Bob Dylan And Thomas Hardy (Part XI)

Bob Dylan and Thomas Hardy

By Larry Fyffe

In his novel ‘The Well-Beloved’, Thomas Hardy relates the story a self-serving sculptor from London who justifies his lusting after three generations of girls from an island family by explaining he’s chasing after the ideal ‘feminine spirit’.

Only when old does the sculptor feel it’s time to settle down with a good woman, but his last hope runs off with a guy her own age; he ends up having sex with none of his ‘beloveds’; marries a female friend instead.

Hardy backs up his emotional-driven novel with quotes from relevant poems.

From a poet of sonnets and odes (Allen Ginsberg mentions that he dropped of books to Bob Dylan, one that contained Sir Wyatt’s poems):

Since love will needs that I shall love
Of very force I must agree
And since no chance  may it remove
In wealth and in adversity
I shall always myself apply
To serve and suffer patiently
(Sir Thomas Wyatt: The Lover Determineth To Serve Faithfully)

Hardy quotes from a poet of oxymorons and conceits:

Now, if time knows
That her whose radiant brows
Weave them a garland of my vows ...
Her that does be
What these lines wish to see
I seek no further, it is she
(Richard Crashaw: Wishes To His Supposed Mistress)

In Greek/Roman mythology, Cyprian sculptor Pygmalion falls in love with an ivory statue of a female that he’s carves, and Aphrodite/Venus brings the piece of art alive that he craves.

Quck come see, from the poetic lines below, Hardy quotes:

One on his youth and pliant limbs relies
One on his sinews and giant size
The last is stiff with age, his motion slow
(Virgil: The Aeneid, book v ~ translated)

The darkling Hardy theme expressed in the double-edged song lyrics beneath:

The girls all say, "You're a worn-out star
My pockets are loaded, and I'm spending every dime
How can you say you love someone else
When you know it's me all the time
(Bob Dylan: Summer Days)

In “The Well-Beloved” be cited the following lines:

And, like a captain who beleaguers round
Some stong-built castle on a rising ground
Views all the approaches with observing eyes
This and that other part in vain he tries
And more on industry than force relies
(Virgil: The Aenead,  book v ~ translated)

Then there’s this:

All along the watchtower
Princes kept the view
While all the women came and went
Barefoot servants too
Outside in the distance
A wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching
The wind began to howl
(Bob Dylan: All Along The Watchtower)

As well, the motif of the trials and tribulations that an artist goes through as s/he endeavours to create a piece of art that will last threads through all the works mentioned above.


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