Bob Dylan: The Crimson And Yellow Jester (Part IV)

Previously in this series

By Larry Fyffe

Christian theologians and artists tend to simplify the rather complicated ancient depiction of the cosomological order – Beelzebub, for instance, becomes equated with Satan, who rebels against the Almighty; or, at least, he’s Satan’s spokesman or ‘captain’. Either way, Beelzebub is implicated in causing humans to become mortal.

Nonetheless, the mixed-up confusion does not end. According to some latter-day Gnostics, Beelzebub hooks up with Lilith after she flees from Adam because of his domination over her when she’s his first mate; Lilith is therefore exiled as a ‘screech owl” to some God-forsaken place.

A burlesque perhaps, but with reference to:

There shall the great owl make her nest
And lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow
There shall the vultures also be gathered 
Everyone with his mate
(Isaiah 34: 15)

Beelzebub and Lilith are crowned the King and Queen of  Hell-on-Earth.

In the song lyrics below, rather Baroque in tone, their disorderly conduct is countered by the King and Queen of Swords, depicted on Tarot cards, who strive to restore some semblance of an Edenic order where the coming on of death is made a bit more peaceful; yet death still triumphs:

Peace will come
With tranquility and splendour on the wheels of fire
But will bring us no reward when the false idols fall
And cruel death surrenders with its pale ghost retreating
Between the King and Queen of Swords
(Bob Dylan: Changing Of The Guards)

Jochen Markhorst, analyzing the song lyrics above, dismisses any attempt to find coherent meaning therein; the words are just there for the way they sound; they’re empty vessels that have no meaning – they have no life of their own.

Beelzebub will surely see to it that such Dylanologists are not cremated “on wheels of fire”, but buried alive – as occurs in a number of stories by Edgar Allan Poe…. Well, maybe not.

In any event, the singer/songwriter/musician below can’ t help

mixing-up the message – you’re going to have to serve somebody; it may be beastly Beelzebub who supposedly has a big one; it may be the Lord, or it may be Jesus.

You’re really never sure which one. After all, it had to be the Almighty One who creates Satan, the Great Deceiver:

He’s a great humanitarian, he’s a great philanthropist

He knows how to touch you, honey, and how you like 
to be kissed
He'll put both his arms around you
You can feel the tender touch of the beast
You know sometimes Satan will come as a man of peace

(Bob Dylan: Man Of Peace)

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