Bob Dylan And Robert Herrick (Part IV): Can This Really Be The End


By Larry Fyffe

Bob Dylan is singing out:

We sit here stranded, though we are all doing our best to deny it
And Louise holds a handful of rain, tempting you to defy it
(Bob Dylan: Visions Of Johanna)

He’s on a freight train coming up around the bend with a bunch of odds and ends on board –  including Robert Herrick, Andrew Marvell, Edward Taylor, and William Blake.

As the train chugs along the tracks, they sip on a few pints; make up songs together.

First Rob comes up with the verse below ; he sings it in a loud voice:

And, as a vapor, or a drop of rain
Once lost, can never been found again ....
All love, all liking, all delight
Lies down with us in endless night
(Robert Herrick: Corinna's Going A-Maying)

Bill chimes in:

Every morn, and every night
Some are born to sweet delight
Some are born to sweet delight
Some are born to endless night
(William Blake: Auguries Of Innocence)

Bob finishes it off:

And stopped into a strange hotel
With a neon burning bright
He felt the heat of the night
Hit him like a freight train

(Bob Dylan: Simple Twist Of Fate)


Everyone has a few more sips, and Eddie starts a new one:

Who spread its canopy, or curtains spun
Who in this bowling alley bowled the sun
Who made it always when it rises set
To go at once both down, and up to get
(Edward Taylor: The Preface)

Andy jumps in with:

Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Through the iron gates of life
(Andrew Marvell: To His Coy Mistress)

And it’s closed out by Bobby:

I shook his hand, and said, "Goodbye"
Ran out to the street 
When a bowling ball came down the road
And knocked me off my feet
(Bob Dylan: 115th Dream)


A couple of bottles of wine are opened up; Rob takes a gulp from one of’em; breaks into a hymn:

In the hour of my distress
When temptations me oppress
And when I my sins confess
Sweet Spirit comfort me

(Robert Herrick: His Litany To The Holy Spirit)

They’re all having a great time; Bob takes a mouthful, and comes up with this mournful ending:

In the time of my confession
In the hour of my deepest need ....
There's a dying voice within me
Reaching out somewhere
Toiling in the danger
And in the morals of despair

(Bob Dylan: Every Grain Of Sand)

It’s all in fun, serving as a bit of distraction from being stuck on the freight train that’s running on tracks

…. ’til Rob gets a bit to tipsy, raises his glass, and proposes a toast to Andy’s girlfried whose name is Juliana:

Breathe, Julia, breathe, and I’ll protest,
    Nay more, I’ll deeply swear,
That all the spices of the east
    Are circumfused there.

(Robert Herrick: on Julia’s Breath)

Without thinking, Bob steps in between them when Andy pulls out a penknife, and threatens to kill Rob right there and then; ad libbing, Bob picks up his guitar, and sings a song in opera style to Rob, who’s scared ….I  mean, really scared:

Idiot wind

Blowing through the flowers on your tomb
Blowing through the curtains in your room
Idiot wind
Blowing every time you move your teeth
You're an idiot, babe
It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe

(Bob Dylan: Idiot Wind)

Anyway, all hell breaks loose with fists a-flying, bottles a-breaking, ….the engine, boxcars …. everything jumps off the tracks, ….everybody gets scalded by the steam.

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