This article continues from
- Bob Dylan And The Synesthesia Of Nettie Moore
- Netting More Synesthesia In Dylan’s Song Lyrics (Part II)
By Larry Fyffe
The Romantic poets turn to mental perceptions in their examination of the human condition because the senses directly link the environment outside to the brain inside. Those writers who focus on the intellect and reason, rather than on the artistic imagination, tend to distance their feelings from the world in which they exist.
The Romantic poets employ synesthetic images that refer to sensations like movement, touch, taste, smell, sound, sight; and to the way they intermingle within the human mind, and how they can be recalled therefrom.
Poet John Keats be the master of the technique of employing figurative language to create a sensual world, a place that is both beautiful and frightful:
O for a drop of vintage! that hath been Cooled a long age in deep-delved earth Tasting of Flora and the country green Dance, Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth! O for a beaker of the warm South Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene With beaded bubbles winking at the brime And purple-stained mouth That I might drink, and leave the world unseen And with thee fly away into the forest dim
(John Keats: Ode To A Nightingale)
Many of the poems of John Keats, and a number of song lyrics by Bob Dylan, both figuratively alliterative, feature a cauldron of mixed-up senses, i.e., of purple and mercury mouths:
With your mercury mouth in the missionary times And your eyes like smoke, and your prayers like rhymes And your silver cross, and your voice like chimes Oh who do they think could bury you? With your pockets well protected at last And your streetcar visions which you place on the grass And your flesh like silk, and your face like glass Who could they get to carry you?
(Bob Dylan: Sad-Eyed Lady Of Lowlands)
Keats mourns the loss of the joyful taste of flowers, of a song bird’s music now ‘buried deep’ in the forest, while Dylan finds the loss of a girl that he loves leaves a sad taste in his mouth:
Now I'm wearing the cloak of misery And I've tasted jilted love And the frozen smile upon my face Fits me like a glove But I can't escape from the memory Of the one that I'll always adore All those nights when I lay in the arms Of the girl from the Red River Shore
(Bob Dylan: Red River Shore)
In the song lyric below, the imagery serves as a correlative to objectify the sensation of sorrowful emotion:
The sun is sinking low I guess it's time to go I feel a chilly breeze In place of memories My dreams are locked and barred Admitting life is hard Without you
(Bob Dylan: Life Is Hard)
Edgar Allen Poe’s writing style is influenced by the synesthetic imagery of John Keats:
The mystery which binds me still From the torrent, or the fountain From the red cliff of the mountain From the sun that 'round me rolled In the autumn tint of gold From the lightning in the sky As it passed me flying by From the thunder, and the storm
(Edgar Allen Poe: Alone)
Passed from Keats to Poe; from Poe to Dylan – note the Dylanesque ‘rhyme twist’ from the poem above in the song lyrics below:
~ ‘sky’/’by’; ‘by’/’fly’:
Some of us turn off the lights, and we live In the moonlight shooting by Some of us scare ourselves in the dark To be where the angels fly
(Bob Dylan: Red River Shore)
The fear of losing the spirit of the imagination required to create worthy works of art haunts many of the lyrics of John Keats, Edgar Allen Poe, and Bob Dylan.
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