Bob Dylan: Crossing The Green Mountain Again


By Larry Fyffe

During the American Civil War, general Stonewall Jackson is accidentally shot by his own men. Surgeon Zimmerman puts the monstrous Civil War back together by gathering alliterative parts and pieces from different poets in his song ” ‘Cross The Green Mountain”:

From Julia Howe:

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a a hundred circling camps
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps
(The Battle-Hymn Of The Republic)

To this:

Altars are burning, the flames falling wide
(Bob Dylan: 'Cross The Green Mountain)

From William Yeats:

Black out; Heaven blazing into the head
Tragedy wrought to the utmost
(Lapis Lazuli)

To this:

I cross the Green Mountain, I slept by the stream
Heaven blazing in my head, I dreamt a monstrous dream
(Bob Dylan: 'Cross The Green Mountain)

From Nathaniel Shepherd:

For the foe had crossed from the other side
That day, in the face of murderous fire
That swept them down in its terrible ire
And their life-blood went to colour the tide
(The Roll Call)

To this:

The foe has crossed over from the other side
They tip their caps from top of a hill
(Bob Dylan: 'Cross The Green Mountain)

From Henry Timrod:

But still along yon dim Atlantic line
The only hostile smoke
Creeps like a harmless mist above the brine
From some frail floating oak

And from Henry Melville:

The ravaged land was miles behind
And Loudon spread her landscapes rare
(The Scout Toward Aldie)

To this:

All along the dim Atlantic line
The ravaged land lies miles behind
(Bob Dylan: 'Cross The Green Mountain)

From Henry Flash:

Not 'mid the lightning of the stormy fight
Nor in the rush of the vandal foes
Did kingly Death, with his resistless might
Lay the great leader low

(The Death Of Stonewall Jackson)

To this:

Close the eyes of our captain, peace may he know
His long night is done, the great leader is laid low
(Bob Dylan: 'Cross The Green Mountain)

From Robert C. Waterston:

The memory of the just
Shall still be dear, whatever their earthly lot
Dust may return to dust
But Virtue lives, and cannot be forgot
(The Departed)

To this:

Pride will vanish, and glory will rot
But virtue lives on, and cannot be forgot
(Bob Dylan: 'Cross The Green Mountain)

From William Gannett:

Only ten miles from the city
And how I am lifted away
To the peace that passeth knowing
And the night that is not day
(Sunday On The Hill-Top)

To this:

I'm ten miles outside the city, and I'm lifted away
In an ancient light that is not day
(Bob Dylan: 'Cross The Green Mountain)

From Walt Whitman:

See, dearest mother, the letter says Pete will soon be better
Alas, poor boy, he will never be better ....
While they stand at home neat the door, he is dead already
The only son is dead
(Come Up From The Fields Father)

To this:

But he will better soon, he's in a hospital bed
But he'll never be better, he's already dead
(Bob Dylan: 'Cross The Green Mountain)

From Henry Longfellow:

And I saw a vision how far and fleet
That fatal bullet went speeding forth ....
And a bell was tolled, in that far-off town
For one who had passed from cross to crown
(Killed At The Ford)

To this:

The bells of evening have rung
There's blasphemy on the end of the tongue
Let them say that I walked in fair nature's light
And that I was loyal to truth and to right
(Bob Dylan: 'Cross The Green Mountain)


There be biblical allusions in ‘Cross The Green Mountain’:

And I stood upon the sand of the sea
And saw a beast rise up out of the sea
Having seven heads and ten horns
And upon his heads the name of blasphemy
(Book Of Revelations 13:1)

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  1. Timrod be influenced by the English Romantics:

    And the dim low line before
    Of a dark and distant shore
    (Percy Shelley: Euganean Hills)

  2. I’m looking up into the sapphire-tinted skies
    (Bob Dylan: Things Have Changed)

    From the altar of dark ocean
    To the sapphire-tinted skies
    As the flames of sacrifice
    (Percy Shelley: Euganean Hills)

  3. Thanks … read the piece and wondered at the end if you were accusing Dylan or congratulating him, praising him. It didn’t say but thanks again for printing it…Cheers.

  4. I noted in a previous exegesis of ATGM here, that there is an altogether curious and unique footnote appended to its entry in The Lyrics:

    Bob Dylan The Lyrics. ( 2014 ) Ed. Christopher Ricks, appears this footnote to Across The Green Mountain ;
    “ref. Heroic epic; Croatian ( Southern Dalmatia ) translated from MAJA BOŠKOVIC-STULLI 1966; 1977 HEDA JASON, DIMITRI SEGAL Patterns in Oral Literature. Milan went across the green mountain. In the Kosovo epic poems, Toplica Milan ( Milan of Toplica ) is a fictional Serbian nobleman and ally of Prince Lazar who presided during the civil wars of the 1360s and 1370s and was killed in the Battle of Kosovo. In this verse, Milan returns home after being wounded and then cured by Vilas fairy queens of South Slavic folklore. “

  5. The American ‘Hermitage’ site falsely claims that General Andrew Jackson
    (not the George above) led the Americans to victory in the War of 1812.

    In fact the Americans were driven from Canada and the White House burned –
    known as Canada’s “War of Independence.”

    The ‘Battle of New Orleans’ fought after the peace treaty had already been signed.

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