Bob Dylan And The Two Riders (Part VII and VIII)


Bob Dylan And The Two Riders (Part VII)

By Larry Fyffe

Poet TS Eliot depicts a fallen Babylon; much of the great art of yesteryear in fragmented ruins.

Says no Hamlet, nor Shakespeare he be, but determined the modernist poet is to scavenge the litter left over, and put fallen Humpty Dumpy back together again as best he can.

Eliot becomes the attendant and nurse to a sick, sexless society where over-production and inflation leads to too much education and useless knowledge:

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michaelangelo
(TS Eliot: The Love Song Of J Alfred Prufrock)

Renaissance man Michaelangelo creates a seventeen-foot marble statue of naked David, but the Hebrew hero-to-be has small, uncircumcised genitals.

The French Symbolist-influenced imagistic song below depicts today’s busy world as motionless as a black-bough.

It’s gnostic-like, a dark, walled-in place from which there is no escape; where everyone waits for tea and coffee:

All along the watchtower
Princes kept the view
While all the women came and went
Barefoot servants too
(Bob Dylan:  All Along The Watchtower)

While Friar Tuck, Robin Hood; Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein; Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud; Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung; TS Eliot, Ezra Pound, ride up to the castle walls  to fight over the captain’s tower.

It’s all mixed-up confusion:

Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood
With his memories in a trunk
Passed this way an hour ago
With his friend, a jealous monk
(Bob Dylan: Desolation Row)

Not one appreciates the gravity of the situation.

Bob Dylan And The Two Riders (Part VII)

Temptations not an easy thing; I tend to stay away from making declarative assessments, but it’s difficult to avoid the view that ‘All Along The Watchtower’ is a mere footnote to, a summary of, Isaiah ….albeit a diminutive and beautifully written one.

According to the Old Testament, the inhabitants of Northern Israel and Judah will come face to face with the wrath of their enemies; they’ll be the prey of roaring lions from Assyria and Babylon because they have forsaken the Almighty One for the worship of the idols of the Baalists; for sacrifices to Moloch, for example:

Their roaring shall be like a lion
They shall roar like young lions
Yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey
And carry it away safe
And none will deliver it
(Isaiah 5: 29)

For now anyway, delivered out of captivity by the Almighty, the Hebrews shall not be.

By means of analogy, supposedly enclosed securely in a Watchtower, the inhabitants of the today’s American Empire take the credit themselves for the production of goods in the Babylonia of New Rome – necessities that have been created not by them but by God for use in a wise, unselfish, and nonwasteful manner.

Regardless of their eagle banners a-flying, for their misuse of the Lord’s benevolence, God (or the Cosmos if you prefer) will make these modern Nero’s pay dearly.

A clear warning that’s transmitted in the following song lyrics:

In the distance, a wildcat did growl
(Bob Dylan: All Along The Watchtower)

And that ain’t no joke:

There must be some way out of here
Said the joker to the thief
There's too much confusion
I can't get no relief
(Bob Dylan:  All Along The Watchtower)

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