by Larry Fyffe
Taken as a whole, the metonymic motifs in the songs of Bob Dylan are not nearly as fragmented as they first appear.
Mythologists, poets, writers, and other artists, speak up for the languageless, for the ‘silent’, Cosmos – once thought made up of the basic elements of wind, water, fire and earth.
The Sun in ancient Greek/Roman mythology is personified as Apollo; he’s masculine, rational, fiery and prone to war.
Influenced by Emanuel Swedenborg, poet and engraver William Blake goes further; presents Apollo as Urizen; gnostic-like, he’s a sinful and bloodied Demiurge who overlooks dark Satanic Mills down on earth.
He’s grouped in with Deists, and with Satan of the Holy Bible:
Then the Divine Vision like a silent sun appeared above
Setting ... in clouds of blood (William Blake: Jerusalem)
Los (Sol spelled backwards) represents fallen man; he’s a blacksmith, an artist, who struggles in the prison of a dark world to spread some light:
The blow of his hammer is justice The swing of his hammer mercy (William Blake: Jerusalem)
Dominant-seeking Venus, from mythology, for Blake be disharmonious Eniharmon.
She has a motherly side that’s revealed in the song lyrics below:
My love she speaks like silence Without ideals or violence She doesn't have to say she's faithful Yet she's true, like ice, like fire (Bob Dylan: Love Minus Zero)
According to Blake, the modern world has been led astray by rationalists, corrupted – imagination lost.
There’s a dark earthy side to Enilhamon that fails to console under such circumstances:
Well, the road is rocky, and the hillside's mud Up over my head nothing but clouds of blood I found my own, I found my one in you But your love hasn't proved true (Bob Dylan: Cold Irons Bound)
Los is lost in Blake’s poetry, locked outside as he is with the once-perfect Eve who’s been seduced by Satan, both locked outside the Gates of Eden:
The silent sun He's got me on the run Burning a hole in my brain I'm dreaming of you That's all I do But it's driving me insane (Bob Dylan: Dreaming Of You)
Perhaps it’s just William Blake’s esoteric poetry that Los is dreaming about, and his trying to untangle what the preRomanic poet is getting at, that’s driving Bob Dylan insane.
Bob Dylan Is Los (Part II)
An American Neo-Transcendentist poet accepts noisy modern city life for the most part; it’s a sign of human progress.
But has fond memories of the presentation by forgoing Transcendentalist writers of a peaceful countryside where the beauty of Nature inspires them.
No way is there a reason to become a dark Existentialist:
Give me the splendid silent sun with his beams full-dazzling (Walt Whitman: Leaves Of Grass)
In the following song lyrics quoted, the narrator therein, Mani-like, casts a sceptical eye on an idealistic pastoral place of light wherein awaits a caring, loving woman, a Diana symbolized by the white moon.
Dylan takes an obverse view of such an Eden (preRomantic poet William Blake even dresses sun-god Apollo, Diana’s twin brother, in the cloak of Satan).
Below, for all intents and purposes, music-loving Apollo is missing; he neither sings nor plays his lyre, makes not a sound.
Trapped inside the gates of Paradise Lost is not a nice place to be:
The silent sun Has got me on the run (Bob Dylan: Dreaming Of You)
According to the Holy Bible, even when short, silence be a harbinger of worse things to come:
And when he opened the seventh seal There was a silence in heaven About the space of half an hour (Revelation 8:1)
Similarly in the following song lyrics – the narrator’s been stranded alone with Diana. Alas, she has a dark side as well as a light side.
No more an inspiring female muse, she’s gone missing too:
The light in this place Is really bad (Bob Dylan: Dreaming Of You)
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