By Larry Fyffe
Dante Alighieri pops up here and there in songs written or co-written by Bob Dylan.; there be a world of light, a world of darkness, and a world betwixt the two.
Often humorously, but not always, real places get substituted for other-worldly sites like Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory.
Heaven according to the song lyrics below:
I say Champaign, Champaign, Illinois I certainly do enjoy Champaign, Illinois (Carl Perkins: Champaign Illinois ~ Perkins/Dylan)
Purgatory, akin to Desolation Row, in the lyrics beneath:
Oh, if you die fearing God Painfully employed No, you will not go to heaven You'll go to Champaign, Illinois (Old Ninety-Sevens: Champaign Illinois ~ Miller/Dylan)
The following gnostic-like lyrics present the material world as one of darkness, either it’s full of ignorance, or full of sin, or both, from which only a few wise or lucky individuals escape:
Just then a bolt of lightning Struck the courthouse out of shape And while everybody knelt to pray The drifter did escape (Bob Dylan: Drifter's Escape)
Blaming the darkness on someone or something else be a flawed means of escape:
I used to sit by my fire place And dream about you But now that won't do There's a flaw in my flue (Bob Dylan: There's A Flaw In My Flue ~ Van Heusen/Burke)
False conclusions wrought by religious prejudice:
Nobody spoke so they shouted all the louder It's an Irish trick that's true I can lick the Mick that threw The overalls in Mrs. Murphy's chowder (Bing Crosby: Who Threw The Overalls In Mrs Murphy's Chowder; Geifen)
Yes, indeed, give me that old time religion; that’s what we need:
Where the Jews, and Catholics, and Muslims all pray I can tell they're Proddie from a mile away (Bob Dylan: Goodbye Jimmy Reed)