The Archer-Taylor Swift Lyric Analysis

Andriana Rud

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

These opening lines perfectly set up the rest of the song and its meaning. These first few lines explain Taylor’s fights and mistakes, reflecting on how she doesn’t tell people how she really feels and instead just lashes out at them, which we can clearly see by looking at her last album.

  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

The second paragraph of the lyrics goes a bit more in-depth and serious about her life. The first line is a way of talking about how easily she both attracts people and drives them away.  The second is a metaphor that explains how all of her relationships go, (platonic and romantic), that she is “on board” for the first half but then she “jumps off” and goes her own way because she can’t commit. The third line represents how child stars often have trouble growing up, as their continued fame and success into adult-hood leaves them trapped in a time where they don’t understand how to grow as a person and mature enough to handle long-term relationships. The fourth is something repeated throughout the song that we’ll touch upon later, but it seems to be directed at her new boyfriend as I mentioned in my lover review.

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

  Who could ever leave me, darling? But who could stay?

The chorus starts here and the lyrics show how Taylor has been negatively affected by people, but has also been awful to them and be the cause of the rift between the two. The first question is what I think represents her past self wondering why people keep leaving her, and the second question represents her new self-realization that she doesn’t make it easy for people to love her and needs to make changes in herself if she really wants the support of others.

  Dark side, I search for your dark side

  But what if I’m alright, right here?

  And I cut off my nose just to spite my face

  Then I hate my reflection for years and years

The next verse starts off talking about negative change and how people want to look better or appeal to others but don’t realize that they are fine the way they are. The last two lines also don’t have to be taken literally and can mean that Taylor sometimes does drastic things when she’s angry that she can’t change and regrets them for a long time.

   I wake in the night, I pace like a ghost

  The room is on fire, invisible smoke

  And all of my heroes go all alone

  Help me hold on to you

These next lines are a bit more metaphorical. Taylor talks about waking up in the night implying that she can’t sleep and the next line is meant to show how she burns bridges and starts fires with others, shown by the “invisible smoke” part. The third line shows how everybody she meets, even people she likes, eventually leave her and she knows that it’s her fault.

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

Screaming, who could ever leave me, darling?, but who could stay?

The chorus is the same, but the added word of “screaming” gives a more intense feeling and shows the building emotion in the song.

 ‘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 me (2x)

 I see right through me (2x)

These lines are a bit more simple, but I think they are referencing how all of her feuds and breakups have been public and even though she tries to put up a mask and act a certain way everybody can see how fake it is, which seems to be a direct acknowledgment of the “Reputation” album from 2017 and what a disaster that was.

   All the king’s horses and 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

The allusion to Humpty Dumpty is pretty clever, as it sets up a fairytale setting that Taylor was known for in her early country days and sets up a theme of reflecting back on her past that comes up throughout the Lover album. The next line does as well and is my favorite lyric from the song, as it is a perfect summary of the song’s message and gives a sad tone to the song since she is looking at how much she has changed throughout the years. It really drives home the point that Taylor’s enemies were all friends at one point and how she had made all of them turn around and stand against her. This is the significance of the last line, “help me hold on to you”, as Taylor is saying that because of all her past breakups and ruined friendships, she is scared that her new one will end up the same way so she wants to do everything she can to make this one last and stand the test of time.

  (Final Chorus)

  Who could stay? (4x)

  You could stay

These final few lines tie the song up nicely, with Taylor expressing her feeling that while she finally understands why it is so hard for people to get along with her, she has found true love with Joe Alwyn and wishes that he is the one to truly understand her and stick by her no matter what happens. Through all the fights, drama, and bumps in the road, Alwyn is still Taylor’s lover.


Combat, I’m ready for combat.