Saturday, May 23, 2015

Gates of Eden

Nothing is good here.
The only hope lies beyond,
Where it's unlikely.

"Gates of Eden" is the second song on side two of the 1965 album "Bringing It All Back Home." It's one of a series of surreal Fleurs du Mal-style songs, describing inner landscapes wracked by fever and populated by obscene or absurd characters, and illuminated by Dylan's cantankerous misanthropy. See below:

Dramatis personae:
Curfew gull
Four-legged forest clouds
Cowboy angel
Lamppost
Wailing babies
Savage soldier
Shoeless deaf hunter
Hound dogs
Aladdin
Utopian hermit monks
Golden calf
Kings
Bob
Lonesome sparrow
Motorcycle Black Madonna
Two-Wheeled Gypsy Queen
Silver-studded phantom
Gray flannel dwarf
Birds of prey
Paupers
Princess 
Prince
Friends and other strangers
Free men
Bob's lover

Eden:
1. Truth twisting and the cowboy angel ride happen except when beneath the trees of...
2. No sound from the gates of...
3. Ships sail toward the...
4. Laughter from the gates of... (despite no sound coming from the...)
5. No kings inside the gates of...
6. No sins inside the gates of...
7. What's real doesn't matter inside the gates of...
8. There are no trials inside the gates of...
9. There are no truths outside the gates of... (implying that everything inside the gates is true)

As for the haiku:
There are many bad things happening outside the gates of Eden.
- Twisting truth, a candle waxed in black and lit into the sun, the wailing babies in holes, the crash of "all in all," the complaining soldier, the barking dogs, Aladdin and the monks on the golden calf (idolators), promises of paradise (which must be false), people condemned to suffer succeeding kings, the screaming dwarf, wicked birds of prey who snap up the dwarf's tiny sins, rotting kingdoms, jealous poor people, the royalty taken up with the discussion of what's real (they are wasting their time), Bob's inability to ever find a home (he's always in a hot foreign place in someone else's room), and finally Bob's lover, who doesn't bother to analyze her dreams. This is all what's outside the gates of Eden. Inside sounds like it should be a paradise, but if you check it out, it doesn't sound like Bob is giving you a very hard sell.









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