By Larry Fyffe
The Romantic Transcendentalists saved God, cast out as He was from the Universe by the Rationalist thinkers of the Enlightenment. According to many of the Romantics, God’s presence still pervades the material world; his love for all mankind is still felt by those inclined to get in touch with Nature, especially its organic aspects. Notwithstanding all the trials and tribulations that afflict Mankind on Earth, male and female, black-skinned people and white, are all part of an Absolute Oneness.
So indicates the Old Testament:
But the stranger that dwelleth with you Shall be unto you as one born among you And thou shalt love him as thyself For ye were strangers in the land of Egypt I am the the Lord your God (Leviticus 19:34)
Nevertheless, the Judeo-Christian Bible muddies the water – it contains remnants of Gnostic thought that be not so optimistic in outlook; depicted is a material world, a dark place from which, for most human beings, there be no escape. Swarming above this material world at various levels are spirits, mostly dark ones – floating angels who interact with the material world, including some pairs who are mirror images of other pairs like Archangel Samael and his mate Lolith; and earth-bound Adam and his mate Eve.
Other spirits are described in the figurative language associated with Gnosticism:
As for the likeness of their faces, they four had The face of a man, and the face of a lion on the right side And they four had the face of an ox on the left side They four also had the face of an eagle (Ezekiel 1:10)
Lying within the bodies of all humans be varying degrees of these emanations from a faraway Absolute One.
Gnostic remnants expressed in the sexually suggestive, figurative language in the biblical verse below:
The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet With the wild beasts of the island And the satyr shall cry to his fellow The screech owl shall also rest there And find herself a place of rest (Isaiah 34:14)
Melancholic poet John Keats, who influences Edgar Allan Poe, takes such a view (Keats’ depiction of ‘Lamia’ is not unlike ‘Lilith’ of Jewish lore), and he has little time for the social reformist Transcendentalist point of view since Death, the Eternal Footman, waits for us all. Keats is out to seek self-knowledge in order to save himself as best he can while in a world that appears to be beyond saving.
To quite a degree, Keats’ Gothic Romantic poetry influences the writings of musician Bob Dylan; as do the writings of Decadent Oscar Wilde:
There's not even room enough to be anywhere It's not dark yet, but it's getting there Well my sense of humanity is going down the drain Behind every beautiful thing there's some kind of pain (Bob Dylan: Not Dark Yet)
Gnostic aspects of the Holy Bible be a monkey on the back of literalist-prone interpreters, like Kees de Gaaf, who attempt to analyze the song lyrics of Bob Dylan:
Beat a path of retreat up them spiral stair cases Pass the tree of smoke, pass the angel with four faces Begging God for mercy, and weeping in unholy places Angelina, oh, Angelina, oh, Angelina (Bob Dylan: Angelina)
But hold your breath, dear reader – the firefighters from the Untold Dylan Fire Department will be right along to clear the smoke from off the muddied waters of modern Babylon:
Peace will come With tranquillity on the wheels of fire But will bring us no reward when her false idols fall And cruel death surrenders with its pale ghost retreating Between the King and Queen of Swords (Bob Dylan: Changing Of The Guards)