Smiler With Knife - meaning update

the misnomers

New Member
I have started a new thread here because the old ones are all read only. Regardless, while I really enjoyed the previous threads About possible meanings, I just stumbled upon what I believe is likely the main inspiration for Smiler With Knife. Truman Capote’s “Other Voices, Other Rooms.” It’s about a young boy who discovers his sexuality while dealing with finding his deadbeat dad. The boy, Joel, specifically describes a “smiler with knife” during a reflective moment about love and also there is a very poignant (and important) moment in the book when Randolph (an openly gay character) says he just wants someone to tell him it will all be ok.

Read the book and let me know. As I was reading it, it felt obvious to me that this was the inspiration for the song, but I wonder if others agree.


ladies bear (inquire within)
one of my favourite books. I recently reread it but I totally missed the "smiler with knife" part! I'm surprised at myself, I'd have thought that would've stood out for me.

Famous when dead

A good read.

"Miss Wisteria stood so near he could smell the rancid wetness of her shriveled silk; her curls had uncoiled, the little crown had slipped awry, her yellow sash was fading its color on the floor. “Little boy,” she said, swerving her flashlight over the bent, broken walls where her midget image mingled with the shadows of things in flight. “Little boy,” she said, the resignation of her voice intensifying its pathos. But he dared not show himself, for what she wanted he could not give: his love was in the earth, shattered and still, dried flowers where eyes should be, and moss upon the lips, his love was faraway feeding on the rain, lilies frothing from its ruin. Withdrawing, she went up the stairs, and Joel, who listened to her footfalls overhead as she in her need of him searched the jungle of rooms, felt for himself ferocious contempt: what was his terror compared with Miss Wisteria’s? He owned a room, he had a bed, any minute now he would run from here, go to them. But for Miss Wisteria, weeping because little boys must grow tall, there would always be this journey through dying rooms until some lonely day she found her hidden one, the smiler with the knife."


the misnomers

New Member
I had never read it before. I had only read his short fiction until recently when I finally read In Cold Blood which was amazing. So I picked up Other Voices, Other Rooms. I was on the lookout though because I was under the impression the Cure song “Other Voices” nicked its title from this book.

vegan.cro spirit #428

Could it be the song deals with the rash of knife attacks that has terrorized the UK?


ladies bear (inquire within)
oh gosh, if it turns out that he's a fan of 'other voices, other rooms' too, then ill know we were meant to be!! :p

probably this has already been mentioned before in one of those other threads, but I typed "smiler with knife" into google (because what, I wanted to know, is a 'smiler' exactly? is it just someone who smiles? and is "smiler with knife" an actual expression that I don't know about?), and apparently it's originally from chaucers the knights tale:

There I first saw the dark imaginings
of felony, and all the scheming;
the cruel ire, red as any glowing coal,
the pick-purse, and yes pale dread;
the smiler with the knife under the cloak,
the stable burning with the black smoke;
the treason and the murder in the bed;
the open war with wounds blood-covered;
strife, with bloody knife and sharp menace

but I don't see how that helps to explain the meaning of the song.

Quando quando quando

Well-Known Member
This song is about Death.
Death is the smiler with knife.
But it is also the other Moz, his friend and in a way, Moz sings about the gentle pain releasing him from another much bigger pain.

At the same time you hear sorrow about the wonderful things of life that has to be given up.

Cause he knows you can’t win or defeat a power that is so much bigger than you. You have to surrender when that moment is there.

That is what he is singing about and in a strange way the music at a certain point is expressing the moment you pass.

It is his way of dealing with death and (his own) mortality and I think it is a wonderful, creative and daring song about a not so common subject in pop music as a whole.
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