Being Essay, Research Paper
The Paradoxical Nature of Love and Higher Being
Over many centuries, the concepts of love and the discovery of ?a higher being? have been mysteries to man. Both ideas have been discussed, analyzed, and disputed by various authors and philosophers. In the ancient past, love and discovery of a higher being have been thought to be primarily positive concepts, experienced only by those who are truly comfortable with their lives and situations. However, beginning in the mid- twentieth century, various poets, and other artists began expressing their emotions from a more vivid, realistic point of view. Love and the search for a higher self were found painful, and strange at times. Both concepts were achieved as a result of searching the soul and finding some type of truth concerning the individual. Various artists realized that in order to achieve or even experience these concepts, one must first experience negativity to grasp the depth of either. Throughout the poem ?In a Dark Time? by Theodore Roethke and the song ?I Want You? by Bob Dylan, one can easily recognize the paradoxical nature of both love and discovery of a higher self.
Throughout Bob Dylan?s love song, ?I Want You?, there are two paralleled yet very different themes that reign. Dylan describes numerous sad and contemptible situations, which are also valid aspects of life. He writes, ?The guilty undertaker sighs,/ The lonesome organ grinder cries/?/The drunken politician leaps/ Upon the street where mothers weep/ I want you?. All of the situations described are the exact opposite of the love that he feels for this person. However, the two contrasting emotions go together very well when describing Bob Dylan?s deep love. They are each equally desperate and beseeching; one, from a lover to reciprocate his love, and the other to stress the urgency of the times. Bob Dylan continues to parallel these two opposite themes throughout the song, one complementing the importance of the other.
The significance of death, as a part of the scheme of the world, is intensely stressed throughout ?I Want You?. Bob Dylan sings, ?Well, I return to the Queen of Spades/ And talk with my chambermaid./ She knows I?m not afraid to look at her./ She is good to me/And there?s nothing she doesn?t see? . Here, Dylan brings up the subject of death by making a reference to the ?Queen of Spades?, a well-known symbol for the matter. Though this significance of death is present, Dylan seems to undermine its negative severity, while idolizing it to some extent. Perhaps by using the metaphor of the Queen of Spades, Dylan would also like to compare her to his object of affection. Dylan plays upon these double-meanings by stating that he is not afraid to look at her, and that she (meaning death and his love) is good to him. By relating his love to the personification of death, Dylan is able to stress the urgency of his love. He is ready to submit himself wholly to his object of affection, even if she was the personification of death. By comparing this coveted person with her antithesis (death), Dylan is able to demonstrate the complications and depth of true love.
Throughout the last stanza of ?I Want You?, the author comes face to face with an underlying issue concerning his object of affection. Dylan perhaps hints at the fact that death is coming face to face with his love. He sings, ?Now your dancing child with his Chinese suit,/ He spoke to me, I took his flute./ ?he lied/ Because he took you for a ride/ And because time was on his side? . Dylan leaves the key to his song at the end of the poem. The reason for the drastic comparison between that which is loved and that which is loathed is because the object of his affection has come face to face with death. The extreme differences between the two subjects fuse together at the end to form a full depiction of Bob Dylan?s heart-felt situation regarding his love coupled with his loss.
Theodore Roethke discusses a subject similar in theme, but covers a different subject. Instead of coupling death with love, in his poem, ?In a Dark Time?, Roethke discusses the ability to reach a higher understanding while existing in a world full of flaws. He states, ?In a dark time, the eye begins to see,/ I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;/ I hear my echo in the echoing wood-/ A lord of nature weeping to a tree? . For him, life seems to come together and make sense within all that is negative. He finds a part of himself (his shadow) within the natural darkness of shade. He is the ?lord of nature? who laments while at the same time becoming more connected with himself and life.
Throughout ?In a Dark Time?, Roethke constantly compares and parallels various subjects with their antitheses in order to reach a higher understanding of life and the world around him. He states, ?What?s madness but nobility of the soul/ At odds with circumstance??/I know the purity of pure despair?/ All natural shapes blazing unnatural light? . By positioning certain aspects of nature in a paradoxical light, Roethke tries to show the reader the drastic similar differences between good and evil in nature. One subject universally seen to be that of shame and confusion (madness) is compared with ?nobility of the soul? or a truer understanding of the surrounding world. Roethke comes to believe that there is good in evil by analyzing ?purity? in ?pure despair? and natural characteristics in all that is ?unnatural?. By comparing circumstances with their opposites, Roethke is trying to grasp the true meaning of life in an unconventional manner.
In the last stanza of his poem, Roethke comes to terms with the fact that life is paradoxical in nature, and is therefore transformed to a higher state of mind. The poet states, ?Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire./ A fallen man, I climb out of my fear./ The mind enters itself, and God the mind,/ And one is One, free in the tearing wind? . The author finds darkness in all that is natural (?my light?, ?my desire?) and though he is disturbed, he is still able to come to terms with his life and his situation. By realizing that life is paradoxical (good and bad at the same time), he has come to a higher understanding concerning the truth about life. Although One is free, Roethke is sure to add that it is in the ?tearing wind?. By paralleling the bad with the good, the poet is able to reach a higher understanding of a most confusing life.
Both Bob Dylan and Theodore Roethke show throughout their pieces the paradoxical nature of love and finding oneself. By comparing the two opposite natures of both love and death (unstable world), Dylan is able to express the true desperate feelings toward his object of affection. Roethke parallels the goodness of nature along with the bad, and in the process, comes to the realization that the world is good and bad at once. Though drastically different from previous authors? perceptions of love and higher being, both authors do an exceptional job in describing the paradoxical nature of their emotions and lives.