Bob Dylan And Stephen Crane (Part II)

Previously published: Bob Dylan and Stephen Crane (part I)


by Larry Fyffe

In the onomatopoeic lines below, though he be influenced by the neo-Romantic sentiments of Friedrich Nietzsche, and the dark tenets of anti-Romanic Naturalism of modernist writers, the poet alludes to biblical scripture:

Black riders came from the sea
There was clang and clang of spear and shield
The clash and clash of hoof and heel
(Stephen Crane: Black Riders)

Poetry, full of irony, that has an obvious effect on musician/singer/songwriter Bob Dylan:

Something came up out of the sea
Swept through the land of the rich and the free
(Bob Dylan: 'Cross The Green Mountain)

The biblical allusion is to the Egyptian, Babylonian, and Assyrian invaders of northern and southern Israel:

Which were clothed with blue
Captains and rulers, all of them desirable young men
Horsemen riding upon horses
(Ezekiel 23: 6)

In the following poem, the futility of war is expressed, though it’s in vain:

I saw a man pursing the horizon
Round and round he sped
I was disturbed at this
I accosted the man
"It is futile", I said
"You can never - "
"You lie", he cried
And ran on
(Stephen Crane; I Saw A Man )

A cynicism found below in song lyrics:

Beyond the horizon, in the springtime or the fall
Love waits forever, for me and for all
Beyond the horizon, across the divide
Around about midnight, we'll be on the same side
(Bob Dylan: Beyond The Horizon)

The Modernist poet tosses in a slip of Sigmund Freud:

I stood upon a highway
And, behold, there came
Many strange pedlars
To me each one made gestures
Holding forth little images, saying
"This is the pattern of my God
Now this is the God I prefer"
(Stephen Crane: I Stood Upon The Highway)

The male poet is not alone:

A narrow fellow in the grass
Occasionaly rides
You may have met him, did you not
His notice sudden is
(Emily Dickinson: A Narrow Fellow In The Grass)

Given an explicit twist in the song lyrics beneath:

Black rider, black rider, hold it right there
The size of your cock will get you nowhere
I'll suffer in silence, I'll make not a sound
Maybe I'll take the high moral ground
(Bob Dylan: Black Rider)

Said less bluntly in reference to divided Israel in the Holy Bible:

For she doted upon their paramours
Whose flesh is as the flesh of asses
And whose issue is like the issue of horses
(Ezekiel 23: 20)

One final example of existential angst on the part of the poet:

I looked here
I looked there
No where could I see my love
(Stephen Crane: I Looked Here, I Looked There)

Echoed in the song lyrics below:

Has anybody seen my love
Has anybody seen my love
I don't know
Has anybody seen my love
(Bob Dylan: Tight Connection To My Heart)

What else?

You can read about the writers who kindly contribute to Untold Dylan in our About the Authors page.   And you can keep an eye on our current series by checking the listings on the home page

You’ll also find, at the top of this page, and index to some of our series established over the years.

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