By Larry Fyffe
Themes expressed in prose, plays, poetry, and song-and-music deal with the trials and tribulations of human existence.
From the Bard, hopes of happiness found in a life so brief:
If he thrives, and I be cast away The worst was this: my love was my decay (William Shakespeare: Sonnet LXXX)
From Romantic poets, hopes of eternal fame achieved through one’s works:
Keeps his pale court in beauty and decay He came; and bought, with price of purest breath A grave among the eternal. - Come away (Percy Shelley: Adonais)
Hopes smashed by the sand:
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away (Percy Shelley: Ozymandias)
From Gospel, a promise of eternal life in a paradisal hereafter:
Beautiful flowers that will never decay Gathered by angels and carried away (Kitty Wells: Gathering Flowers For The Master's Bouquet ~ Baumgardner)
From blues, sadness of life in the micro-sphere:
It's such a sad thing to see beauty decay It's sadder still to feel your heart torn away (Bob Dylan: Cold Irons Bound)
And sadness in the macro-sphere:
I said the soul of a nation is torn away And it's beginning to go into a slow decay (Bob Dylan: Murder Most Foul)
That is to say that those who seek to make a clear distinction between literature and song search in vain.
The works of Shelley haunt the song lyrics beneath:
Businessmen, they drink my wine Ploughmen, they dig my earth None of them along the line No what any of it is worth (Bob Dylan: All Along The Watchtower)
Nature’s free-wheeling, regenerative beauty can be felt, even broken at times, but not replicated:
And the sunlight clasps the earth And the moonbeams kiss the sea What is all this sweet work worth If thou kiss not me (Percy Shelley: Love's Philosophy)
An everlasting Universe beyond the understanding of mortal human beings:
Column, tower, and dome, and spire Shine like obelisks of fire Pointed with inconstant motion From the altar of dark ocean To the sapphire-tinted skies (Percy Shelley: Euganean Hills)
Quite alien she can be:
There's a woman on my lap, and she's drinking champagne Got white skin, got assassin's eyes I'm looking up into sapphire-tinted skies I'm well dressed, waiting on the last train (Bob Dylan: Things Have Changed)
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