Bob Dylan And Fitz-Greene Halleck (Part II)

Bob Dylan And Fitz-Greene Halleck

By Larry Fyffe

Like Bayard Taylor, Fitz-Greene Halleck be a member of the American  “Knickerbock” writers’ group; Fitz leaves his mark in the Jungian culture of American literary history to this day though he’s not that well known anymore.

A Byron enthusiast, Fitz pokes fun at what he considers to be human foibles on display during the tenure of his stay:

... he excelled them all
In the most noble of the sciences
The art of making money ....
Flashed like the midnight lightning on the eyes
Of all who knew him; brilliant traits of mind
And genius, clear and countless as the dies
Upon the peacocks plumage; taste refined
Wisdom and wit, were his - perhaps much more
'Tis strange they had not found it out before
(Fitz-Greene Halleck: Fanny)

Halleck’s not the only lyricist sometimes called the “American Byron”.

As evidenced in the song lyrics below:

Handy Dandy, he got a stick in his hand, and a pocket full 
of money
He says, "Darling, tell me the truth, how much time I got?"
She says, "You got all the time in the world, honey"
(Bob Dylan: Handy Dandy)

Which brings us, dear readers, to the possible source of another song. In a long satiric epic by Byron, Don Juan is bought as a slave by a Sultan’s wife; she has him dressed up as “Juanna”, and put to bed in the Oda with one of her help-maidens. Later on in the night, the girl screams; wakes others. The young virgin ‘explains’ what happened – it was a dream (note: a rather Blakean vision) “and in the midst a golden apple grew”.

Beneath are more lines about the story that the maiden tells about why she screams, her ‘Visions of Juanna’ so to speak –

it’s clear that the author thereof is not at all amused by the neoPlatonic visions of the Romantic Transcendentalist poets):

Just as her lips began to ope
Upon the golden fruit the vision bore
A bee flew out, and stung her to the heart
(George Byron: Don Juan, Canto VI)

Albeit not so humorous as those above, take what you can from the following song lyrics – take what you can gather from coincidence:

He writes everything's been returned that was owed
On the back of a fish truck that loads
While my conscience explodes
The harmonics play the skeleton keys and the rain
And these visions of Johanna are now all that remain
(Bob Dylan: Visions Of Johanna)



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7 Responses to Bob Dylan And Fitz-Greene Halleck (Part II)

  1. Larry fyffe says:

    “Handy Dandy” is on You Tube

  2. Larry fyffe says:

    Dylan names son ‘Jesse Byron …’

  3. Larry fyffe says:

    Louis “the King” Renza does not mention Fitz Halleck’s poem ‘Fanny’ but he does note that Bob Dylan’s “autobiographical” song ‘Positively Fourth Street” contains the same theme therein.

  4. Larry fyffe says:

    See: “Dylan’s Autobiography Of A Vocation” by Louis A. Renza
    (Expecting Rain)

  5. Larry fyffe says:

    What could be more Byronic than the song lyrics below:

    There’s beauty in the silver, singing river
    There’s beauty in the sunrise in the sky
    But none of these, and nothing else can touch the beauty
    That I remember in my true love’s eyes
    (Bob Dylan; Tomorrow Is A Long Time)

  6. Larry fyffe says:

    Note the rhyme twist ~ ‘sky’/’eyes’, and ‘skies’/’eyes’:

    She walks in beauty like the night
    Of cloudless climes and starry skies
    And all that’s best of dark and bright
    Meet in her aspect, and her eyes
    (George Byron: She Walks In Beauty)

  7. Larry fyffe says:

    *’Twas strange ….
    ** peacock’s ….

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