Can Bob Be Saved (Part VII): Open The Door William

by Larry Fyffe

Previously in this series

English poet William Blake opens the door for personal mythologies – no adherent to the Established Church is he:

If the doors of perception were cleansed
Every thing would appear to man as it is - Infinite
For man has closed himself up
Til he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern
(William Blake: The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell)

According to the pre-Romantic above, although man’s brain be enclosed in a skull, the intuitive imagination of the mind is capable of  communicating to others via creative language a vision of happiness that exists beyond bodily sensations.

According to Blake, orthodox religion pre-empts the expansion of the human imagination by building solid walls of dogma designed to prevent even the experiencing of physical joy on the part of i parishioners.

A vision by the Daniel-like poet:

And the gates of this Chapel were shut
And "Thou shalt not" writ over the door ....
And priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds
And  binding with briars, my joys and desires
(Willian Blake: The Garden Of Love)

The season of winter, personified as an old bearded man by Blake, is a tyrant who bounds humanity in the iron chains of law and reason:

O winter, bar thine adamantine doors
The north is thine, there hath thou built thy dark
Deep-founded habitation; shake not thy roofs
Nor bind thy pillars with thine iron car
(William Blake: To Winter)

Below, the energetic, high-flying spiritual eagle is led astray by the materialistic city-dwelling crow:

The eagle never lost so much time
As when he submitted to learn from the crow
(William Blake: Proverbs Of Hell)

Having dealt extensively with Blakean mythology in a number of previous articles, let us move on to  the personal mythology of singer/songwriter Bob Dylan. He envisions the United States as a Promised Land that’s been corrupted. Spiritualism has gone with the wind; America (it’s national Seal being that of an eagle grasping arrows in one of its claws) becomes the New Babylon where lots of its people worship the golden calf of the Almighty Dollar – a materialistically oriented  religion that includes the commercialisation of love and sex.

In the song below, it’s a hell of a place from which to escape, or so the song can be interpreted;  escaping is worth a try even if it’s only through the creative imagination:

I'm gonna walk across the desert 'til I'm in my right mind
I won't even think about what I left behind
Nothing back there anyway that I can call my own
Go back home, leave me alone
(Bob Dylan: Narrow Way)

Seems to say the song ~ it’s now up to God to show if things are going to change, and He needs to hurry up about it:

It's a long road, it's a long and narrow way
If I can't work up to you
You'll surely have to work down to me some day
(Bob Dylan: Narrow Way)

In days of yore, according to the Holy Bible, God has no trouble dealing with the wayward King of Babylon who gets his due punishment, and it has the desired effect – Nebuchadnezzar changes his evil ways:

And he was driven away from men
And did eat grass as oxen
And his body was wet the dew of heaven
Till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers
And his nails like birds' claws
(Book Of Daniel 4:33)

Venom-mouthed Dylan paints a word picture of the New Babylon, the Mother of Harlots and the Abominations of the Earth; it’s certainly not a flattering portrait. But the gal’s attractive, and hard to resist:

I got a heavy stacked woman with a smile on her face
And she has crowned my soul with grace
I'm still hurting from an arrow that pierced my chest
I'm gonna have to take my head, and bury it between your breasts
(Bob Dylan: Narrow Way)

Thus speaks the walking contradiction – partly truth, and partly fiction.

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  1. And he was driven from men
    And did eat grass as oxen
    And his body was wet with the dew of heaven
    Till his hairs were grown like eagle’s feathers
    And his nails like birds’ claws.

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