Paramaecium’s “Within the Ancient Forest” Lyrics – Outlined, Explained, Analyzed – Part 5: Into the Soil

“They who deny cannot, in the nature of things, know what they deny.”

– George MacDonald, “A Sketch of Individual Development”

“We have an incapacity for proving anything which no amount of dogmatism can overcome.”

– Blaise Pascal, Pensées


Image: “Cave” by *TitusLunter []

The next song, “Gone Is My Former Resolve” treats of two different elements of the story – Dé-nyl’s vain attempts to resurrect the living dead, and the first part of his underground adventure.

Dé-nyl has excavated the Garensword from a fossilized tree and has successfully brought his falcon back to life with the tip of the blade. Overcome with compassion for the living dead that lie in their graves “devoid of thought, bereft of life” like the humans kept as batteries in The Matrix, despite Destiny’s protests he at once begins frantically digging them up and trying to resurrect them, but they do not respond. “Even by touch of the sword they refuse to awaken,” as Dé-nyl sadly realizes. In this scene Dé-nyl signifies a young believer energetically trying to enlighten the world around him with his new worldview. This is a situation well-known to probably every believer I have ever known. It is the frustrating situation of having a Gospel to preach and no one responding to it. It is the realization that you cannot produce new converts just because you are one yourself. It is the sobering truth that no matter how many books are written about “soul winning” techniques, Christians cannot simply multiply like a biological species, or “assimilate” like the Borg from Star Trek, period. This frustration is, from the point of view of the fresh believer, a very understandable emotion. If someone told you what could be the best and most important news in the world, would you not want to share it? And how would you feel if all you got for a response were shrugs and headshakes, or worse?

So if the sword has revived Freawil, why does it bear no effect on the corpses? – I believe the answer has to do with the fact that, while Garen’s tale, i.e. the Gospel, is the best news ever (assuming that it’s true), it is not an objectively evident and easy-to-prove bit of good news like “I’ve won the lottery,” or “I’ve passed the test.” It is something that cannot be proven, but demands a leap of faith. And even if it were somehow to be proven, the message that God is good and does everything to save mankind would demand a reaction on more than merely intellectual grounds anyway. By its very nature, the Gospel is an invitation to participate and not something that asks for mere intellectual assent, or a series of facts that people can be compelled to believe through external evidence. This is a lesson that Dé-nyl has yet to learn. On this matter, I heartily recommend the Pensées by Pascal subsumed under the heading “Why God Hides” in Peter Kreeft’s book Christianity for Modern Pagans, already mentioned in the introduction. Dé-nyl has not yet learned to “mature in service”, as Alexander Shaia puts it in his chapter on the Gospel of Luke in his brilliant book Heart and Mind.

However, for now Dé-nyl is so very frustrated with the situation that results from his own immaturity that he gives up and runs away. This leads to his departure from Destiny and his journey into the underworld. In the book, the journey through the dark entrails of the earth with its many stony caverns makes for a very memorable episode that is only mentioned in fragments in the album lyrics. Here are the rough details: In his head-over-heels flight from Destiny (who is starting to get on his nerves by always knowing better), Dé-nyl is stopped short by a river, beside the banks of which he finds a rocky cavern in which Freawil is waiting for him. Within he also finds Dé-syr, another beautiful woman, who is something like Destiny’s dubious Doppelgänger, and whose careless laughter provides a welcome contrast to Destiny’s stern warnings. Almost needless to say, Dé-syr, who is very vocal about her “telling” name, entices him across the “bridge of grace” and further into the caverns along the broad way that leadeth to destruction. Knowing that he is where he shouldn’t be, Dé-nyl plays out the part of the “old man” of the song who listened to the evil desires of his own heart rather than to wisdom, and gone is his former resolve.

It seems that Dé-nyl’s frustration with trying in vain to pull people who “crave not life” from the ground, has turned upon itself. He runs to the siren’s call, and eventually becomes like them that made him run. In Jungian terms, his shadow self has caught up with him. He enters the ground, longing to drown within his own desires, devoid of thought, bereft of life, and drowning in sorrow. The word “sorrow” is indeed picked up from the beginning of the song and built up into a clean-vocal chorus, which is a reflection on the whole Dé-syr episode, and focuses on the regret associated with sin. The lust that Dé-nyl experiences with Dé-syr, and that “felt like love back then,” is a part of the story behind the next track.

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