Grateful Dead

Saint Stephen

Lyrics By: Robert Hunter

Saint Stephen with a rose
In and out of the garden he goes
Country garland in the wind and the rain (note 1)
Wherever he goes the people all complain

Stephen prosper in his time
Well he may, and he may decline
Did it matter, does it now?
Stephen would answer if he only knew how

Wishing well with a golden bell
Bucket hanging clear to hell
Hell half way twixt now and then
Stephen fill it up and lower down, and lower down again

Lady finger, dipped in moonlight
Writing "What for?" across the morning sky
Sunlight splatters dawn with answers
Darkness shrugs and bids the day goodbye

Speeding arrow, sharp and narrow
What a lot of fleeting matters you have spurned
Several seasons with their treasons
Wrap the babe in scarlet colours, call it your own

Did he doubt or did he try?
Answers a-plenty in the by and by
Talk about your plenty, talk about your ills
One man gathers what another man spills (note 2)

Saint Stephen will remain
All he's lost he shall regain
Seashore washed by the suds and the foam
Been here so long he's got to calling it home

Fortune comes a-crawling, Calliope woman
Spinning that curious sense of your own
Can you answer? Yes I can
But what would be the answer to the answer man?

-----(William Tell Bridge)-----
High green chilly winds and windy vines in loops (note 3)
Around the twined shafts of lavender
They're crawling to the sun

Underfoot the ground is patched
With climbing arms of ivy wrapped
Around the manzanita stark and shiny in the breeze

Wonder who will water all the children of the garden
When they sigh about the barren lack
Of rain and droop so hungry 'neath the sky

William Tell has stretched his bow
Till it won't stretch no furthermore
And/or it will require a change that hasn't come before (Note 4)

(1) the songbooks "Grateful Dead Anthology" and "Authentic Guitar Classics Volume 2" both have "Country garden ..." for this line. But that is a mistake: Robert Hunter's "Box Of Rain" has "Country garland ..." and that sounds to be what the Dead sing. (Thanks to Sam Hoffman for pointing this out).

(2) Bobby added "Except in California" when the Dead played this on 1 March 1969. (thanks to Brian Schnapp for this).

(3) this section was omitted from the version on "Aoxomoxoa" and dropped by the Dead in versions after 1969. It was only played when "Saint Stephen" segued into The Eleven. Because of this, some have questioned whether it should really be seen as part of "The Eleven" instead of part of "Saint Stephen". But Robert Hunter includes these words under "Saint Stephen" in the lyrics in his book "Box Of Rain". Both Ratdog and The Dead began playing this section in 2003 - with The Dead's versions not always segueing into "The Eleven".

(4) in early versions (such as on "Two From The Vault") this was sung as "And when he will release it, will it pare the apple core?"

Saint Stephen