ENGLISCH/793: Questions to Mrs Gobbledygook (138) Troubled Water (SB)


138. A Bridge over Troubled Water

Dear Mrs Gobbledygook

You probably know the song of Simon and Garfunkel, in which they say: "like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down..." I just wondered, if you could be so kind to explain the meaning of these words to me.

Yours sincerely

Franco Piano (from Milan, Italy)


Dear Mr Piano

Thank you very much for your question. Now, as Britain is surrounded by water this had led to a lot of idioms which have to do with the sea. And very often idioms, images, metaphors or other stylistic devices are used by songwriters to hide or to disguise their message.

And that is the case with Simon and Garfunkel's "bridge over troubled water". The meaning of the expression "troubled water" is fairly easy to guess. It describes a difficult time. We sometimes use it in the plural "troubled waters".

You can say "To run into troubled waters" like in the following example:

Paul's bicycle shop was doing well but then it ran into troubled waters.

In the song you hear the singer talk about himself being a bridge over troubled water, someone who helps you over a difficult time. What is meant in the song is, "don't worry, I'm there."

Once you have run into troubled waters you are probably heading for an awkward situation - a situation that is difficult to handle. Then you 've got

into deep water

...and it's not always easy to get out. In other words: You are in it pretty deep. Meanwhile, people all around you are getting angrier and angrier with you. You're not only in deep water, you're also

in hot water

So you run into troubled waters, got into deep water and then got into hot water, but don't worry: One day you'll be able to look back on it all. Put it down to experience: It's just

water under the bridge

The expression "water under the bridge" means: what's happened is passed. It's no longer worth thinking or worrying about. It's like water under the bridge.

So, I hope you are not confused and if so, on a higher level. Mind troubled waters and if you have any more questions, you're welcome!


Mrs Gobbledygook

14 July 2008