The Dylanesque Rhyme Twist: The Immortal ‘I’ (Part V)


By Larry Fyffe

The Dylanesque ‘rhyme twist’ is simply the use by Bob Dylan of the same rhymed words, or variations thereon, in his own song lyrics that are present in the song or poem to which he refers.

For example in the following sourced song – ‘door’/’more’:

Go ‘way from my window
Go ‘way from my door
Go ‘way, way, way from my bedside
And bother me no more
(John Niles: Go ‘Way From My Window)


Below, Dylan employs the same rhyme – ‘door’/’more’:

Go away from my window
Leave at you own chosen speed ….
You say you’re looking for someone
Who’s never weak but always strong
Someone to open each and every door ….
Someone to close his heart for you
Someone who will die for you and more
(Bob Dylan: It Ain’t Me Babe)

It’s always a mistake to dwell too much on the autobiographical aspects of Dylan’s song lyrics; better it be to follow his pursuit of art for art’s sake.

In ‘Tell Ol’ Bill’, Bob borrows his ‘brow/’now’ rhyme from Edgar Poe’s ‘Dream Within A Dream’; Poe’s already taken a bite out of John Keats’ ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’.

Bob Dylan treats himself to some Keats in the following song lyrics -near’/’clear’:

Louise, she’s all right, she’s just near
She delicate and seems like the mirror
But she just makes it all too concise and and too clear
That Johanna’s not here
(Bob Dylan: Visions Of Johanna)

The singer/songwriter messes with the rhyme words that appear in the sourced poem that follows – ‘ear’/’endeared’:

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endeared
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone
(John Keats: Ode On A Grecian Urn)

June Carter sources an Elizabethan book owned by her uncle A.P. Carter of the renowned Carter Family. She co-writes ‘Ring Of Fire’, made famous by husband Johnny Cash.

Bob Dylan covers the song; varies the words a bit:

Love Is a burnin’ thing
And it makes a fiery ring
Born through wild desire
I fell into a ring of fire
I fell into a burnin’ ring Of fire
(Bob Dylan: Ring Of Fire ~ June Carter and Merle Kilgore)


Poet William Blake refers to Elizabethan poetry as well:

My love is like to ice, and I to fire
How comes it then that this her cold so great
Is not dissolved through my so hot desire
But harder grows the more her I entreat?
(Edmund Spenser: My Love Is Like Ice)

And comes up with this:

Bring me my bow of burning gold
Bring me my arrows of desire
Bring me my spear; O clouds unfold
Bring me my chariot of fire!
(William Blake: Jerusalem)

And then there’s this famous poem by Blake:

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
(William Blake: The Tiger)

Bob Dylan joins the party – bakes a simple twist of rhyme – has his Blake, and eats it too:

They walked along by the old canal
A little confused, I remember well
And stopped into a strange hotel
With a neon burnin’ bright
He felt the heat of the night
(Bob Dylan: Simple Twist Of Fate)

The immortal ‘I’ (eye) that dares to frame the lyrics is of course the writer himself.

What else is on the site

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