Bob Dylan Takes The Frosty Path

by Larry Fyffe

The city-dwelling Romantic Transcendentalist poet in the lines below finds comfort from the memory of a sunlit breeze in the countryside:

When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of golden daffodils
Beside the lake, beneath the trees
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze
(William Wordsworth: I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud)

Not so the Modernist poet quoted beneath; the hustle and bustle of modern city life darkens his vision of the natural world:

The memory throws up high and dry
A crowd of twisted things
A twisted branch upon the beach
Eaten smooth and polished
(TS Eliot: Rhapsody On A Windy Night)

There’s a yearning hope for some “gentle” healing power from outside the self, expressed in the following song lyrics:

Treat me kindly dear blue angel
Deepest colour of the night
Be merciful, be gentle
For I have no strength to fight
(Dave Cousins: Blue Angel)

Somewhat like the sentiment expressed in the “response” lyrics below, but the strength to fight the “chilly breeze” is to come from within oneself:

I felt the emptiness so wide
I don't know what's wrong from right
I just know I need the strength to fight
Strength to fight the world outside
(Bob Dylan: Life Is Hard ~ Dylan/Hunter)

TS Eliot questions the motif of strength coming from within the individual:

Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
(TS Eliot: The Hollow Men)

TS Eliot admires the prose of Henry James, an American who became a British citizen; James is a writer caught on the borderline between the older Hegel-influenced Romantic Transcendentalists and the new Realists.

In the novel ‘Daisy Miller’ by Henry James, the Calvinistic-bent American Mr. Winterbourne, now a class-oriented Victorian moralist living in Switzerland, is confused by the flirty behaviour of newly-arrived younger ‘Daisy’ Miller from America.

The use of correlative symbolism in regards to a person’s name casually picked up in the Robert Frost-influenced song lyrics beneath:

Winterlude, Winterlude, my little daisy
Winterlude, by the telephone wire
Winterlude, it's making me lazy
Come on, sit by the logs in the fire
(Bob Dylan: Winterlude)


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