Symbolism Of The Cypress Tree Part II

Symbolism Of The Cypress Tree Part I

By Larry Fyffe

In the song lyrics below,  the narrator thereof depicts himself as Paris, a Trojan of Troy, who’s under attack by Achilles (and other Greeks) – sourced from ancient Greek/Roman mythology:

Achilles is in your alleyway
He don't want me here
(Bob Dylan: Temporarily Like Achilles)

Old Crowe Medicine Show, Temporary Like Achilles

In the mythology, the cypress tree is a symbol of sadness. The tree is sacred to Diana, the Goddess of the Moon, sister of Apollo, the Sun God.

The Trojans fleeing the Greeks are told to meet under a cypress tree dedicated to Ceres, the Goddess of Corn, her daughter Proserpine kidnapped by the God of the Underworld:

Without the walls a ruined temple stands
To Ceres hallowed once; a cypress nigh
Shoots up her venerable head on high
By long religion kept: there bend your feet
And in divided parties let us meet
(Virgil: Aeneid, Part II ~ translated)

Noted before, singer/songwriter/musician Bob Dylan models his song “Key West” after the mythological Underworld, and in the lines below, he refers to Virgil’s “Aeneid”, casting America  as the modern Babylon from the Holy Bible:

Stand over there by the cypress tree
Where the Trojan women and children  were sold into slavery
Long before the first Crusade
Way back before England and America were made
(Bob Dylan: My Own Version Of You)

In the lyrics beneath, the songster takes on the persona of  Aeneas fleeing Troy, and waiting for his lost wife:

The boulevards of cypress trees
The masquerades of birds and bees
The petals, pink and white, the wind has blown
Won't you meet me in the moonlight all alone
(Bob Dylan: Moonlight)
The waiting all in vain, and very sad:
I waited for you on the running boards
Near the cypress trees, while the springtime
Turned slowly into autumn
(Bob Dylan: Idiot Wind)

Rather ambiguous are the following lyrics that might be construed as an attempt to transform the Confederate States into the Troy of old (but note – Virgil, the Roman poet’s name, is combined with Cain(e), a farmer of biblical infamy, who kills his brother):

Back with my wife in Tennesee
When one day she said to me
Virgil, quick come see
There's goes the Robert E. Lee
(The Band: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

~ Robbie Robertson)

In Virgil’s version of the ancient legend, Aeneas, defeated in Troy, escapes and founds Rome, helped along by Venus, his mother – her birth depicted in a famous painting by Italian artist Sandro Botticelli.

As apparently rehashed by a much older, a very much older, and now happier, Aeneas – in the following song lyrics:

Got to hurry on back to my hotel room
Where I've got me a date with Botticelli's niece
She promised that she'd be right there with me
When I paint my master piece
(Bob Dylan: When I Paint My Master Piece)

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