Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Life as Linus van Pelt
I dreamed I saw St. Augustine,
Alive as you or me,
Tearing through these quarters
In the utmost misery,
With a blanket underneath his arm
And a coat of solid gold,
Searching for the very souls
Whom already have been sold.
"Arise, arise," he cried so loud,
In a voice without restraint,
"Come out, ye gifted kings and queens
And hear my sad complaint.
No martyr is among ye now
Whom you can call your own,
So go on your way accordingly
But know you're not alone."
The romantic always hears more than the band is playing, and maybe it's just as well, since Dylan's lyrics are so close to the original melody line by Joan Baez's "Joe Hill" that it's almost the same song, though with an opposite meaning to that of Joe Hill the dead union organizer.
But Dylan's St. Augustine tells you something else, and when heard for the first time, knocks you right off your horse.
St. Augustine, the once- randy Bishop, trying to get it all together precisely at the time Rome fell once and for good. And to what avail now is your repentance, your newfound piety when the Huns have crossed the gates and the See of Rome is no more.
Another Dylan line:
All and all can only fall
With a crushing but meaningless blow...
Or more prosaically:
A Christiian without epistle or pistol
steamrolled by another more ancient code to life, the code of plants and animals, the code of men and women.
And with men and women it is more structured, borne out of, easily, 20,000 years of living.
So call out, call out for St. Augustine, Bob Dylan, John Updike, to all of us, our souls already sold, blanket on one arm, thumb in mouth,like Linus, and yet still somehow faithful..