Tuesday, November 4, 2008

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,
For the child that cries
When innocence dies.

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.

-Bob Dylan, "Ring Them Bells"

Here's a link to a slightly embarrassing version of this song, performed live in 1994 at something called the Great Music Experience. Don't click if grand orchestrations make you cringe. In that case, just look at those last two lines. It was hard to find something that matched this mood of happiness toward the world, but that last couplet comes close to expressing it. Not there yet. Hardly. But some kind of process of shrinking that distance, however temporary and fragile, and perhaps ultimately futile, has begun. For the moment, though, that even a gesture toward this reconciliation has occurred is somewhat hard to believe. It's enough to just express it right now.

1 comment:

The General Secretary said...

Hey bud, good post. I've been emabrassingly gushy since the election, all cynicism swept and snark swept away! Glad to see I'm not the only one.