Chapter 24

Chapter 24
"Chapter 24"
Song by Pink Floyd from the album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Released August 5, 1967
Recorded February-June 1967
Genre Psychedelic rock
Length 3:41
Label Columbia/EMI (UK) Capitol (US)
Writer Syd Barrett
Producer Norman Smith
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn track listing
"The Gnome"
"Chapter 24"
"The Scarecrow"

"Chapter 24" is the title of a song from Pink Floyd's 1967 LP The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.[1][2] It was written by Syd Barrett and its lyrics are inspired by text from chapter 24 of the ancient Chinese tome I Ching (The Book of Changes).


I Ching

Fû hexagram.

The translation Barrett referenced is not known, but phrases from the lyric can be found in the Wilhelm and Baynes translation of 1950,[3] and the Legge translation of 1899.[4] The former is more poetic, but the latter has greater detail. Chapter 24 explains the significance of the Fû ("returning") hexagram.

"A movement is accomplished in six stages..." – The lyric's opening line appears to be taken from the I Ching's instructions for performing a divination, which is accomplished in six stages, one for each row of the hexagram, and is used to select a hexagram and its corresponding chapter.

"...and the seventh brings return..." – A significant theme of this chapter is that the subject may freely come and go without great trouble, although the last row of the hexagram (the top row) takes the contrary position. A journey lasting six days is implied, and "in seven days comes his return" (Legge translation).

"...for seven is the number of the young light..." – This may be a corruption of the I Ching's divination instructions which translate yarrow stalk castings into numerical values: "seven is (the number of) the young yang". But Barrett is clearly singing "light", not "yang", on the record. "Young yang" is a changing yang (the unbroken line of a hexagram, as seen at the bottom of the hexagram for this chapter, is called yang; see footnotes to Legge's chapter 1[5] for a detailed explanation). "Young light" may also refer to the sun at winter solstice (see below).

"...change returns success..." – The first line of the Wilhelm and Baynes translation is: "Return. Success." – a summary of the Fû hexagram.

"...going and coming without error..." – This references "going in and coming out without error" (from Wilhelm and Baynes, second line of the translation), and refers to the meaning of the third row of the hexagram, counting from the bottom (from Legge).

"...action brings good fortune..." – The first and second rows (from the bottom) both indicate "good fortune".

"...sunset, sunrise..." (latter word added in repeats of the chorus) – This refers to winter solstice (see next line): the longest night of the year, the greatest length of time between sunset and sunrise.

"The time is with the month of winter solstice, when the change is due to come..." – Fû also symbolizes the eleventh month, which contains the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, when the length of daylight changes from becoming shorter each day, to longer each day.

"...thunder in the other course of heaven..." – Each hexagram can also be viewed as two trigrams: the bottom three rows (inner trigram) and top three rows (outer trigram). Fû is composed of trigrams for thunder and earth. The lyric may inadvertently refer to chapter 25's "Wú Wàng" hexagram, composed of the trigrams for thunder and heaven.

Note: This analysis does not cover all lines of the lyric.

Cover versions

Jesu performed a version of this song on Like Black Holes in the Sky: The Tribute to Syd Barrett.



  1. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2004). The Great Rock Discography (7th ed.). Edinburgh: Canongate Books. p. 1177. ISBN 1-84195-551-5. 
  2. ^ Mabbett, Andy (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-4301-X. 
  3. ^ I Ching, chapter 24, Wilhelm and Baynes translation, 1950, at Canta Forda Computer Laboratory
  4. ^ I Ching, chapter 24, Legge translation, 1899, at Internet Sacred Texts Archive
  5. ^ I Ching, chapter 1, Legge

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