Dylan On Dylan: The Songs Of Bob Dylan And The Poems Of Dylan Thomas

Dylan On Dylan:
The Songs Of Bob Dylan And The Poems Of Dylan Thomas

By Larry Fyffe

Bob Dylan works Christian teachings into his artistic endeavours as does William Blake: that is, its teachings before they are corrupted by social and political authorities.

Dylan’s adventures with a Christian fundamentalist organization does not dissuade him from doing so, though the hypocrisy of its adherents leads him to hammer nails of protestations into his song lyrics.

Dylan is not confused; it be they. Throughout his works, even in his children-oriented ones, the songwriter is very consistent in philosophical outlook. He criticizes not only others, but himself: one should not stay where one does not belong, when your journey down the road of life enables you to see that one shouldn’t do to others what you wouldn’t want them to do to you. But this road from innocence to experience is a bumpy one. The sign blinks: “Fasten your seat belt”.

“I touched the garment, but the hem was torn
In Scarlet Town where I was born”.
(Bob Dylan: Scarlet Town)

With a metaphoric catechism that he carries on his shoulder, Bob Dylan chases away the literalistic dogma that’s nipping at his bootheels:

“One by one, they followed the sun
One by one, until there were none
Two by two, to their lovers they flew
Two by two, into the foggy dew
Three by three, they danced on the sea
Three by three, they danced on the shore”
(Bob Dylan: Two By Two)

The hem, torn or not, of Neo-Romantic poetry, the songwriter and singer finds more appealing than the religious garment that’s been ripped to pieces by the dogma of church leaders.

“Rage, rage against the dying of the light
Wild men who caught the sun in flight”
(Dylan Thomas: Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night)

And similar NeoRomantic singer/songwriters:

“If you dance with me tonight
We’ll catch the dying of the light and we’ll catch the sun”
(High Flying Birds: The Dying Of The Light)

Led by the high-flying poetic birds – William Blake and Walt Whitman , Dylan Thomas is a bird that needs to spread its poetic wings:

“Let me escape
Be free, (wind for my tree and water for my flower)
Live self for self
And drown the gods in me
Or crush their viper heads beneath my foot
No space, no space, you say
But you’ll not keep me in
Although your cage is strong”
(Dylan Thomas: Let Me Escape)

So sings Bob Dylan from his bower of beechen green and shadows numberless:

“Let the wind blow high, let the wind blow low…….
Let the bird sing, let the bird fly”
(Bob Dylan: Under The Red Sky)

Said it has been that from the Welsh poet, Dylan takes his name.

Who are those among you that doubt  that this is true?

“Children of darkness got no wings
This we know, we got no wings
Stay in a circle chalked upon the floor
Waiting all vainly this we know”
(Dylan Thomas: Children Of Darkness  Got No Wings)

What is on the site

1: Over 360 reviews of Dylan songs.  There is an index to these in alphabetical order below on this page, and an index to the songs in the order they were written in the Chronology Pages.

2: The Chronology.  We’ve taken all the songs we can find recordings of and put them in the order they were written (as far as possible) not in the order they appeared on albums.  The chronology is more or less complete and is now linked to all the reviews on the site.  We have also recently started to produce overviews of Dylan’s work year by year.     The index to the chronologies is here.

3: Bob Dylan’s themes.  We publish a wide range of articles about Bob Dylan and his compositions.  There is an index here.

4:   The Discussion Group    We now have a discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook.  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

5:  Bob Dylan’s creativity.   We’re fascinated in taking the study of Dylan’s creative approach further.  The index is in Dylan’s Creativity.

6: You might also like: A classification of Bob Dylan’s songs and partial Index to Dylan’s Best Opening Lines

And please do note   The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, is starting to link back to our reviews.


  1. Hi there Mr. Attwood,

    Thanks for putting a spotlight on the Dylan / Dylan connection. And I love that you have used examples from Bob Dylan’s more recent work. Although Bob won’t acknowledge the name attribution, having said so in Chronicles and in various interviews, Bob cannot have been unaware that a heavy connection would be implied in choosing the spelling Dylan instead of Dillon. Dylan Thomas made a huge impact on the poetry scene in New York in the early 1950’s, becoming a cult figure, the first, as if, rock star poet to hit the scene. Bob Dylan is what turned my attention to Dylan Thomas in the 1960’s and I fell as much in love with the works of D.T. as I already was with the fabulous wordsmithing of B.D. They both write wonderful poetry/lyrics. Now, Bob Dylan’s main work is set to music, and of course there’s the sense of music in the poetry of Dylan Thomas … but what would it sound like? Can it be set to music? To find out if it’d be possible I one day long ago grabbed me guitar, feeling I needed to play something other than the Bob covers I’d incessantly been doing, and lo an’ behold it is possible.

    Me I’m but an amateur musician but for anyone interested I’ve uploaded a few hours worth (practice sessions) of Dylan Thomas pieces I’ve set to music to SoundCloud if but for to prove that the music in D.T’s. poetry lies readily accessible, blowin’ in the wind of the same force that through the green fuse drives the flower. (… The hand that whirls the water in the pool / Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind / Hauls my shroud sail.) 🙂


    Juri Aidas (aka. ‘Albatross’ of the Cyber, Long Distance Navigator)

  2. Um? Thanks Tony for posting Mr. Larry Fyffe’s text. (Somehow I seemingly missed the correct attribution! Darn!) Great musings Mr. Fyffe. 🙂 / Juri

  3. Aidas…indeed, ‘And the daughters of darkness flame like Fawkes fires still”, do they not? Your music, “its curfew gull just glides/upon four- legged forest clouds/ The cowboy angel rides.”

  4. Hey Larry you suggest we should without much proof accept your statement:
    that “Bob Dylan works Christian teachings into his artistic endeavours” so true indeed… a bit much for me, but that’s a different story altogether, you then continue emphasizing “its teachings before they are corrupted by social and political authorities”.
    That is not convincing… the church, even the the construction of the bible was apolitical and theological one… religion and the texts religious folks use, are shaped and contextualised and then re-shaped and re-contextualized time and again by political powers. The ‘social authorities’ is however a different thing, nobody would use that a few decades ago… any special meaning intended?

  5. Geurtsen – as used here by me, ‘social autority’ is based on a general social acceptance thereof as distinguished from ‘political authority’ which has the legitimate use of violence behind if need be.

  6. As his poetry indicates, Dylan Thomas is aware of Gnostic writings, much of which is left out of the Bible by its canonizers …a number of my articles refer to Bob Dylan and Gnosticism.

  7. You know the streets are filled with vipers
    Who’ve lost all ray of hope
    (Bob Dylan: Don’t Fall Apart On Me Tonight)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *