The meaning of the lyrics may lie in the fairly plain reference to the suits of the cards found in a traditional Rider-Waite Tarot Deck, from which the suits of modern playing cards are derived (that is, some playing cards; you will find that playing cards purchased in Italy and other European countries might retain the original Tarot suits):

The suit of Spades is derived from the Tarot suit of Swords, the suit Clubs from Wands, and the Diamonds from the Pentacles ( also known as Coins.) The suit of Hearts derives from the Tarot suit of Cups.

So we might surmise that the protagonist of this little story is truly performing a divination with the cards, but that he is reading the arcane and mysterious signs of the Tarot rather than the numbers and probabilities of normal playing cards.

It might also be suggested that the protagonist is eventually doomed to his poor fortune: it is universally understood by those that practice Tarot divination that you must never NEVER disrespect Tarot cards by using them in games of money and chance.

Sting's songs can be compared to each other to gain a good understanding of what he's attempting to convey with his lyrics. He may be singing about an aspect of himself, or it may just be a recurring character in different stories. This song is similar, at least in theme, to Fortress Around Your Heart. Fortress is a story about someone who has protected their heart for so long, and built such high walls to guard it that they have essentially created their own prison. Shape of my Heart is the introspective version.

He deals the cards as a meditation
And those he plays never suspect
He doesn't play for the money he wins
He doesn't play for the respect
He deals the cards to find the answer
The sacred geometry of chance
The hidden law of probable outcome
The numbers lead a dance

Let's call him the cardplayer. Whether he is playing cards or not is irrelevant. The game is a metaphor for the life that he has created for himself. He doesn't play this game with the same motivations as the average player. The game is his journey for truth, "to find the answer, " and is comprised of choice and chance. "The hidden laws" are only evident after play has occured. The player must "lead a dance" with his partner, the "sacred geometry of chance." Knowledge vs fate. A poker face may be great for a game of cards, but if you can't take it off when you're with a lover then you're in trouble.

I know that the spades are the swords of a soldier
I know that the clubs are weapons of war
I know that diamonds mean money for this art
But that's not the shape of my heart

The cardplayer understands how to fight and achieve. There is only one thing that is completely alien to him. Hearts are not his strong suit. He emphasizes his bewilderement by repeating like a mantra what he does know, but his own heart (and also the love of another person) is out of reach. The obvious symbolism here is the heart representing emotion and love. The "shape" of the heart on the card is a fantasy; the reality of a human heart is quite different.

He may play the jack of diamonds
He may lay the queen of spades
He may conceal a king in his hand
While the memory of it fades

Again our cardplayer is reassuring himself of what he can do. I though it interesting to find out that in a tarot deck the jack of diamonds represents the rebel and the queen of spades, betrayal. But to understand what the king is all about we need to remember one of Sting's other songs, which he did with the Police: King of Pain. Our cardplayer is hiding his pain, a pain from the past that he is trying to let go of. Could it be what hardened his heart in the first place?

I know that the spades are the swords of a soldier
I know that the clubs are weapons of war
I know that diamonds mean money for this art
But that's not the shape of my heart
That's not the shape, the shape of my heart

And if I told you that I loved you
You'd maybe think there's something wrong
I'm not a man of too many faces
The mask I wear is one
Those who speak know nothing
And find out to their cost
Like those who curse their luck in too many places
And those who smile are lost

Our character lives his life in a shell, unable to express himself to those around him. Those that know him would be caught off guard to the point of believing him to be a different person if he said, "I loved you." He is not deceitful, he only has one face, but that face is hidden behind "the mask." He is afraid of a life involving people and interaction, and he believes that those who choose that road pay a terrible price. They "curse their luck in too many places and those who smile are lost," meaning that life just ends up leaving you bitter without even your smile.

Clearly the player has resigned himself to who he is, and that's not going to change.

D e a l  m e  i n

D e a l  m e  i n

  album                - Ten Summoner's Tales
  track no             - 9;        time: 4:43
  written/performed by - Sting           1993

Also, I thought it was a great use of this song to end The Professional. The main character Leon is the character from this song. He has lived alone all his life as a hitman, and does not understand his emotions until he is forced to care for the little girl, Matilda. However, things can only end tragically for such a character.

G U I T A R  T A B L A T U R E

intro and verse

   Em               D6                 A5                B7sus4  B7 

  C/E               D6                 A5                B7sus4 B7 

  C                 C                  Gsus4 G            B7

  C                 Am                 Em

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