The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer


Taylor Swift Enters Her Poetry Era

‘The Tortured Poets Department’ and ‘The Anthology’: the singer’s back-to-back devastating dual album release set new records
“The Tortured Poets Department” invites the listener into the mind of a tormented artist with a melancholic, dark academia aesthetic. 

“All’s Fair in Love and Poetry” — Taylor Swift said as she entered her latest era by releasing two albums in one night. The first album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” was released at midnight on April 19. Two hours later, she surprised her fans with “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology.” Both albums combined feature 31 songs.

During the 66th Grammy Awards ceremony on Feb. 4, the songwriter delivered a surprise during her acceptance speech for winning her 13th Grammy Award for best pop vocal album for “Midnights.” Swift revealed a long-kept secret — her forthcoming album, “The Tortured Poets Department.” 

“The Tortured Poets Department” and “The Anthology” are a “collection of events, opinions, and sentiments from a fleeting and fatalistic moment in time,” the singer wrote in an Instagram post. This album encompasses the idea of a writer releasing their pain through tears that fall onto paper, now transformed into black ink. Left alone to write their saddest stories with only a typewriter. The tortured poet can only feel free once their pain is released, once the stages of grief conclude. The pieces of themselves are spread throughout different pages, but the stories no longer belong to them; they belong to the next person who decides to read them. 

The album “The Tortured Poets Department” shattered records within hours of its release, making it the first album on Spotify to receive over 300 million streams in a single day, according to Forbes. Swift even broke her record for the largest sales week for an album on vinyl in modern times. The album sold 1.5 million copies in its first week; 700,000 of those copies were vinyl. According to Billboard, “The Tortured Poets Department” is the fastest album to reach one billion Spotify streams in just five days.

This song makes me wonder — Why is the rumor so loud but the truth so quiet?

Both albums are soft and melancholy; Swift sounds as if she is whispering until the music builds up with the tone of her voice. The production uses quiet synths and minimal drum machines to create a subtle sound. They are distinguished by their extensive lyrics, resulting in a conversational approach to songwriting. As for her lyrics, Swift utilizes metaphors, similes and symbolism to establish a bridge between her work and reality, thus providing a profound insight into the mind of a tortured poet.

Swift correlates her life to Greek mythology, comparing herself to Cassandra, a Greek princess gifted with prophecy, but cursed by the god Apollo never to be believed and ultimately meet her demise. “Cassandra” is a poignant commentary on society’s tendency to rush to judgment when someone is perceived to be at fault. “When it’s ‘burn the bitch,’ they’re shrieking,” but when the truth is revealed, the same crowd falls silent, “when the truth comes out it’s quiet.” This song makes me wonder — Why is the rumor so loud but the truth so quiet? 

“Cassandra” is connected to another track called “The Prophecy,” where the singer asks the sky whom to reach to change her prophecy. She doesn’t seek money but rather companionship. Furthering her parallel to Cassandra, Swift asks if her prophecy can change.

I’ve always connected deeply with this artist’s music, but I’ve never shed tears as I did for the track called “Loml.”

In the song “Florida!!!,” Swift connects flighty feelings and the portrayal of crime in the media. Specifically, the idea that people flee the law to seek out sunny locations, such as Florida, when attempting to evade consequences. Swift sees this as a metaphor for reinventing oneself after heartbreak while seeking a place to disappear and start anew. 

The song I anticipated most was “So Long, London,” since track five is always the most vulnerable piece on each Swift album. This song symbolizes a farewell, bidding goodbye to someone she spent her life with in London and letting go of the memories as they stay behind in the city. She expresses her regrets and tries to find clues about whether he truly loved her, accepting that she’s not the one and must leave a place she loved for so long.

I’ve always connected deeply with this artist’s music, but I’ve never shed tears as I did for the track called “Loml.” The pain of realizing that something you believed was for all time is only momentary is devastating. The artist wishes she could forget her past love and wonders if the ghosts of her past — symbolized by dancing phantoms — would be ashamed of her broken state. The lyrics mention rings and cradles, hinting at the artist’s wishes before any hearts were shattered, as she changed the lyrics to describe her lover as the loss of her life.

The album’s most potent track, titled “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?” Swift screams this question, highlighting how the media have negatively portrayed her throughout her career. Having faced hate and slander, she sings, “Is it a wonder I broke? Let’s hear one more joke.” Her lyrics are a poignant reminder of the toll that fame can take, comparing this instance to being raised in an asylum. 

Swift ends the album with “The Manuscript,” a melancholic ending about a tortured poet passing on their anthology to someone else. “Now and then I re-read the manuscript,” she sings. “But the story isn’t mine anymore.”

This album resembles a fine wine, as its flavor improves with time. Given its length, it requires time and attention to appreciate each track fully. Since the album’s release, I’ve developed a strong affinity for this introspective collection of songs by this tortured poet and her anthology.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
ANDREA RIVAS, Staff Writer

Comments (0)

The Observer reserves the right to remove any comments that contain any of the following: threats or harassment, hateful language and/or slurs, spam (including advertisements unrelated to the topic of a given post), and incoherent phrasing. See the Community Guidelines page under the About tab for more information. Please allow up to a few days for submitted comments to be approved.
All The Observer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *