Untold Dylan

Bob Dylan And Stephen Crane (Part III)

By Larry Fyffe
There was a man
Who lived a life of fire
Even upon the fabric of time
Where purple became orange
And orange purple

(Stephen Crane: There Was A Man)

Dualistic Gnostic-Naturalist poet Stephen Crane at his side, singer/songwriter Bob Dylan rides beyond the  rainbow.

 Looking down, the cowboy angel is gripped by existentialist angst:

State gone broke, the country's dry
Don't be looking at me with that evil eye
Keep on walking, don't be hanging around
I'm telling you again that Hell's my wife's home town

(Bob Dylan: My Wife's Home Town ~ Dylan/Hunter)



From the Gnostic point of view, the material world is wrapped in darkness, quite separated from the lighted spiritual world of goodness: 

Though she resisted, I drew away the veil
And gazed at the features of vanity
She, shamefaced, went on
And after I had mused for a time
I said of myself, "fool"

 That Untranscendental-Romantic view echoes in the song lyrics below where better thought it is that the dark natural plane remain covered up:

A messenger arrived with a black nightingale
I seen her on the stairs , and couldn't help but follow
Follow her down past the fountain where they lifted her veil

(Bob Dylan: Changing Of The Guards)

 Better indeed that the sorrowful plight of the human condition be comforted by religion and tradition – even after spiritual sparks set afire the rebellious hearts of men:

Tradition, thou art for suckling children
Thou art the enlivening milk for babes
But no meat for men is in thee
Then -
But, alas, we all are babes

(Stephen Crane: Tradition)

A sentiment expressed more cynically in the song lyrics beneath: 

I'd forever talk to you
But soon my words would turn into a meaningless ring
For deep in my heart, I know there is no help I can bring
Everything passes, everything changes
Just do what you think you should do
And someday maybe
Who knows, baby
I'll come and make crying to you

(Bob Dylan: To Ramona)


William Blake-like and John Keats-like be the poem below: 

Love walked alone
The rocks cut her hands and her feet
And the brambles tore her fair limbs
There came a companion to her
But, alas, there was no help
For his name was Heart's Pain

(Stephen Crane: Love Walked Alone)

 Beneath, not by the noncaring environment, but by the human narrator is the injurious conceit inflicted:

Let me through, open the door
My soul is distressed, my mind is at war
Don't hug me, don't flatter me, don't turn on the charm
I'll take a sword, and hack off your arm

(Bob Dylan: Black Rider)

The singer inspired by the poem below:

Then a cunning pupil
Changed the positions
Turned the sage again
"Now this one is the devil
And this one is me"
The pupils sat, all grinning
And rejoiced in the game

(Stephen Crane: The Sage Lectured)

 Rhyming ‘game’ with ‘flame’, the black-horse-riding narrator puts his feet back on the ground:

Black rider, black rider, you've seen it all
You've seen the great world, and you've seen the small
You fell into the fire, and you're eating the flame
Better seal up your lips if you wanna stay in the game

(Bob Dylan: Black Rider)

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.  Series we are currently running include

  • The art work of Bob Dylan’s albums
  • The Never Ending Tour year by year with recordings
  • Bob Dylan and Stephen Crane
  • Beautiful Obscurity – the unexpected covers
  • All Directions at Once

You’ll find links to all of them on the home page of this site

If you have an article or an idea for an article which could be published on Untold Dylan, please do write to Tony@schools.co.uk with the details – or indeed the article itself.

We also have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with getting on for 10,000 members. Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link    And because we don’t do political debates on our Facebook group there is a separate group for debating Bob Dylan’s politics – Icicles Hanging Down

One comment

  1. *….. I said of myself ‘fool’ – (Stephen Crane: Once Upon The Road Of My Life)

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