Does ' sing a song" here mean literally 'sing"?

  • Whatever form it takes, there is in happiness the kind of constant which enjoyment cannot bring us: happiness does not lie in filling time with delight; it is what makes my one life worthwhile. It sings a song of significance in the center of my soul. What makes me happy when I look back on my life as years go by is that I have done something with it that had meaning.*
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    Who or what do you think is “literally” singing in the center of someone’s soul?
    – ColleenV
    Jan 11, 2021 at 15:45
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    IMO the author has deliberately written an alliterative sentence – with verbs and nouns all beginning with the s sound. Jan 11, 2021 at 15:49
  • Back in the 70s somebody wrote a book about Bob Dylan called Sing a Song of Significance - probably punning on Sing a Song of Sixpence, which was originally "pirate slang" (six pence plus a hipflask of rye whisky being the pirate's weekly wage). But apart from that long-forgotten book, the Significance version has no currency, so it's POB Jan 11, 2021 at 16:09
  • @ColleenV Actually, I know it does not mean literally 'sing'. I wonder about it. Which word or phrase can replace this?
    – user70732
    Jan 12, 2021 at 9:04
  • @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica Look at your own source! If you scroll down in says The "pirate slang" story was created to parody urban myths by snopes. It was supposed to be so ridiculous that it could never become an urban myth itself....snopes.com/fact-check/mostly-true-stories
    – James K
    Jan 25, 2021 at 21:59

1 Answer 1


No, it's a metaphor. Note he says "sing ... in the center of my soul". You can't literally sing in the center of your soul. (Or at least, I'm not sure what that would mean.) The writer is using the word sing as a metaphor, a symbol, for "experience" or "feel".

  • @jat Actually, I know it does not mean literally 'sing'. I wonder about it. Which word or phrase can replace this?
    – user70732
    Jan 11, 2021 at 17:36
  • Anything literal will not sound as poetic. I presume what the writer literally means is, "It makes me think about things of significance" or "It makes me feel significant."
    – Jay
    Jan 11, 2021 at 18:20
  • can it mean "It brings a sense of happiness and satisfaction to my soul"?
    – user70732
    Jan 26, 2021 at 19:55
  • @user70732 Yes. I tried to replace the word "sing" without changing the other key word in the sentence, "significance". But if you want a somewhat freer rewording, yes, you''ve caught the essence of it.
    – Jay
    Jan 27, 2021 at 15:39
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    I really, really do not understand people don't accept clear, simple answers like these. I guess they are looking for eggs in their beer.
    – Lambie
    Mar 1, 2021 at 19:43

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