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All the Literary References in Taylor Swift Songs

There’s no doubt that Taylor Swift is one of the greatest songwriters in pop music, but how many pop stars can say that they incorporate English literature into their songs? From William Shakespeare to F. Scott Fitzgerald, here’s a list of all the literary work that Taylor Swift references in her songs. 

The first song is, of course, Swift’s most popular one, “Love Story,” the song is Swift’s reimagining of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and The Scarlet Letter. It’s also proof that Swift has been incorporating famous poet’s work since the beginning of her career. 

In “Wonderland,” Swift uses Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll as a metaphor of falling deeply in love without realizing the danger around, while referencing scenes from the book, such as “fell down a rabbit hole” and the “Cheshire Cat smile.”

“I knew you tried to change the ending/Peter losing Wendy” from “Cardigan” is a nod to Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, which contains themes of long-lost love, that also reflects the main theme of Swift’s eighth studio album, ‘Folklore.’

Swift often said that she loves to do a twist on a common phrase to fit her storytelling, and it is evident in songs like “Getaway Car” where she paraphrases Charles Dickens famous quote to “it was the best of time, the worst of crimes” 

Swift is clearly obsessed with The Great Gatsby, as most of us are, because she wrote not just one, but two different songs on different albums about the book by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The first is in “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” where Swift sings about a friendship that was wild and extravagant but ended because of lies. While it was a clever reference to the novel, it was also a metaphor about Swift’s public fallout with Kanye West back in 2016. Swift sings, “There are no rules when you show up here/Feeling so Gatsby for that whole year.”

The second song is “Happiness,” where Swift paraphrases Daisy’s famous line, “I hope she’ll be a beautiful fool,” to describe overcoming a breakup and learning to be happy for someone else, just like Gatsby and Daisy’s failed romance. 

It would take forever to decode all the literary references in Taylor Swift’s songs, whether it’s Emily Dickinson in “Ivy,” Robert Frost in “Illicit Affair” and “’Tis the Damn Season,” or Jane Eyre in “Invisible Strings.” One thing for sure is that Taylor Swift is a true modern-day poet. 

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