The Crimson King And Serpent Lilith (Part VI)

by Larry Fyffe

The snake-like Lamia of ancient mythology, bewitched by the wife of Zeus, resurfaces as Lilith of biblical lore.

In the poem below, the alluring, but treacherous, shape-shifting night spirit is involved in a human relationship rather than with the crimson Beelzebub:

Her stately neck, and arms were bare
Her blue-veined feet unsandaled were
And wildly glittered here and there
The gems entangled in her hair
(Christabel: Samuel Coleridge)

In the following poem, sympathy is shown toward the beautified demon because of her desire to please the one she loves

She was a gordian shape of dazzling hue
Vermilion-spotted, golden, green, and blue
Striped like a zebra, freakled like a pard
Eyed like a peacock, and all crimson barred
(Lamia, part I: John Keats)

The Gothic Romantic bent of the poems above influences the  rhythmic ballad song beneath that’s from more recent times:

I'll twine 'mid the ringlets of my raven black hair
The lilies so pale, and the roses so fair
The myrtles so bright with an emerald hue
And the pale aronatus with eyes of bright blue
(I'll Twine 'Mid The Ringlets: J.P. Webster et al)

In the next song appears the Lilith/Lamia figure again; she’s  depicted as flawed – separated and alienated from the unitary gnostic Monad out there beyond the stars:

Your breath is sweet
Your eyes are like two jewels in the sky
Your back is straight, your hair is smooth
On the pillow where you lie
But I don't sense affection, no gratitude or love
Your loyalty is not to me, but to the stars above
(Bob Dylan: One More Cup Of Coffee)

Reversing the polarity of the optimistic sentiment expressed in the overwrought Romantic Transcendentalist poem quoted below:

Down by the merry brook
That runs through the vale
Where blossoms the roses
And the lilies so pale 
Where the clover sweet-scented
Perfumes all the air
(I'm Waiting For Thee: 'Maud Irving')

The following bluegrass song might even be construed as a murder ballad; the Lilith/Lamia narrator therein looks forward to reaping her vengeance after her lover rejects her:

Oh, he taught me to love him, and call me his flower
That was blooming to cheer him through life's dreary hour
Oh, I long to see him, and regret the dark hour
He's gone, and neglected his pale wildwood flower
(Wildwood Flower: Carter Family)

Bob Dylan, with the Band, performs a short rendition of “Wildwood Flower”.


  1. Gothic author Edgar Allan Poe recommends keeping one’s room in noble shape using crimson colours to indicate therin possession of high ideals lest one suffers the same fate as the Ushers; or else a dire visit from a raven.

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