Bob Dylan In Search of Eden

By Larry Fyffe

According to the Holy Bible, the Almighty One drives Adam and Eve out of earthly paradise after Eve disobeys God’s order. She’s temped by the Devil into having a taste of the Tree of Knowledge of Good And Evil; that is, into an experience of sensual delight, apparently including sex; what’s more, as further punishment, the couple will never again be able to eat from the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden which gives them immortality; the gates are sealed forever, but left to them is a second chance – the possibility of rising to a heavenly, albeit asexual, paradise after they drop dead:

So He drove out the man
And He placed at the east of the Garden of Eden cherubims
And a flaming sword which turned every way
To keep the way of the Tree of Life
(Genesis 3: 24)

In the mythic, symbolic, and Blakean-like song lyrics beneath, the cherubim angel is transformed into the shape of a western gunslinger who carries a lighted candle rather than a flaming sword; he rides (foremost/fore-est?) ahead of the dark and cloudy, rather Puritan, skies – the candle, a symbol  of hope regained (albeit a dim one) of a peaceful and joyful existence in the Promised Land of spacious America:

Upon four-legged forest clouds
The cowboy angel rides
With his candle lit into the sun 
Though it's glow is waxed in black
All except when 'neath the trees of Eden
(Bob Dylan: Gates Of Eden)

Dimmed the prospect be by the rise of industrialzed cities – concrete and over-populated that are under the control of violent and iron-hearted police:

The lamppost stands with folded arms
Its iron claws attached
To curbs 'neath holes where babies wail
Though it shadows metal badge
All and all can only fall
(Bob Dylan: Gates Of Eden)

With machine-like military men who obey without questioning  their commanders as to what they are fighting for:

The savage soldier sticks his head in sand
And then complains
Unto the shoeless hunter
But still remains
Upon the beach where hounddogs bay
(Bod Dylan: Gates Of Eden)


The hope of a regained Eden lost to the false idols of the modern-day Babylon from out of the past:

With time-tested compass blade
Aladdin and his lamp
Sits with utopian hermit monks
Side saddle on the Golden Calf
And on their promises of paradise
(Bob Dylan: Gates Of Eden)

It looks like God has delt from the bottom of the deck so that it is only He who gets to eat from the Tree of Life now while the mortal humans get nothing but promises that they just might be able to escape from the dark experiences of Babylon up in a heavenly Eden after they die.

Indeed, according to the song lyrics below, some humans think it would be better to just die, and have done with it –  they have to first make it pass a trial outside Edenic Heaven, that’s overseen by the Supreme Judge, in order to enter the Gates of Heaven.

Else it’s eternal Hell for them:

As friends and other strangers
From their fates try to resign
Leaving men wholly, totally free
To do anything they wish to do but die
And there are no trials inside the Gates of Eden


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