Interpretations:Poison Flowers

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This song is pretty self-explanatory. It's about a guy who wants something to destroy things with him.


I related to this song a lot. I believe that its about the larger than life dreams of young people. I typically form elaborate plans, and then try to carry them out with my friends. I think the Flans used "super villainesque" style for the narrator because Super Villains always have huge planet-shaking plans, more than any other archetype. -Random Cowboy


I think that deep down inside EVERYBODY wants some evil helper robots. This song is simply putting that nefarious desire into words. -DTG


This seems a bit more deep than just wanting someone to blow stuff up with. I think the speaker is a guy who has this evil exterior but in the end just wants to be loved. He needs to express this, but he's afraid to drop the evil image so he asks someone to engage in evil acts with him, although that's not what he truly wants. -synergy


I think this song is about the end of summer vacation. It's sung from the point of view of the kid who kind of pretends he's an evil genius or something (think Calvin, from Calvin & Hobbes). I can't explain it very well, but Random Cowboy up there has the right idea. -Spiraling Shape


I think the evil or bad stuff is just for effect. It seems to me to be about someone, probably a kid, who either wants something or someone he lost or something or someone he's never had. It's either about loss followed by longing or absense with longing. -VolatileChemical


This is pretty clearly about the magic of childhood and summer vacation, given references to sandals stained with cherry soda, riding one's bike when one's back in school, lifeguard stations, and so on. If you don't think death rays, bombs, and poison have anything to do with the magic of childhood, you may never have been an adolescent or prepubescent boy. Longing enter into it, really - with that chorus enthusiastically shouting "We will, we will!" we can be sure the speaker's got a gang of friends with him.

That said, it would be pretty funny if it actually WERE a song about longing and the desire to be loved. Imagine it sung by a young English schoolboy, without the chorus, in a slow, somber tempo, like something sentimental from "Oliver!"

See what I mean?

I think you're right. I see a theme of mourning the loss of carefree childhood in a number of Mr. Flansburgh's songs, "Unsupervised" being another good example. I disagree that you must have been a boy to have had an imagination filled with dire world-domination schemes, bombs, poison flowers, etc. Kids have florid imaginations, and girls do not all dream in bunnies and pink hearts, for sure. ~Christina Miller, March 2007
True; I didn't mean to imply that girls never crave mayhem and 'splosions. Come to think of it, I first heard of "Poison Flowers" from someone who thought it would be a good theme song for the webcomic Narbonic, which features a woman mad scientist who is into death rays, bombs, poison AND pink hearts (and whose author, incidentally, is a TMBG fan.) [~J. Wells, March 2007]

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Having made the comment above, I must mention that I love this song (which is neither here nor there in interpretation), but I'm interested that no one has picked out the obvious case of poison flowers in English literature, the Nathaniel Hawthorne short shory, "Rappaccini's Daughter."


In the story, Rappaccini raises his only child, a beautiful girl, in a garden of poison flowers. She tends them behind the high wall of the garden, and men who look over the wall fall in love with her beauty. To kiss her is death, because she has become imbued with their deadly poison.


If he *is* referencing this, then the narrator is a Beatrice, growing his poison flowers in his walled garden, waiting for someone to love him enough to brave death, and finally to become poisonous as well, so they can live in the garden with him. Conversely, the narrator could be the love-stricken Giovanni, yearning for the girl poisoned by her father.


I don't think this is a major theme in the song, I agree the predominant meaning is about loss of childhood buddies, of childhood fun, but that lonely idea of the poisonous girl waiting for her Giovanni is in there, because he choses "poison flowers" as the chorus and the title.

~Christina Miller, March 2007


I wanted to add that I think the first verse is from the perspective of a child, while the second seems slightly more mature. A bomb seems like a more realistic weapon of destruction than a death ray, and the second verse talks about a summer job, while the first talks about school. --DoubleDenial (talk) 19:24, 25 February 2018 (EST)