Bob Dylan And Edward Cummings: The Romantic Revival
by Larry Fyffe
The poet Edward Cummings, inspired by the preRomantic poetry of William Blake and the subsequent Romantic Transcendental Movement, looks back to the innocence of childhood in search of natural love, a journey that takes the poet away from the structured world of mass conformity that’s been shattered in the wake of the madness of war.
With poetry Postmodernist-in-form, EE Cummings reacts by shattering the rules of conventional language in an effort to uncover and rediscover beneath its structure the essence of the mysterious force -natural love – symbolized by the word ‘God’. The poet removes the institutionalized dogmatic trappings of religion in his quest for the ultimate spirit that infuses material reality.
Singer/songwriter Bob Dylan, like Edward Cummings, presents a world to his listeners and readers in shattered, fragmented, and broken images:
(Bob Dylan: Everything Is Broken)
Unbound by time, the inherent drive of the individual artist compels him/her to use all creative energy to demonstrate that Ol’ Humpty Dumpy – i.e., a loving society – can indeed, at least in the artistic imagination, be put back together again:
Below, again in tangled syntax, a similar message delivered by the aforementioned Romantic poet, EE Cummings:
Both writers oxymoronically express that time and existence be an unfathomable mystery, tempered by regeneration and love:
(EE Cummings: All Nearness Pauses)
In particular, there is a central anthem associated with running the flag up the pole of the Romantic spiritual reawakening. To wit, the transcendental unification of the One with the Other, is transmitted by God through the playful experiencing of physical sex. As depicted in the following poem:
(EE Cummings: May I Feel Said He)
So it is Cummingsly expressed in the song below:
(Bob Dylan: Dress It Up)
Rap-like poetry, Cummings’ be:
(Childish Gambino: Freaks And Geeks)
Albeit seemingly fragmented, the Absolute Oneness of the Blakean Universe, alliterative Edward Cummings presents in poems suitable for children:
(EE Cummings: Maggie And Milly And Molly And May)
Likewise so expresses the Nobel-winning songwriter:
In the face of the all the broken conventional values of contemporary society, the singer/songwriter invokes the broken syntax of Edward Cummings poetry to convey the impression of an alien and fragmented world:
(Bob Dylan: I’m Not There)
Nevertheless, all is reconciled, according to the hyperbolic poet EE Cummings (and seemingly Bob Dylan too) – the deepest secret of the Universe is that it be the enigma of Love that’ll prevent the Apocalypse by its keeping the stars apart:
(EE Cummings: Anyone Lived In A Pretty How Town)
What else is on the site
1: Over 400 reviews of Dylan songs. There is an index to these in alphabetical order on the home 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.
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