Bob Dylan And Robert Herrick (Part II)

Bob Dylan And Robert Herrick Part I

by Larry Fyffe

Robert Herrick and Edward Taylor are church leaders, but as poets they have a Baroque bent; and, though devoted to their respective religions, express puzzlement at the way God treats humankind:

Hence they have borne my Lord; behold! the stone
Is rolled away, and my sweet Saviour's gone
Tell me, white angel, what is now become
Of Him we lately sealed up in the tomb
(Robert Herrick: His Coming To The Sepulchre)

A reference to biblical scripture:

The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene
Early, when it was dark unto the sepulchre
And seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre ...
She supposing Him to be the gardener
Saith unto Him, Sir, if they have borne Him hence
Tell me where you have laid Him
(Book Of John 20: 1,15)

That’s a theme also detected, scrambled up, in the following song lyrics:

Someone hit me from behind ....
As I walked out in the mystic garden
On a hot summer day, a hot summer lawn
Excuse me, ma'am, I beg your pardon
There's no one here, the gardener is gone
(Bob Dylan: Ain't Talking)

Below, borrowing a bit from a song by another, mixed up is the medicine – the Dylanesque rhyme twists abounding ~ ‘gone’/’stone’; ~ ‘gone’/’lawn’; ~ ‘pardon’/’garden’.

A country dance was being held in the garden
I felt a bump, and heard an 'Oh, I beg your pardon'
Suddenly I saw polka dots and moodbeams
All around a pug-nosed dream
(Frank Sinatra: Polka Dots And Moonbeams ~ Burke/Van Heusen)

In the following poem, a warning that life lasts but a little while, and so ought to be, at least moderately, enjoyed while one is able:

Our life is short; and our days run
As fast as does the sun
And as a vapour, or a drop of rain
Once lost, can never be found again
(Robert Herrick: Corrina's Going A-Maying)

Seems, in the humourous song lyrics below, to be a warning heeded to extremes by some:

You promised to love me, but what do I see
Just you coming, spilling juice over me
Odds and ends, odds and ends
Lost time is not found again

(Bob Dylan: Odds And Ends)

The poet, in the verse beneath, has the unique hope of an everlasting life – though it lies not in Nature, but in his art:

All things decay with time: The forest sees
The growth and down-fall of her aged trees
The timber tall, which three-score lustres stood
The proud dictator of the state-like wood
I mean the sovereign of all plants, the oak
Droops, dies, and falls without the cleaver's stroke
(Richard Herrick: All Things Decay And Die)

A harder-than-an-oak hope expressed in the quote below:

The lights on my native land are glowing
I wonder if they'll know me next time 'round
I wonder if that old oak tree's still standing
That old oak tree, the one we used to climb
(Bob Dylan: Duquesne Whistle)


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