- Bob Dylan and Thomas Hardy Part I
- Bob Dylan and Thomas Hardy Part II
- Bob Dylan And Thomas Hardy (Part III)
- Bob Dylan And Thomas Hardy (Part IV)
- Bob Dylan and Thomas Hardy (Part V)
by Larry Fyffe
The Miltonic poet of Scotland describes how he sees the Babylon of his day:
Deceits, and perjuries, and vanities Rewarded worthlessness, rejected worth Assassinations, robberies, thefts, and wars Disasterous accidents, life thrown away Divinity insulted, Heaven despised Religion scorned ....
(Robert Pollok: The Course Of Time)
In sentiment quite like the song lyrics, by the modern-day American singer/songwriter/musician, presented below:
Big-time negotiators, false healers, and woman haters Masters of the bluff, masters of the proposition But the enemy I see wears a cloak of decency All non-believers, and men-stealers, talking in the name of religion (Bob Dylan: Slow Train)
In the romantic-realistic-naturalistic novel “A Pair Of Blue Eyes”, Thomas Hardy quotes from poetry penned by the Scottish ‘Dissenter’:
And now her eyes grew bright, and brighter still Too bright for ours to look upon, suffused With many tears, and closed without a cloud They set as sets the morning star, which goes Not down behind the darkened west, nor hides Obscured among the tempests of the sky But melts away in the light of heaven (Robert Pollok: The Course Of Time)
In his story, Hardy depicts beautiful Elfride as a young, and kitten-like; no man-eating belle without mercy is she, but her name brings to mind a dark romantic ballad:
She took me to her Elfin grot And there she wept, and sighed full sore And there I shut her wild wild eyes With kisses four (John Keats: La Belle Dame Sans Merci)
Thomas quotes the following lines from the Gothic poem – ‘Knight’ is the last name of one of her four suitors:
I set her upon my pacing steed And nothing else saw all day long For sidelong would she bend, and sing A faery's song (John Keats: La Belle Dame Sans Merci)
The novel focuses on Elfride’s love and affection when it’s torn between two suitors – Stephen Smith, an ambitious country lad, son of a mason, who’s determined to improve his economic situation; and Henry Knight, a well-established man from London, a barrister, and an editor, with an avid interest in geology; he rejects the blue-eyed fairy- girl when he finds out that she’s been previously courted.
Aspects of Charles Darwin’s science, which considers the physical environment uncaring as to the fate of human beings, lurk in the background of the novel – it’s the female, chess-playing, Elfride who saves Knight by tearing up her undergarments when Henry falls over a cliff; independent-minded, she, in the end, rejects both suitors; marries, dies giving birth; leaving together her two frustrated male suitors to make their way back to ‘the grey still valley.’
In the song lyrics below, matters mixed-up are too – the same poetic Gothic belle-well drawn upon:
The tempest struggles in the air .... You trampled on me as you passed All of my doubts and fears have gone at last I've nothing more to tell you now (Bob Dylan: Tell Old Bill)
Bob Dylan and Thomas Hardy – two very creative artists, and both oft under-rated by art critics who know not of what they speak.
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 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