Bob Dylan And Hart Crane (Part III)

By Larry Fyffe

Likely unknown to William Blake is the Colonial Baroque poetics of Edward Taylor, but Modernist poet Hart Crane, and singer/songwriter Bob Dylan are well aware of the earthy, watery, fiery, and airy images of the preRomantic Blake.

In the following  love poem (“Permit me voyage, love, into your hands”), Hart Crane tangles up a Romantic image of an everlasting river; an Alchemic image of the regenerative fire-bird; and a Baroque image of a man-made barque:

Nothing so flagless as this piracy ....
O river mingling toward the sky
And harbour of the phoenix' breast
My eyes are pressed black against the prow
The derelict and blinded guest
(Hart Crane: Voyages)

Ezra Pound promotes the use of concise imagery in poetry, and Hart Crane ploughs the literary technic into the ground. He tangles up a number of objective correlatives, and almost turns them completely meaninglessness.

Singer/songwriter Bob Dylan picks up on Crane’s poetics even as he pokes Freudian fun at it:

Well my ship is in the harbour
And the sails are spread
Listen to me, pretty baby
Lay your hand on my head
Beyond here lies nothin'
Nothin' done and nothin' said
(Bob Dylan: Beyond Here Lies Nothing)

The construction and structure of the Brooklyn Bridge serves Crane (who’s influenced by Emanuel Swedenborg) as a symbolic link between the physical and spiritual energies of mankind.

Poet William Blake (also influenced by Swedenborg) imagines the link to be a chariot of fire:

Bring me my Spear; O clouds unfold
Bring me my Chariot of Fire!
(William Blake: Jerusalem)

Hart Crane writes:

So to thine everpresence, beyond time
Like spears ensanguined of one tolling star
That bleeds infinity - the orphic strings
Sidereal phalanxes, leap and converge
One Song, one Bridge of Fire!
(Hart Crane: Atlantis)

Alchemic fires a-burning, Bob Dylan laments the death of singer/songwriter John Lennon:

Shine your light
Movin' on
You burned so bright
Roll on, John
I heard the news today, oh boy
They put a wreath upon your door
Now the city gone dark, there ain't no more joy
They hauled your ship up on the shore
(Bob Dylan: Roll On, John)

Hart Crane takes inspiration from the Gothic Romantic poet Keats:

The ancient names, return to home to our own
Hearths, there to eat an apple and recall
The songs that gypsies dealt us at Marseille
Or how the priests walked, slowly through Bombay
Or to read you, Walt, knowing us in thrall
To that deep wonderment, our native clay
(Hart Crane: Cape Hatteras)

As indicated by the  poem below:

I see a lily on thy brow
With anguish moist, and fever-dew ....
I saw pale kings and princess too
Pale warriors,  death-pale were they all
They cried, "La Belle Dame Sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall"
(John Keats: La Belle Dame Sans Merci)

Below, lyrics from Transcendentalist Romantic poet Wordsworth who influences Walt Whitman:

Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! And again I hear
These waters rolling from these mountain-streams
With a soft inland murmur
(William Wordsworth: Tintern Abbey)

Both Keats and Wordsworth are paid a tribute in the song below:

You trampled on me as you passed
You left the coldest kiss upon my brow 
All my doubts and fears have gone at last
I've nothin' more to tell you now
I walk by tranquil lakes and streams
As each new season's dawn awaits
(Bob Dylan: Tell Ol' Bill)

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