In We Were Happy, Taylor Swift recalls vignettes from a happy relationship that was headed towards marriage. In the bridge, Swift reveals that although their relationship was happy, she is ending it because she is not in love anymore.
Literary Device: Epizeuxis
Epizeuxis is a literary device in which an author immediately repeats a word or phrase for emphasis. Taylor Swift uses epizeuxis in the first line of the chorus: “When it was good, baby, it was good, baby.” She deploys the same technique at the end of the second chorus, final chorus, and bridge, repeating “We were happy / We were happy.” Swift’s repetitions underscore that this was a good and happy relationship for her, heightening the sadness that it is ending.
We Were Happy is full of imagery of lights in the darkness. In the first vignette, Swift recalls
“We used to walk along the streets
When the porch lights were shinin’ bright…
Back when we had all night”
In the chorus, she refers to “the way we laughed in the dark.” The key to understanding We Were Happy is her third reference to a light in the darkness, the simile in the second verse. Swift writes:
“We used to watch the sun go down
On the boats in the water
That’s sorta how I feel right now”
Taylor Swift simultaneously provides another vignette of their happy relationship while comparing herself to a setting sun. We Were Happy is Swift casting her rosy glow over the day that is ending – her relationship – and bidding it farewell. Taylor Swift’s boyfriend is like one of the boats on the water: no longer to see where he is going after the light is gone. Taylor Swift has provided the light for his vision of the future: “your daddy’s farm we were gonna buy someday” and “you were gonna marry me.”
In Superstar, Swift extensively used astrothesia to compare her crush to a star. In We Were Happy, Swift compares herself to the sun and reflects with sadness on what it means to play the role of a setting sun in someone else’s life.
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