Bob Dylan And The Fighting Irish (Part V & VI)

Bob Dylan And The Fighting Irish (Part V)

By Larry Fyffe

Little is known about the imagined and constructed design of the micro- and macro-Universe envisioned by the pre-Christian oral-centric Druids of Ireland. That is, except that which is supposed by Roman traders and Christian priests, and filtered down through the ages in writing.

In his book “The White Goddess”, British poet Robert Graves, the son of a minor Irish poet, manufactures a history of ancient Ireland whereby the Celts balance off the Greek/Roman/Christian mythologies of an Almighty Father:

All saints reviled her, and all sober men
Ruled by the God Apollo's golden mean
In scorn of which we sailed to find her 
In distant regions likeliest to hold her
(Robert Graves: The White Goddess)

In the following verse, an American poet picks up on the motif of the watery female principle pervading the natural world – an imaginative and alliterative mental construction that is missing in the Christian religion:

She was the single artificer of the world
In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea
Whatever self it had, became the self
That was her song, for she was the maker. Then we
As we beheld her striding there alone
Knew that there never was a world for her
(Wallace Stevens: The Idea Of Order At Key West)

Graves pushes back the “I am” poem “The Song Of Amergin” into preChristian times though it has a rather postChristian outlook in its written form.

In another book by Graves, we learn that Jesus is the first-born of Roman-appointed ‘king’ Herod; he allows his son to be sacrificed for the sake of keeping order in the land promised to the Jews.

Apparently, there are no truths outside the Gates of Eden.

Irishman Samuel Beckett is influenced greatly by James Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake”, a book that seeks to demonstrate that all languages are foreign and absurd to isolated groups of humans; nothing but mumbo-jumbo.

In Beckett’s play “Waiting For Godot”, no wisdom is revealed in regards to the seeming meaninglessness of human existence in the grand scheme of things; there are no women therein; not a White Goddess of birth, love, and death anywhere.

The meaning of the play is masked and marked by language filled with irony.

It matters not how long the two main male characters wait for the arrival of the mysterious, and all-knowing “Godot”; the name a portmanteau, perhaps composed of ‘God’ and ‘eau’ (‘water’, feminine in French); fire, earth, wind, and water considered the four basic elements in ancient Alchemy.

Nothing is delivered; not even a rope for the two stationary, albeit ageing men, to finally take some action even if it’s to hang themselves from the tree under which they are standing:

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick
But when the desire cometh
It is a tree of life
(Proverbs 13:12)

Not unlike the dark Godot-like perspective expressed in the following song lyrics:

In creation where one's nature neither honours or forgives
I and I
One said to the other, "No one sees my face and lives"
(Bob Dylan: I and I)

Rich-Fried Nietzsche served up at the written tableau beneath:

Gonna get down low, gonna fly high
All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie
(Bob Dylan: Things Have Changed)

 

Bob Dylan And The Fighting Irish (Part VI)

From the point of view of many of the writers referred to as “Existentialists”, every person has the responsibility to come up with a satisfactory purpose for his/her own existence; then this plan must be put into action, for better or worse; there’s no assigned position in society awaiting him (especially)or her to give an individual authenticity.

Samuel Beckett’s absurdist play “Waiting For Godot” pulls the rug out from under the optimistic boots of these Existentialists  – any chance of an individual finding a satisfying life in modern society is no longer there; it’s gone.

In his day, Friedrich Nietzsche calls for individual action, but in Beckett’s Wonderland of capitalist economic over-production partnered with poverty, its two main male characters, except for the need of life-sustaining necessities like something to eat, and a place to sleep, cannot bring themselves to do anything.

On the stage, they both look like they’re moving, but basically they just walk around in circles within the perimeters of a spiritually barren landscape.

Eden's not in flames; it's in ashes.

The narrator in the following song lyrics could be from Beckett’s Post Existentialist world:

I know it looks like I'm moving, but I'm standing still
Every nerve in my body is naked and numb
I can't even remember what it was I came here to get away from
(Bob Dylan: Not Dark Yet)

In the song lyrics beneath, the Stoicism found within Thomas Hardy’s Romantic Realistic writings will have to do; there’s no use waiting around for Godot with some supernatural news; he’s not coming:

Relationships of ownership, they whisper in the wings
To those condemned to act accordingly, and wait for succeeding kings
And I try to harmonize with songs the lonesome sparrow sings
(Bob Dylan: Gates Of Eden)

In the following song lyrics, the light spread by the American Transcendentalist writers of the past faintly glows through the ŕain drops.

Everything is broken and fragmented; no transcendental spiritual source of èternal beauty, and everlasting unity appears:

I like your smile
And your fingertips
Like the way you move your hips
I like the cool way you look at me
Everything about you is bringing me misery
(Bob Dylan: Buckets Of Rain)

Akin to the tragic song based on the actual historical settlement in Canada (“Red River Valley”), love for a daughter of a native ‘Indian’ chief, in the song below, does not last.

Reality steps up:

Well, the white man loved an Indian maiden
Look away you rolling river ....
Across the wide Missouri
Shenandoah, I love your daughter
(Bob Dylan: Shenandoah ~ traditional, Dylan, et. al.)

And if there’s Realism, Satire can’t be far behind:

On the bank of the river stood Running Bear, young Indian brave
On the other side of the river stood his lovely Indian maid ....
As there hands touched, and their lips met
The raging river pulled them down
Now they'll always be together
In their happy hunting ground
(Johnny Preston: Running Bear ~ Richardson)

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