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)
If you would like to read more, Untold Dylan also has a very active Facebook group: Untold Dylan.
If you would like to see some of our series they are listed under the picture at the top of the page, and the most recent entries can be found on the home page.
If you would like to contribute an article please drop a line to Tony@schools.co.uk