And how long did you climb that night,
with the ice in your lungs, on the rungs of the light?
Joanna Newsom, “You Will Not Take My Heart Alive” (Divers, 2015)
A woman climbs up a rope ladder in a dark gray sky. A gray heart is visible in the clouds behind her. The woman is entirely light pink. The ropes of the ladder are also pink, and its eight rungs are light blue. As she climbs, she cuts the rope of the ladder below her with a pair of scissors. The rope falls into a spiral below.
The Eight of Swords climbs up out of the four directions of the flat plane. The narrator of “You Will Not Take My Heart Alive” asserts ownership of the essence of her own heart and mind, that which remains through and past the demise of her body. But taking this ascent too soon requires separating oneself from others. The figure applies the scissors from VIII. Does Not Suffice to her own ladder. As she climbs into the cold, the physical world spirals away below her like a severed umbilical cord or vein. On a smaller scale, this card signifies isolation, loneliness, and self-imposed solitude in the pursuit of a goal.
The Eight links to the Three of Swords, which also seeks to immortalize the heart.