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'The Poet and the Pendulum' is the opening track of the album Dark Passion Play. The song is about Nightwish's main composer Tuomas Holopainen's life. It lasts almost 14 minutes, and is the longest song the band have made (Holopainen blogged in 2010 that a track from upcoming album Imaginaerum would surpass it in length, but in the end Song of Myself turned out about 20 seconds shorter). The music is highly inspired by soundtracks and film scores.

The title is a word play on the title of Edgar Allen Poe's 1842 short story The Pit and the Pendulum.

The song is divided into five parts: "White Lands of Empathica", "Home", "The Pacific", "Dark Passion Play" and "Mother & Father".

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