Bob Dylan And The Three Cranes Part 1


By Larry Fyffe

Embedded in the song verse below be a riddle that first must be decoded – hint, ‘Henry’ is the name of the main soldier in ‘The Red Badge Of Courage”:

Now, I'm starting to drain
My stool's gonna squeak
If I walk too much farther
My crane's gonna leak
(Bob Dylan: Please Mrs Henry)

The solution is that either Stephen Crane or Hart Crane is gonna speak.

Okay … okay … let’s get serious for a moment.

The poetic lyrics below speak of a hopeful awakening of a new morning in the Promised Land:

The fog leans one last moment on the sill
Under the misletoe of dreams, a star
As though to join us at some distant hill
Turns in the waking west, and goes to sleep
(Hart Crane: Harbour Dawn)

Of a less polluted place than that depicted in the following line:

The yellow fog that rubs its back up on the window-panes

(TS Eliot: The Love Song Of J Alfred Prufrock)

Feelings of hope and doubt also expressed in the song lyrics below; rhyming again ~ ‘hill’/’sill’:

Well, I ride on a mail train, baby, can't buy a thrill
Well, I been up all night, leaning on the window sill
Well, if I die on the top of the hill
And if I don't make it
You know my baby will

(Bob Dylan: It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry)

Darker are the poetic lines below – conceited yes, but hope there’s still:

Should the whole wide world roll away
Leaving black terror
Limitless night
Nor God, nor man, nor place to stand
Would be to me essential
If thou and thy white arms were there

(Stephen Crane: Should The Whole World Roll Away)

Above, the theme of the quick passage of time, drawn from the poem quoted beneath:

Had we world enough and time
This coyness, lady, were no crime
We will sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day

(Andrew Marvell: To His Coy Mistress)

Giving rise to cynicism that’s expressed in the following song lyrics:

I was born here, and I'll die here against my will
I know it looks like I'm moving, but I'm standing still
Every nerve in my body is so vacant and numb
That I can't even remember what it was I came here to get away from

(Bob Dylan: Not Dark Yet)


Hey, but I fooled you, dear readers – the “Please Mrs Henry” verse above is actually about Ichabod Crane:

And he would have passed a pleasant life of it, in despite of the devil
and all his works, if his path had not been crossed by a being
that causes more perplexing to mortal man than ghosts, goblins, and
the whole race of witches put together, and that was - a woman

(Washington Irving: The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow)

A sentiment conveyed at the beginning of song below:

Some of us turn off the lights, and we live
In the moonlight shooting by
Some of us scare ourselves to death in the dark
To be where the angels fly

(Bob Dylan: Red River Shore)

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
  • 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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