by Larry Fyffe
There’s a fatalistic motif in ancient Irish oral-based pagan narratives that imaginatively compares human life to plants, trees, hills, and the recurring change in the seasons.
A conflict arises with the written-down stories of the Christian religion when it arrives in Ireland; it’s a religion that foresees better times ahead in a spiritual After Life; the responsibility lies with the behaviour of earth-bound humans as to whether they get there or not.
Observed through the lens of Christian scribes, the pre-Christian Druid priests create, along with many subordinate gods and goddesses, a main female goddess who represents regenerative, cyclical nature, and a main male god who fools around with a river goddess; his illicit son Aengus dreams of a beautiful partner whom he recognizes when she for a time turns into a swan; he transforms himself into a swan, and they fly off together.
Could be that Christian authorities ‘discover’ Druid writings and rework them into poems that fit the dogma of the One God (of a Trinity).
Much later the “Druid poem” is translated into modern English:
I am the salmon in the water I am the lake in the plain I am the word of wisdom I am the head of the spear in battle I am the God that puts fire in the head And spreads light in the mounds of the hills
Below, a modern Irish poet bent on sourcing out actual Druid thought takes the above poem as authentic; ancient Ireland for him takes off her cloak to reveal an other-worldly land filled with magicians, fairies, fortune-tellers; and a pot of gold at the end of every endless rainbow.
The narrator in the poem catches a trout that turns into a beautiful girl who then vanishes:
I went out the the hazel wood Because a fire was in my head .... I will find out where she has gone And kiss her lips and take her hands And walk among long dappled grass (WB Yeats: Song Of The Wandering Aengus)
In any event, the following song lyrics are drawn, to one degree or another, from the deep and ancient well of the Irish imagination:
You're gonna have to leave me now, I know But I'll see you in the sky above In the tall grass, in the ones I love (Bob Dylan: You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go)
That is to say – If human history, in both the macro- or minor-realms, does not repeat itself in fact, it does in the filtered-out, pattern-seeking memory of the human mind.
It could be said in the song lyrics beneath that the material-oriented Druids of yore are resurrected back to life as spiritualistic neo romantic (the Jungian collective unconscious, if you like):
Well, I'm a stranger in a strange land But I know this is where I belong l'll ramble and gamble for the one I love And the hills will give me a song (Bob Dylan: Red River Shore)
Bob Dylan And The Fighting Irish (Part IV)
And I'm reading James Joyce Some people they tell me I got the blood of the land in my voice (I Feel A Change Coming On ~ Dylan/Hunter)
Good chance that Joyce himself would have written:
“I got the blood of Ireland in my Vico”
Vico, an Italian writer, deposited that history follows recurring cycles with transitional periods – divine/theocratic with its language marked by metaphor – heroic/aristocratic marked by metonymy – human/democratic marked by irony.
Said it could that the members of the Sound School of Dylanology find a mean-tour
in Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake” where English words are so jungled up that their sound-dew over-elm any cents; the reader is pun-ished by puns, and joyous portmanteaux.
Its title can be taken as metonymy to mean “Irishmen Wake Up” or a sound-pun on “end (fin) again”.
Accordion-ly, it seems best to forget a-tempting any meaning therein, and instead con-cent-rate on the sound of words as if they were no more than emotion-evoking musical notes.
Rob Dylan, the little welsh, is the order of the day in the song lyrics below ~ his poe-ticks are picked:
The goat-and-daisy dingles (Dylan Thomas: Under Milk Wood)
Bequeathed in the line of the song beneath:
The cloak and dagger dangles (Bob Dylan: Love Minus Zero)
Singer/songwriter/muician Bob Dylan sometimes walks quite quietly down the James tract, carrying a big sack in witch the listeners’ Ear-train gets lost.
Innuedo, “fuck” is not in the double-edged song lyrics below:
And she's all the time in my neighbourhood She cries both day and night I know it because it was there It's a mile stone, but she's down on her luck She's daily salooning about to make it hard to buck (Bob Dylan: I'm Not There)
In the end though, Irishman James Joyce might have penned:
Let's go for a walk in the garden So far and so wide We can shite in the shade by the mountain-side
Rather than the puritanical:
We can sit in the shade by the fountain-side (Bob Dylan: False Prophet)
Joyce does like to play around with word sounds:
My sweet little whorish Nora – you had an arse full of farts that night, darling ….
Goodnight, my little farting Nora, my dirty little fuckbird
(James Joyce: Letter To Nora)
Turned-down lots in the following song lyrics:
You are as whorish as ever Baby you could start a fire I must be losing my mind You're the object of my desire (Bob Dylan: I Feel A Change Coming On ~ Dylan/Hunter)
Nevertheless, bobbing Dylan seldom meets a penish pun that he doesn’t like –
like ‘male’/’mail’ … if he can get it up:
Well, I ride on a mail train, babe Can't buy a thrill Well, I've been up all night Leaning on my window sill (Bob Dylan: It's Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry)