Revealed: More Bob Dylan Time-Travel 

Revealed: More Bob Dylan Time-Travel

Previous time travel articles:

By Larry Fyffe

After a long but successful search, the diligent investigators at the Untold Dylan Archives Department have uncovered some very dusty, but revealing documentation concerning the singer/songwriter.

Discovered is that Bob Dylan encouraged by Allen Ginsberg decide to travel together back in time to Paris just after members of the Commune topple the the statue of Napoleon in Vendome Place.

Mentioned in the following song lyrics:

Well, I've been to London, and I've been to gay Paree
I've followed the river, and I got to the sea
(Bob Dylan: Not Dark Yet)

In an unsigned letter that he obviously decides not to deliver to a New York newspaper, Dylan confirms that the French poet Arthur Rimbaud was there at the time:

“I go out of my way and give Arthur a copy of my song ‘Lily, Rosemary, And The Jack Of Hearts’, and as the three of us are leaving together, the smart-assed, foul-mouthed kid passes me a note in which he calls me a ‘Flower’.”

The note reads:

In short, is a Flower, Rosemary
Or Lily, dead or alive, worth
The excrement of one seabird

Mimicking lines of the following song in which Rosemary is hanged:

Lily had already taken all the dye out of her hair
She was thinking 'bout her father, who she very rarely saw
Thinking 'bout Rosemary, and thinking 'bout the law
But most of all, she was thinking 'bout the Jack ofHearts

(Bob Dylan: Lily, Rosemary, And The Jack Of Hearts)

With the Untold letter is a photograph taken at the time; Dylan points out in red pencil that Rimbaud is fifth from the right in the photo; Ginsberg is the man with the beard who’s ninth from the right, and himself fourteenth from the right, recognizable by his ‘warehouse eyes’; Dylan states that, though partially obscured, he can’t be missed beause he’s wearing modern-day plastic sunglasses.

The story revealed by the ‘lost’ documents rings true. Never one to forget a slight, Dylan mocks Rimbaud in the song lyrics below – Arthur gets wounded by Paul Verlaine after the Dylan/Rimbaud insult incident:

Situations have ended sad
Relationships have ended bad
Mine have been like Verlaine's and Rimbaud
(Bob Dylan: You Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go)

In the following poem, Rimbaud writes about being raped by Communard soldiers:

I'll retch to see my heart
Trampled by these clods
What will my stolen heart do
When they've shot their wads
(Arthur Rimbaud: Stolen Heart ~ translated)

In the song lyrics below, thinly disguised and cynical, no sympathy at all is shown for the young Frenchman’s sexual problems.

Having been called a ‘Flower’ by Rimbaud, Bob gets his own back by calling Arthur a ‘Butterfly’:

Madame Butterfly 
She lulled me to sleep
In a town without pity
Where the water runs deep
She said, 'Be easy, baby
There ain't nothing worth stealing in here'
(Bob Dylan: Tight Connection To My Heart)


The Dylan/Rimbaud/Ginsberg documents remain under lock and key at the Archives Department.

What else?

There are details of some of our more recent articles listed on our home page.  You’ll also find, at the top of the page, and index to some of our series established over the years.

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  1. It’s a Jungian jungle out there:

    In ‘”Lily, Rosemary, And the Jack Of Hearts”, it’s Lily who’s called a ‘butterfly’.

    In the opera ‘Madame Butterfly’, the butterfly kills herself over rejected love.

    Rimbaud is pronounced ‘Rambo”.

  2. “Rimbaud”(Rambo) rhymes with ‘know,’, ‘ slow’, ‘below’ , and ‘go’ in “You Gonna Make Me Lonesome’

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