It is just a matter of knowing how to use tools. Another part is interpreting what the tools are telling you.
This is an interesting poem, but I'm not convinced that Dylan ever looked at it. I had looked at this last year and determined that it was something that I wouldn't feel comfortable putting in my "A Tempest Commonplace" on Pinterest. There are a few reasons. It isn't the only poem to use this type of construction. Birds chirp and chatter; it's what they do, and it's how they are described as behaving all of the time. Writers frequently describe gossips as birds who chirp and chatter. And matter rhymes with chatter—it's a go-to word.
Here are some other examples: Chirps for the Chicks
by Margaret E. Whatham from 1882 includes a poem called "Robin Redbreast". Here's a verse:
'Oh my!' exclaimed the Robin; 'why,
I wonder where they're going to fly!
How they scream, and chirp, and chatter!
Something dreadful is the matter!https://scontent-b-sjc.xx.fbcdn.net/hph ... 4207_n.jpgSouvenir of Modern Minstrelsy: A Collection of Original and Select Poetry by Living Writers
from 1862 includes "The Linnet and the Nightingale" by W.R. Evans. The poem includes this couplet:
Till, as they argued o'er the matter,
The crowd join'd in with chirp and chatter.https://scontent-b-sjc.xx.fbcdn.net/hph ... 0521_n.jpg
Here's another poem with "chirp and chatter" rhymed with "matter" from a 1775 issue of The Town and Country Magazine
: https://scontent-a-sjc.xx.fbcdn.net/hph ... 2514_n.jpg
And another from Punch
from 1884: https://fbcdn-sphotos-a-a.akamaihd.net/ ... 7100_n.jpg
There needs to be something stronger to nail down the chirp and chatter line. There are too many loose threads here. I'm not comfortable with any of these.
You pointed out two examples that impressed you - the folk tales and the lines from Tennessee Williams. In each of those examples there were multiple lines from the sources, and they were longer and much more odd.
In Talk That Talk: An Anthology of African-American Storytelling
the same oral folktale has both "I just came to you because you're friend of mine" and "They said, 'What's the monkey doing out there in the sun? Oh, that monkey done lost his cool. The sun done burned that monkey's brains out.'" That's locked in tight, because there are multiple lines and the lines are so peculiar.
With the Tennessee Williams lines used on Tempest
, again, it was multiple uses from the same play (or versions of the same play) coupled with previous uses of that play, and Dylan's use of the work of Tennessee Williams in general that made me get on board.
I've been reading a lot of Williams lately. The first paragraph of the forward to The Theatre of Tennessee Williams - Volume 4
, which is Williams writing about writer's block, includes, "My back is to the wall and has been to the wall for so long that the pressure of my back on the wall has started to crumble the plaster that covers the bricks and mortar."
When I read that I heard "Well, my back has been to the wall for so long, it seems like it's stuck" in my head. When I thought about the possibility of Dylan doing this I considered that the in the prior verse he is clearly quoting Fitzgerald, and in the verse before that he's quoting Hemingway. So that works for me. On top of that he mentions a Williams play by name in another song on the album, which was recorded the day after he recorded "Summer Days." Then I consider his use of Orpheus Descending
and The Glass Menagerie
in the script of Masked and Anonymous
, as well as the several times that he uses lines from Williams on Tempest
, and that he quotes from A Streetcar Named Desire
in "Things Have Changed" and on and on. The shifting sands start to become more concrete.
I have a big shifting sands file, but I rarely discuss any of it publicly. When it comes to these chirp and chatter examples I think they all belong in the shifting sands file for the time being.