Bob Dylan And Mythology (Part V)

This article follows from

By Larry Fyffe

To the Gnostics, the physical world is a dark place created by a Demiurge from which very few humans escape:

Live self for self
And drown the gods in me
Or crush their viperheads beneath my feet
(Dylan Thomas: Let Me Escape)

A sentiment that singer/songwriter Bob Dylan expresses in some of his song lyrics:

You know the streets are filled with vipers
Who've lost all ray of hope
(Bob Dylan: Don't Fall Apart On Me Tonight)

In Greek and Roman mythology, the heroes thereof, like Ulysses from the Sirens, often find a way to escape their tormenters:

Well, I sailed through the storm
Strapped to the mast
Oh, but our time has come
And I'm seeing the real you at last
(Bob Dylan: Seeing The Real You At Last)

There be Christian writers who, because the physical world is part of God’s creation, are quite willing to endure its trials and tribulations. In their search for a better world on Earth, Heaven can wait:

Canst Thou look from Thy pure height and love us
May our earth-clogged feet to Thee arise? ....
Shine into our sin's dark hiding places
Fill us, flood us with Thy cleansing light!
(Lucy Larcom: Be Ye Therefore Perfect)

Rather more cynical are the lyrics below:

When a man he serves the Lord
It makes his life worthwhile
It don't matter 'bout his position
It don't matter 'bout his lifestyle
Talk about perfection, I ain't never seen none
And there ain't no man righteous, no not one
(Bob Dylan: No Man Righteous)

Unlike Larcom, the singer/songwriter does not give God, or Jesus, a free pass; nevertheless, he brings Lucy’s long forgotten poetry back to life:

Tell me straight if you will
Why must you torture me within
Why must you come down off your high hill
Throw my fate to the clouds and wind?
(Bob Dylan: Tell Ol' Bill)

Like Zeus, who is the mythological God of Thunder, the Judeo-Christian God can be mean; the writer’s black humour abounding, a modern technological invention provides a means to escape God’s wrath by throwing one’s fate to the clouds and wind:

Thunder on the mountain, heavy as can be
Mean old twister bearing down on me
All the ladies in Washington scrambling to get out of town
Look like something bad gonna happen, better roll your airplane down
(Bob Dylan: Thunder On The Mountain)

As already noted, the God of Thunder be more inclined to intervene in the lives of mere mortals, for better or for worse:

The trial was bad enough
But this is ten times worse
Just then a bolt of lightning
Struck the courthouse out of shape
And while everybody knelt to pray
The drifter did escape
(Bob Dylan: Drifter's Escape)

What else is on the site?

We have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with over 3600 active members.  (Try imagining a place where it is always safe and warm).  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

You’ll find some notes about our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page of this site.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.

The index to all 601 Dylan compositions and co-compositions that we have found on the A to Z page.

If you are interested in Dylan’s work from a particular year or era, your best place to start is Bob Dylan year by year.

On the other hand if you would like to write for this website, or indeed have an idea for a series of articles that the regular writers might want to have a go at, please do drop a line with details of your idea, or if you prefer, a whole article to

And please do note our friends at  The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, plus links back to our reviews (which we do appreciate).

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