Bob Dylan And Robert Herrick Part I


By Larry Fyffe


Robert Herrick generally writes simple musical poems, often containing a mixture of Greek/Roman mythology, folk lore, and Christian thought about the joys of youth, and the pleasures of sex – in spite of the spectre of Death; nonetheless he can be grouped with the Metaphysical or Baroque poets because of his use of conceits, and his seize-the-day philosophy:

Gather ye rosebuds while thee may
Old Time is still a-flying
And the same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying
(Robert Herrick: To The Virgins To Make Much Of Time)

Referencing a poem by Shakespeare in which the Bard notes that a work of art outlasts the beauty of a youthful actor:

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day
Thou art more lovely, and more temperate
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May
And summer's lease hath all too short a date
(William Shakespeare: Sonnet 18)

In the poem below, it be a female Muse that inspires:

I must confess, mine eyes and heart
Dotes less on Nature than on Art
(Robert Herrick: Art Above Nature:To Julia)

In the following song lyrics, the ‘rose’ is again a symbol of youth as well as of physical love; fade it may, but regenerated it can be:

Now when all the flower ladies want back what they have lent you
And the smell of their roses does not remain
And all of your children start to resent you
Won't you come see me Queen Jane
(Bob Dylan: Queen Jane Approximately)

In the following double-edged lyrics, the creation of a beautiful piece of art apparently has side benefits:

I'm going down to Rose Marie's
She never does me wrong
She puts it to me plain as day
And gives it to me for a song
(Bob Dylan: Going To Acapulco)

These creative artists imagine within Nature a spirituality, both dark and light, that lies beyond that which is revealed by the physical world:

I sing of times trans-shifting; and I write
How roses first came red, and lilies white
I write of groves, of twilights, and I sing
The court of Mab, and of the fairy king
(Robert Herrick: The Argument Of His Book)

So be it as well in the song lyrics quoted beneath – albeit the character of Mab is somewhat humorously darkened:

Charotte's a harlot
Dresses in scarlet
Mary dresses in green
It's soon after midnight
And I've got a date
With the fairy queen
(Bob Dylan: Soon After Midnight)

In the poem below, there’s a hedonistic theme ~

Let us eat, and drink
For tomorrow we shall die (Isaiah 22:13):

Born I was to be old
And for to die here
After that, in the mould
Long for to lie here
(Robert Herrick: Anacreontic, A Drinking Song)

Too in the following song lyrics:

I was born here, and I'll die here, against my will
I know it looks like I'm moving, but I'm standing still
Every nerve in my body is naked and numb
I can't even remember what it was I came here to get away from
(Bob Dylan: Not Dark Yet)

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