Bob Dylan and A Spoonful Of Fire: Take What You Have Gathered From Coincidence (Part III)

 by Larry Fyffe

Bob Dylan’s oft down in the basement mixing up the musical medicine in a big pot. He notes that a good medecine man always attempts to balance the elements of  earth, air, fire, and water. Could be just a coincidence, but it appears that Dylan tosses some Elizabethan poetry into the cauldron:

My love is like ice, and I to fire

How comes it then that this her cold so great

Is not dissolved through my so hot desire

But the harder grows the more I her entreat?

(Edmund Spenser: My Love Is Like Ice And I To Fire)

Spenser be a distant relative of Lady Diana Spencer.

For those who like a more modern taste, Dylan adds to the boiling pot a smidgen of poetry by American Robert Frost:

Some say the world will end in fire

Some say in ice

For what I've tasted of desire

I hold with those who favour fire

(Robert Frost: Fire And Ice)

The singer/songwriter pours himself a cup of the hot soup for a taste test:

My love she speaks of silence

Without ideals of violence

She doesn't have to say she's faithful

Yet she's true like ice, like fire

(Bob Dylan: Love Minus Zero)

To make a soup of his own, a friend of Bob Dylan uses an Elizabethan recipe that wife June gets from ‘Doc’ Carter’s library:

Love is a burning thing

And it's makes a fiery ring

Bound by wild desire

I fell into a ring of fire

(Johnny Cash: Ring Of Fire)

Dylan tries another cup of his own concoction:

You're the one that I admire

Every time we meet together

My soul feels like it's on fire

Nothing matters to me

And there's nothing that I desire

'Cept you, yeah, you

(Bob Dylan: ‘Cept You)

 He’s throws in a spoonful of spicy poetry from preRomantic William Blake:

Bring me my bow of burning gold

Bring me my arrows of desire

Bring me my spear; O, let the clouds unfold

Bring me my chariots of fire

(William Blake: Jerusalem)

Dylan wonders if it’s safe to give some of the medicine to his son:

He's young and on fire

Full of hope and desire

In a world that's been raped and defiled

If I fall along the way

And can't see another day

Lord, protect my child

(Bob Dylan: Lord Protect My Child)

That Bob Dylan comments on Frost, Blake, Cash and the Carter Family elsewhere diminishes the possibility of the composition of his lyrical soup be mere coincidence. 

Apparently, William Blake stirs up his own broth from bits of the Holy Bible:

And it came to pass, as they went on, and talked

That, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire

And horses of fire

And parted them both asunder

And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven

(II Kings 2:11)

You might also enjoy

Take what you have gathered from coincedence Part I (and more Duncan and Jimmy)

Take what you have gathered from coincedence Part II



  1. Sleep after toil, port after stormy seas
    Èase after war, death after life
    Does greatly please
    (Edmund Spenser: The Faerie Queene)

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