There is this beautiful poem I heard on "The Fall" (british tv show).

There was a man of double deed,
Who sowed his garden full of seed;
When the seed began to grow,
'Twas like a garden full of snow;
When the snow began to melt,
'Twas like a ship without a belt;
When the ship began to sail,
'Twas like a bird without a tail;
When the bird began to fly,
'Twas like an eagle in the sky;
When the sky began to roar,
'Twas like a lion at my door;
When my door began to crack,
'Twas like a stick across my back;
When my back began to smart,
'Twas like a penknife in my heart;
And when my heart began to bleed,
'Twas death, and death, and death indeed.

What does "man of double deed" mean? I guess it has some negative connotation, like a person leading double life, being double-faced, hypocritical, etc. But maybe I'm wrong.

The assumption is based on the fact that the poem is cited by the double-faced antagonist of the show.

  • it just mean two deeds, and it's used for rhyming here. I don't think one can ascribe a particular meaning to it. As for belt, I haven't heard of a ship's belt and I'm rather attuned to nautical meanings.... – Lambie Mar 23 '18 at 17:05
  • All I can think of is a safety belt? In modern terms, something by which you hook yourself via a line to a mast or other part of a sailing ship. – Lambie Mar 23 '18 at 17:12
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's opinion-based Lit Crit – FumbleFingers Mar 23 '18 at 17:26
  • @Lambie, the poem is couple of centuries old, there probably was some particular meaning for the belt, aside from something to hook yourself to a mast, because ship without that kind of belt would be completely alright I guess :) Thanks for the resopnse though! – r2r23 Mar 23 '18 at 17:30
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    ...note that there's an alternative (probably, earlier) version of the poem that starts with A man of words and not of deeds \ Is like a garden full of weeds. – FumbleFingers Mar 23 '18 at 17:31

According to a brief discussion on our sister site

What means double deed?

double deed

is a contraction of

double indeed

When we wish to imply a strong assertion we may use the word indeed, it's can have a slightly archaic feel

Is he a reliable witness?

Indeed not!

We might strongly assert an intention

Indeed I will be (performing some action)

or determination not to do something

Indeed I not do that

From that a rather informal, perhaps child-like, stronger assertion

Indeed and indeed and double indeed I will not (perform action)

And this contracts to

Deed and deed and double deed ...

An example of this formulation being given in

In Adventures of Tom Sawyer, there is a dialogue going on between Tom and Becky:

Yes I do, indeed I do. Please let me.

You'll tell.

No I won't—deed and deed and double deed won't.

You won't tell anybody at all.

Also ships do have belts, it's a term for reinforced armour of warships.

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    Tom Sawyer has nothing to do with this, it's a different case. Do you realy think "double deed" in this poem = "double indeed"? – r2r23 Mar 24 '18 at 11:40
  • Indeed I do. The man who is doubly assertive of his position, but may of course be unreliable. – djna Mar 24 '18 at 12:45
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    Double deed I don't! – sepehr Mar 26 '18 at 9:35
  • [What does double deed mean?] – Lambie Dec 12 '19 at 0:38
  • As I said, I believe that it means a strong assertion of a position. "do you believe that", "indeed I do" - assertion "deed and double deed I do" - strong assertion – djna Dec 12 '19 at 8:05

Yes, when someone tells a lie for personal gain, feigned allegiance, or intentional misleading. The double deed is saying one thing to cover or hide his true feelings or intention.


I think the poem is about a man who lied about something and was found out. Started out good, made him look cool, and it all began to fall apart when the truth of the matter came out and he suffered the scorn and humiliation of everyone seeing him for who and what he really was in life.

  • Are you talking specifically about the phrase “man of double deed”? That is what OP wanted to know. Could you edit your post to address that. – Em. Nov 10 '19 at 9:52

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