Bob Dylan And Thomas Hardy (Part II)

By Larry Fyffe

Gather what you can from co-incidence.

Poet Thomas Hardy pities himself, or at least his persona, for losing some gal that he loves:

And when my love' s heart kindled
In hate of me
Wherefore I knew not, died I
One more degree ....
Yet is it that, though whiling
The time somehow
In walking, talking, smiling
I live not now

(Thomas Hardy: Dead Man Walking)

The theme’s carried on in a bluegrass song:

Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Down this highway of regret
Heart's burnin', still yearnin'
For the best girl this poor boy's ever met

(Stanley Brothers: Highway Of Regret ~ R. Stanley/D. Anthony)

Surfaces again in the song lyrics below:

Ain't talkin', just walkin'
My mule is sick, my horse is blind
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
Still thinkin' 'bout that gal I left behind

(Bob Dylan: Ain’t Talkin’)

Playwrite Thomas Hardy pities ordinary soldiers; deplores their masters – there be a pun on Napoleon Bonaparte’s name:

Onwards again
If Boney's come, 'tis best to be away
And if he's not, why we've a holiday

(Thomas Hardy: The Dynasts – Part One, Act II, sc.v)

Singer/songwriter Bob Dylan too makes fun of Napoleon’s last name:

You need a different kind of man, babe
One that can grab, and hold your heart
You need a different kind of man
You need Napoleon Bony-Part

(Bob Dylan: Hero Blues)

Thomas Hardy’s sentiment be basically anti-war; he tells the story of Napoleon’s snowy retreat from Moscow with this image of ‘The Grande Army’:

The caterpillar shape still creeps laboriously nearer .....
And there are left upon the ground behind it minute parts of itself

(Thomas Hardy: The Dynasts – Part Three,  Act I, sc. ix)

Then there’s this rendition of a song by its writer that’s about a broken heart – it includes the following Napoleonic analogy:

All your seasick sailors, they are rowin' home
All your reindeer armies are all goin' home
The lover who just walked out of your door
Has taken all his blankets from the floor

(Bob Dylan: It’s All Over Now Baby Blue)

Emperor Napoleon serves the singer/songwriter well as a symbol for a person possessing a militaristic attitude:

Your daddy walks in wearin'
A Napoleon Bonaparte mask
Then you ask me why I don't live here
Honey, do you have to ask?

(Bob Dylan: On The Road Again)

(This recording was found on the internet with the note “Performed by David Lowe
9/4/13 The Rev’s House sessions III”)

And as a symbol of the mighty who have fallen (the Duke of Wellington beats Napoleon at Waterloo):

You used to be so amused
At Napoleon-in-rags, and the language that he used
Go to him now, he calls you, you can't refuse
When you ain't got nothin', you got nothin' to lose

Bob Dylan: Like A Rolling Stone)

There’s the ‘Titanic’, the world’s grandest metaphor for an Existentialist Universe:

Over the mirrors meant
To glass the opulent
The sea-worm crawls
Grotesque, slimed, dumb, and indifferent

(Thomas Hardy: The Convergence Of The Twain)

Mixing up the medicine, it’s a viewpoint that Bob Dylan acknowledges:

Wellington, he was sleepin'
His bed began to slide
His valiant heart was beatin'
He pushed the tables aside

(Bob Dylan: Tempest)

What else is on the site

You’ll find some notes about our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.

The index to all the 590 Dylan compositions and co-compositions that we have found on the A to Z page.

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