Bob Dylan And Faith (Part II)

Bob Dylan On Faith (Part 1)

by Larry Fyffe

According to Paul Thomas, Bob Dylan’s “hymn” ‘Every Grain Of Sand’ has “very little to do with the thought, faith, or poetry of William Blake”; instead  the song “unequivocally” expresses “his faith in God. Not Blake’s God, nor the God of the Vineyard Fellowship, but the One God prayed to twice daily, once during daylight, and once at night”. (Every Grain Of Sand, A Perfect Finished Plan – Part I).

When Dylan talked about the song, Thomas says of it:

“Dylan affirms his religious belief,and his dependence on the Bible, and Blake is not alluded to amongst the ten names of stars, writers, and singers that he mentions”.

Whatever Dylan’s religious beliefs may or may not be, I know not, but Thomas asserts that ‘Every Grain Of Sand’ establishes that the singer/songwriter’s faith lies firmly in the Judaic concept of the God with Jesus as “some part of ourselves”, but certainly not part of the mysterious, unknowable  One God.

But Paul Thomas is among those who think that they can outguess Bob Dylan. Poet William Blake does indeed have a very strong influence on the singer’s imaginative cosmological outlook that is expressed in Dylan’s written lyrics trough metaphors, symbols, and images:

I go right where all things lost are made good again
I sing the songs of experience like William Blake
I have no apologies to make
(Bob Dylan: I Contain Multitudes)

Good-striving Jesus, not the individual who is usurped by orthodox religion, but He who, to varying degrees, be part of humankind, even altogether absent from individuals thereof, the Jesus, who is not a part of  an unknowable God, but instead part of the Universe, an infinite world detectable by the senses possessed by the body of the human being, and describable by the imaginative processes of the human mind….epitomized by the artist:

To see the world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower
Hold  Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
(William Blake: Auguries Of Innocence)

Mankind is God-the-Creator:

Did he smile his work to see
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
(William Blake: The Tiger ~ The Songs Of Experience)

The poet also creates ‘The Lamb’:

Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee?
Little Lamb, I'll tell thee
Little Lamb, I'll tell thee!
He is called by thy name
For he calls himself a Lamb
He is meek, and he is mild
He became a little child
(William Blake: The Lamb ~ The Songs Of Innocence)

Another poem:

I wondered through each chartered street
Near where the chartered Thames does flow
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe
(William Blake: London ~ Songs Of Experience)

Renewed Blakean the following song lyrics be ~ a word-painting of entangled reality, not of entangled abstraction:

In the bitter dance of loneliness fading into space
In the broken mirror of innocence of each forgotten face
I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand
(Bob Dylan: Every Grain Of Sand)

The above song lyrics snipping fragments from the poem below:

And did those feet in ancient times
Walk upon England's mountain green
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
(William Blake: Jerusalem ~ Milton/Auguries Of Innocence)

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