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My Heart Will Go On

Every night in my dreams
I see you, I feel you
That is how I know you go on

Far across the distance
And spaces between us
You have come to show you go on

Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on
[…]

There's something I never understood from the Titanic theme song. We use "go on" in the area I bolded out, and it seems like it's used to mean "You go on without me". The subject is meaning in these two instances, so I am not sure why and why there's no comma. Can someone explain me what is meant exactly?

In the other instances we see the subject, which is often "heart", so it's easy to understand.

It's sung: "That is how I know you, go on" and "You have come to show you, go on"

Also the tense is confusing.

If she said "That is how I know you went on" it would have made more sense to me and "You have come to show you went on". Is it the right tense? I think it's the right tense, but I rarely see this phrasing and I would like to know what tense is used and why.

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  • Poetry and art do not need to obey the constraints of what constitutes "proper grammar/art", this, I believe, is true in every language.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 7, 2022 at 7:59

1 Answer 1

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The meaning of "go on" here is "continue", specifically in the context of Jack and Rose, "continue to live".

This usage is not natural at all to use "go on" to mean "be alive", but there are no rules in song lyrics.

In normal life, if someone says, "That is how I know you go on", meaning "That is how I know you're still alive", it's a mistake. No native speaker would ever say that.

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  • Ah, so it's a grammar mistake? I always thought it sounded off and weird.
    – Sayaman
    Aug 7, 2022 at 3:26
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    @Sayaman Kinda. I'd say it's an intentional violation of the rules of the language for poetic ends. Celine Dion isn't a native speaker, but knows English well enough to do this on purpose.
    – gotube
    Aug 7, 2022 at 3:30
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    @Sayaman Learn something new every day. He definitely knew what he was doing
    – gotube
    Aug 7, 2022 at 3:43
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    @Sayaman The grammar is fine. Semantically, it is incorrect because "go on" never means "be alive". The phrase, "My heart will go on" makes sense because "My heart will continue beating" is perfectly natural.
    – gotube
    Aug 7, 2022 at 3:50
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    @Sayaman The phrasal verb "go on" never means "be alive". This song may be the only place in all of English where it does. It's beyond the scope of this site to discuss what can be a metaphor for what. Maybe try Literature.SE or Writing.SE?
    – gotube
    Aug 7, 2022 at 4:02

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