Okay, who’s up for deciphering this poem? I have long been puzzled by it, but haven’t we all? Jim Morrison likens the poem to a fireside storytelling of different people describing where they are at. But I see it as Jim Morrison describing several of the facets of his complex personality. Using the “Lizard” as a metaphor for himself, he spins vivid imagery to describe where he was in early 1968.
This poem is going to be difficult to dissect because of its sheer epicness and vivid use of imagery. I will attempt to write my ideas in point for stanza by stanza. Hopefully it doesn't get too tedious to read.
-depiction of chaos and a loss of authority
-the body of the rotting mother could depict the actual death of a maternal figure but it could also suggest the depletion of nature and a perversion of the natural realm leading to a desire to be distanced from chaos
-This represents a physical departure from the chaotic in hopes of finding solace in tranquility.
-The end rhymes are interesting as they have long O sounds suggesting openness while suggesting a pleasing sense of "order"
-I feel like this is a type of metamorphosis, much like a snake or lizard sheds its skin perhaps signifying a rebirth
-The questioning and ceremonial assertions further this sense of rebirth as it seems to suggest an unconventional Baptism within the bounds of a new world
-The aggressive nature of “Wake up!” suggests an intrusion or interruption within the ceremony
-I feel that this might be a commentary on consumerism because it replaced the notion of the religious and individual experience (everything is mediated by external societal forces)
-Perhaps this is referring to a sexual innuendo (“Glazed and shrunken” being descriptors of the “snake” (a climax of rebirth and regeneration?)
-The bathroom is a place of privacy where the male character is attempting to see his new form (however he is interrupted by the intrusion of the female character)
-Perhaps the blood represents the tiles…maybe they are red and resemble the afterbirth of this transformation
Stanza Seven, Eight, Nine
-On the simplest level this addresses instability (mind games)
-There is an implication of creating a new pseudo-religion (“different steeple”)
-Drug use? (Release control, we’re breaking through)
Stanza Ten and Eleven
-This seems to suggest a desire for simplicity, a calling to go back to nature because it is the only thing that represents truth and beauty (but this untouched and serene land seems to only live in the mind)
-There is a certain violent sexuality pertaining to the notion of the manufactured safety of the home (there is a feeling of being trapped)
-The line “Wait/There’s been a slaughter here” furthers this domesticated violence (the conventional domestic realm perhaps suggesting the death of individuality and freedom)
-A vibe of being transient (the murder of the domestic creates urgency)
-Depicts a world without natural influences to be a life not worth living as there is nothing worthwhile to see or do (image of running suggests guilt)
Stanza Fourteen to Nineteen
-The house on the hill seems to represent a salvation as it is amerced within nature
-The house has a sense of warmth
-Attachment to the afterlife and worldly references suggest a world outside of a comfort zone
-Everything is surreal and seems like it could be some kind of dream or trip
-I think this stanza basically sums up a majority of the poem as it reveals a strange and untraditional love (between the minister’s daughter and the snake) (perhaps this suggests ambivalence felt towards Los Angeles)
I am the lizard king/ I can do anything: Definitely an assertion of confidence but could also illuminate the notion of rebirth and shedding (which is also highlighted with the lines “Tomorrow we enter the town of my birth/I want to be ready”)
In general I think the poem is about appearance and reality as well as birth and rebirth.