Bob Dylan: Cooking Up More Mythologies (Part VII)

by Larry Fyffe

As woman’s role in society changes, so changes the depiction of the Lilith archetype by writers and artists.

Christian and Jewish writers tend to hold on to the view that Lilith’s an evil ‘screech owl’ who seeks revenge on humankind by disrupting Adam’s rightful place as the boss in the relationship that he has with Eve – even before the submissive rib-created Eve upsets the apple cart herself in the paradise of Eden.

In a Gothic Romantic poem, the shape-shifting Lilith, under the guise of beautiful Geraldine, deceives, and then seduces Christabel who’s saving herself for her boyfriend.

In that poem quoted below, Lady Geraldine casts a witch’s  spell on the innocent girl so she’s unable to remember what happened:

And the lady's eyes, they shrunk in her head
Each shrunk up to serpent's eyes
And with somewhat malice, and more of dread
At Christabel she looked askance
(Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Christabel)

In the following song, the narrator sure ain’t a-looking for a screech-type of woman nor one with serpent’s eyes:

Covenant woman got a contract with the Lord
Way up yonder, great will be her reward
Covenant woman, shining like a morning star
I know I can trust you stay the way you are
(Bob Dylan: Covenant Woman)

In the song above, there’s a cynical caveat –  no sure promise is made to the woman that she’ll be delivered to a paradise on earth, but rather it will be one up yonder in the heavens above after she’s gone.

The narrator tells the female ‘stranger’, that he’s got a covenant of his own, and because of it, he’s still waiting to be delivered to the Promised Land:

I just got to thank you once again
For making your prayers
Unto heaven for me
And to you, always, grateful
I will forever be
(Bob Dylan: Covenant Woman)

And so it could be said in the song lyrics beneath – figuratively the Hebrew God be the groom:

West of the Jordan, east of the Rock of Gibraltar
I see the burning of the stage
Curtain rising on a new age
See the groom still waiting at the altar
(Bob Dylan: The Groom's Still Waiting At The Altar)

Could be this time the shape-shifting Lilith shows up in the figure of Claudette:

What can I say about Claudette
Ain't seen her since January
She could be respectively married
Or running a whorehouse in Buenos Aires
(Bob Dylan: The Groom's Still Waiting At The Altar)

Perhaps this Lilith’s run off with the man in the long black coat:

Tell me tall man
Where would you like to be overthrown
In Jerusalem or Argentina
(Bob Dylan: Angelina)

The singer/songwriter is difficult to nail down in one place.


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