a short site about The Divine Comedy

French version

Death Of A Supernaturalist

Lyrics & Music: Neil Hannon

Published by: Damaged Pop Music / BMG Music Publishing Ltd.

Originally interpreted by: The Divine Comedy


To see the lyrics, click on the name of the version you are interested in (on the left).




It already existed before the split of 1992, but under the name ‘Super-Natural’. Neil rewrote it in 1993. It was sometimes played in an acoustic form in 1993 and 1994, and a video of that version exists on the Sound Factory Festival promo VHS. It was played more regularly between 1997 and 2001 in a more rock style, probably very close to ‘Super-Natural’. In 1997, at the Edinburgh Festival, it was sung by Hilary Summer, accompanied by Michael Nyman.

The sample at the beginning is taken from the Ivory film A Room With A View. Neil chose it most probably because of the allusion to Dante. However, the quotation happens during a key scene of the movie. The heroin, Lucy Honeychurch (played by Helena Bonham-Carter), is torn between her engagement to Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day Lewis) and her hidden and disavowed passion for George Emerson (Julian Sands). This dilemma is also that of reason and rigidity versus nature and liberty. This is the very dilemma Neil had to undergo in 1993: either to do what reason and conformity told him to or follow his instinct and his passions. He opted for the latter. As he said once: “When I saw the Merchant Ivory movie A Room With A View, E.M. Forster changed my life beyond all recognition, really. Without A Room With A View I’d probably never have written anything I’ve written. After seeing the film I read everything by Forster. I threw off the shackles of indie-pop and I was able to write music. It was a ‘Liberation’ by name and nature.” Thus the song clearly deals with the theme of metamorphosis and as a consequence of death and rebirth (the dead skin falling away). The title is a reference to Death Of A Naturalist, a collection of poems by Northern Irish laureate poet Seamus Heaney.