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Are these two phrases both the same meaning? I would say "a dead soul" or "a soul that has died", how can I understand "a soul that dies"?

More context here: this was found in a song lyrics.

I wonder is there hope for us
A place where we can all be free
I wonder is there life inside a soul that dies?
I wonder is there hope for us
To lift me up I don't know when
I'll see the sun again
I'd like to feel alive
Just one more time

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  • Would you have additional context for your examples?
    – Peter
    Feb 28, 2018 at 8:09
  • @Peter more context added!
    – preachers
    Feb 28, 2018 at 8:23

2 Answers 2

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In your example, there is a big difference between using

a soul that dies

and

a dead soul
a soul that has died

since the lyrics of your song is contrasting how a soul is before and after death, whereas the last two examples already assume the soul is dead. The first phrase does not make this assumption, but leaves open the possibility that death may occur.

EDIT:

In Western Christian thought, a soul is what is left of a person after they die, being synonymous to spirit. The soul itself does not physically die as the body does. However, one's moral compass is also referred to as one's soul. So, in a metaphoric sense if one's soul dies, one has lost their moral bearings, usually this is referred to as

losing one's soul

So, depending on what you mean you could say

I wonder, is there life inside a soul when it dies.

but better might be

I wonder, is there life in a soul when it dies.

You would also need to supply context for what you mean by "life".

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  • So, can I consider this sentence as "I wonder, is there life inside a soul when it dies"?
    – preachers
    Feb 28, 2018 at 8:45
  • nitpick: "In Western Christian thought, a soul is what is left of a person after they die, being synonymous to spirit." Not quite accurate at all. The soul is what animates the body. Death is the separation of soul from body.
    – eques
    Feb 28, 2018 at 15:08
  • You have given me a detailed answer to what a soul is all about. However, what I really want to know is what the word "die" means when used in present tense. Whether it has any difference in meaning from its past tense/perfect tense form.
    – preachers
    Mar 1, 2018 at 6:39
  • "His soul dies every time his team loses.", "His soul died every time his team lost." both have the same meaning, the first also projects into the future, the second only talks about the past, but in the context people will understand if his team loses again, his soul will die again. HTH.
    – Peter
    Mar 4, 2018 at 14:32
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Note that song lyrics, like poetry, often make grammatical choices that are less about strict word meaning than about having the correct number of syllables or patterns of stress (the latter is formally called metric structure or just metre).

In the song lyric you've posted, every line (except possibly the last one) is made up of iambs; that is, alternating weak and strong syllables that give you a "da-DUM-da-DUM-da-DUM" pattern. Presumably this matches the strong and weak beats in the music.

If we look at the line that you're asking about, and I bold the stressed syllables, you get this:

I won-der is there life in-side a soul that dies?

That's perfect "iambic hexameter" (six sets of weak-strong pairs).

If we try out the changes you suggest:

  1. I won-der is there life in-side a dead soul?

That's five iambs with one extra stressed syllable tacked on the end.

  1. I won-der is there life in-side a soul that has died?

That's five iambs, then an extra unstressed syllable, and then another iamb.

With songs, as opposed to poetry, you can fake the metre a bit by adding in extra syllables between the beats of the music or dropping them out, so the beats of the song stay constant while the pattern of the words gets a bit more irregular. But songwriters who consider themselves poets often to try to stick to a regular metre when possible, even when that means making unusual vocabulary or grammatical choices.

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  • Really helpful information, I didn't even think of that. Thank you! However, my main problem is to use "die" correctly in its present simple tense. In my experience, "die" is always in its continuous/perfect/past simple tense form. It looks strange to me when it is used in present simple tense.
    – preachers
    Mar 1, 2018 at 6:50
  • @preachers - Present simple is also used for habitual or generally-applicable statements. For example, "Everyone tries to postpone death, but in the end, everyone dies." You could understand this phrase "a soul that dies" as being equivalent to "any soul that might die." That is, it's a question about souls in general, not about one particular soul. Mar 1, 2018 at 16:58

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