / ‘Cause all of my enemies started out friends / Help me hold on to you.”)

Swift explained during her livestream that “‘The Archer’ is not the next single. It’s just a song I love on the album. I haven’t made a video for it or anything. This is just sort of a glimpse into another side of the album I wanted to show you.”

Swift and Jack Antonoff worked on the song together.

As Swift explained during her livestream, on Lover generally, “there’s a lot that’s covered emotionally, and I really wanted to give you track 5 before the album came out. So track 5 is kind of a tradition that really started with you guys because I didn’t realize I was doing this but…instinctually I was putting a very vulnerable, honest, emotional song as track 5. So because you noticed this, I started to put the songs that were honest, emotional, vulnerable, and personal as track 5.”

“The Archer” (which could be a nod to the fact that Swift is a Sagittarius, and the archer is literally part of her zodiac) goes there on Lover. Listen to it below and take in the lyrics, via Genius:

Verse 1:

Combat, I’m ready for combat

I say I don’t want that, but what if I do?

‘Cause cruelty wins in the movies

I’ve got a hundred thrown-out speeches I almost said to you

Pre-Chorus:

Easy they come, easy they go

I jump from the train, I ride off alone

I never grew up, it’s getting so old

Help me hold on to you

Chorus:

I’ve been the archer, I’ve been the prey

Who could ever leave me, darling

But who could stay?

Verse 2:

Dark side, I search for your dark side

But what if I’m alright, right, right, right here?

And I cut off my nose just to spite my face

Then I hate my reflection for years and years

Pre-Chorus:

I wake in the night, I pace like a ghost

The room is on fire, invisible smoke

And all of my heroes die all alone

Help me hold on to you

Chorus:

I’ve been the archer, I’ve been the prey

Screaming, who could ever leave me, darling

But who could stay?

(I see right through me, I see right through me)

Bridge:

‘Cause they see right through me

They see right through me

They see right through

Can you see right through me?

They see right through

They see right through me

I see right through me

I see right through me

Pre-Chorus:

All the king’s horses, all the king’s men

Couldn’t put me together again

‘Cause all of my enemies started out friends

Help me hold on to you

Chorus:

I’ve been the archer, I’ve been the prey

Who could ever leave me, darling

But who could stay?

(I see right through me, I see right through me)

Who could stay?

Who could stay?

Who could stay?

You could stay

You could stay

Outro:

Combat, I’m ready for combat

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