In the song Viva La Vida by Coldplay, it says:

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own

How can I determine if the sweep there means "sweep the streets with a broom" or "sweep my eyes across the streets"?


We know it's not talking about sweeping eyes across the street because it doesn't mention eyes at all*.

So instead, we fall back to the normal meaning of "sweep".

*To be fair, there are probably at least a few song lyrics that would confuse this a lot by making use of unusual constructions and indirect allusions. This isn't one of them; there's nothing particularly strange going on here, grammatically or metaphorically.

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