Bob Dylan And Stephen Crane (Part IV)



by Larry Fyffe

The Red Badge Of Courage” is an Existentialist/Naturalist  novel, the story of which takes place during the American Civil War. The indifference of the Universe to the plight of humankind is depicted as a cowardly soldier becomes a brave one after he’s assisted in his recovery – he being injured by a fellow soldier who’s fleeing from a battle.

The song lyrics below are about the Civil War – The historical General Jackson dies after being shot accidentally by his own men in the haze and fog of war:

Close the eyes of our captain, peace may he know

His long night is done, the great leader is laid low
He was ready to fall, he was quick to defend
Killed outright by his own men
(Bob Dylan: 'Cross The Green Mountain)


The singer/songwriter/musician below pays tribute to an American neoRomantic-Transcendental poet:

A letter to mother came today
Gunshot wound to the breast is what it did say
But he'll be better soon, he's in a hospital bed
But he'll never be better, he's already dead
(Bob Dylan: 'Cross The Green Mountain)

Drawn from the lyrics of the following poem:

Sentences broken, "gunshot wound to the breast, cavalry

skirmish, taken to hospital

At present low, but soon will be better"

(Walt Whitman: Come Up From The Fields Father)

Tributes Stephen Crane too whose God is much farther away than Whitman’s:

Black Riders came from the sea
There was clang and clang of spear
and shield
(Stephen Crane: Black Riders Came From The Sea)

Paid to the poet in the lines beneath:

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

In the “The Red Badge Of Courage”, the soldier no longer sees war as Romantic as he once did, but he becomes heroic to help himself and his unit survive.

A motif expressed in the song lyrics beneath:
Let them say that I walked in fair nature's light
And that I was loyal to truth and to right
Serve God and be cheerful, look upward beyond
Beyond the darkness  of man, and  the surprises of dawn
In the deep green grasses, and the  blood-stained world
They never dreamed of surrendering
 They fell where they stood
(Bob Dylan: 'Cross The Green Mountain)

And in the poem beneath:

"Tell brave deeds of war"
Then they recounted tales
"There were stern stands
And bitter runs for glory"
(Stephen Crane: Tell Brave Deeds Of War)

The poem below shows the influence of Whitman:

In Heaven, some little blades of grass
Stood before God
"What did you do?" ....
The little blade of grass answered, "Oh, my Lord
Memory is bitter to me
For if I did good deeds
I know not of them"
(Stephen Crane: Little Blades Of Grass)

Overall, far more Romantic and contented be Walt:

I loafe, and invite my soul
I lean and loafe at my ease
Observing a spear of summer grass
(Walt Whitman: Song Of Myself)

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 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

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