Odds And Ends: The Dylanesque Rhyme Twist (Part IV)

By Larry Fyffe
Bob Dylan likes nothing better than to mess with proper rhyming as illustrated in the following alliterative verses that involve the Dylanesque ‘rhyme twist’.

He sometimes messes with the end-rhyme he carries over from the song that he pays tribute to – ‘dry’/’cry’:

Way up on the mountains, I wonder alone
I’m drunk as the devil, let me alone
It’s beef steak when I’m hungry, rye whiskey when I’m dry
And when I get thirsty, I lay down and cry

(Wilf Carter: Rye Whiskey ~ traditional)

In the lyrics below, Dylan introduce a syllabic end-rhyme: – ‘dry’/’cryin’:

You left me sandin’ in the doorway cryin’
In the dark land of the sun
I’ll eat when I’m hungry, drink when I’m dry
And live my life on the square
And even if the flesh falls off my face
I know someone will be there to care

(Bob Dylan: Standing In The Doorway)

In the following lines, there’s a selfsame rhyme – ‘alone’/’alone’:

Meet me by the moonlight, love, meet me
Meet me by the moonlight alone
For I have a sad story to tell you
To be told by the moonlight alone

(The Carter Family: The Prisoner’s Song ~ traditional)

Below a reworked end-rhyme that is a true one – ‘alone’/’tone’:

The seasons, they are turnin’
And my and heart is yearnin’
To hear the songbird’s melodious tone
Won’t you meet me in the moonlight all alone

(Bob Dylan: Moonlight)

The two songs following Dylan obviously links, and he marks this fact by dropping an odd rhyme twist on the song he sources – ‘upon/pawn’:

Take back all the gifts you have given
But a ring and a lock of your hair
And a card with you picture upon it
It’s a face that is false, but it’s fair
Oh, I’ll pawn you my gold watch and chain, love
And I’ll pawn you my gold diamond ring

(The Carter Family: Gold Watch And Chain ~ by Thomas Westendorf)

Westendorf resonates ‘upon’ with ‘pawn’ within his own song, but Dylan comes up with an unaccompanied cross-over twister – ‘upon it’/’pawn it’:

Ah, princes on the steeple, and all the pretty people
They’re all drinkin’, thinkin’ that they got it made
Exchanging all precious gifts
But you’d better take your diamond ring, you better
pawn it, babe

(Bob Dylan: Like A Rolling Stone)

The following verse by Edgar Allan Poe bears the mark of John Keats;

i.e., ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ – ‘brow’/’now’:

Take this kiss upon thy brow!
And, in parting from you now
Thus much let me avow
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream

(Edgar Allan Poe: A Dream Within A Dream)

The song below repeats the selfsame rhyme as in the above poetic work by Poe – ‘brow’/’now’:

You trampled on you as you passed
Left the coldest kiss upon my brow
All my doubts and fears are gone at last
I’ve nothing to tell you now

(Bob Dylan: Tell Ol’ Bill)

Bob Dylan messes with the following song lyrics -‘man’/’x’:

John Hardy was a desperate little man
He carried two guns every day
He shot a man on the West Virginia line
And you oughta seen John Hardy getting away

(The Carter Family: John Hardy ~ traditional)

To go with the end-word in the first line of the traditional song above, Dylan, in the verse below, conjures up an off-rhyme to resonate with it – ‘man’/’hand:

John Wesley Harding was a friend to the poor
He travelled with a gun in every hand
All along this countryside, he opened many a door
But he was never known to hurt an honest man

It seems that, unlike John Hardy, John Harding has more than two guns, and more than two hands to hold them in.

See also:
And previously in this series

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