Saturday, May 24, 2008


Today is Bob Dylan's 67th birthday. I believe that my mother's favorite Bob Dylan song was "Ring Them Bells."

Ring them bells, ye heathen
From the city that dreams,
Ring them bells from the sanctuaries
Cross the valleys and streams,
For they're deep and they're wide
And the world's on its side
And time is running backwards
And so is the bride.

Ring them bells St. Peter
Where the four winds blow,
Ring them bells with an iron hand
So the people will know.
Oh it's rush hour now
On the wheel and the plow
And the sun is going down
Upon the sacred cow.

Ring them bells Sweet Martha,
For the poor man's son,
Ring them bells so the world will know
That God is one.
Oh the shepherd is asleep
Where the willows weep
And the mountains are filled
With lost sheep.

Ring them bells for the blind and the deaf,
Ring them bells for all of us who are left,
Ring them bells for the chosen few
Who will judge the many when the game is through.
Ring them bells, for the time that flies,

Ring them bells St. Catherine
From the top of the room,
Ring them from the fortress
For the lilies that bloom.
Oh the lines are long
And the fighting is strong
And they're breaking down the distance
Between right and wrong.

Copyright © 1989 Special Rider Music

My old friend, RTN, who also listened to Bob Dylan from early on, was in many ways like my mother in that he struggled with anger through most of his adult life. He, like my mother, was a user of amphetamines and Oxycodone, although mostly illegally. He once told me that he was "a veteran of the anger wars." In the year before my mother died, she told me that she was tired of being angry. Until I was 45 years old, I didn't identify myself as an angry person, but I was frequently hungry. I used food to take the edge off any anger that surfaced. Right after RTN died on April 20, I felt numb. As the days go by, I am feeling the anger that is a part of grief. Bob Dylan spoke for many of us when he wrote about "tears of rage, tears of grief."

I don't miss their anger, but I do miss my mother and my old friend. That's my mother in 1920. Her father had returned from World War I in 1919, having served as a doctor.

They say prayer has the power to heal
So pray for me, mother
In the human heart an evil spirit can dwell
I am a-tryin' to love my neighbor and do good unto others
But oh, mother, things ain't going well
(from "Ain't Talkin'" -- Bob Dylan, 2006)


robin andrea said...

I read once that beneath sadness is anger, and beneath anger is sadness. We tend to emote what is easiest for us and suppress what is hardest. Perhaps your mother and RTN were very sad, but it was simply easier to express their anger than their grief.

A very Happy Birthday to Bob Dylan. Ring them bells.

am said...

robin andrea -- Thanks so much for your comments on sadness and anger. I believe that my mother and RTN were, indeed, very sad. At times, I saw fear as well as sadness beneath their anger.

Both of them had strong creative spirits despite anger, sadness and fear.

R.L. Bourges said...

the full circle for me then leads to fear of being hurt again. Hurt by what? By the loss of joy. I am joyful - because of love or simply because joy descends on me. Something happens that knocks the joy away from me. And the cycle begins - sadness, anger, searching for explanations, longing, anger, grief, denial, etc etc. Until, like the full cycle on the washing machine, I am wrung out. I then put myself out to dry - and the wind on my face or the clean, sharp smell of joy lands on my head again.

be well, am.

am said...

lee -- Thanks so much for your comment with the image of putting oneself out to dry. Saying yes to the wind and the smell of joy. It always does come round to that.