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PostPosted: Tue June 10th, 2014, 01:21 GMT 
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Here's a link to a free PDF of the 1976 essay by Eugene Stelzig.

http://opensuny.org/omp/index.php/miner ... og/book/73

This discussion—written almost four decades ago—of the deep affinities between Dylan’s song poetry and the Romantics,
especially William Blake, is one of the early “scholarly” as opposed to popular appreciations
of Dylan’s art and his oeuvre from his first album up to and including Desire (1976).


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PostPosted: Tue June 10th, 2014, 09:06 GMT 
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Thanks for sharing.


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PostPosted: Tue June 10th, 2014, 09:43 GMT 
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Thanks.

I know some signs are there of Blake's imagery in Dylan's work, but I'm just not sold on this idea that Dylan was/has been sitting around reading William Blake and the romantic poets. Why would an American, 1960s beatnik be reading British Victorian poetry, written by one of it's most eccentric characters i.e. Blake? Makes no sense, Blake is not even that well known by the mainstream British public - why on earth would Dylan be interested? I think Dylan has grabbed a couple of ideas from the well-known poems and just thrown them in there.

It's a novel idea - this Dylan-Blake affinity, but I think it's totally off the mark. I studied William Blake at school - this guy was religious, hallucinating mad man, who's works are so-so, despite people finally recognising his talents 100 years after his death. His artwork is actually far more impressive than his poetry - his writings border on the naive, and are completely lacking in any nuance.


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PostPosted: Tue June 10th, 2014, 10:08 GMT 

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Oneofusmustknow wrote:
Thanks.

I know some signs are there of Blake's imagery in Dylan's work, but I'm just not sold on this idea that Dylan was/has been sitting around reading William Blake and the romantic poets. Why would an American, 1960s beatnik be reading British Victorian poetry, written by one of it's most eccentric characters i.e. Blake? Makes no sense, Blake is not even that well known by the mainstream British public - why on earth would Dylan be interested? I think Dylan has grabbed a couple of ideas from the well-known poems and just thrown them in there.

It's a novel idea - this Dylan-Blake affinity, but I think it's totally off the mark. I studied William Blake at school - this guy was religious, hallucinating mad man, who's works are so-so, despite people finally recognising his talents 100 years after his death. His artwork is actually far more impressive than his poetry - his writings border on the naive, and are completely lacking in any nuance.


How old are you? I was certainly reading Blake in the 60's. So where practically all my friends, and we where not even of english mother tongue.


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PostPosted: Tue June 10th, 2014, 10:10 GMT 

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Oneofusmustknow wrote:
Thanks.

I know some signs are there of Blake's imagery in Dylan's work, but I'm just not sold on this idea that Dylan was/has been sitting around reading William Blake and the romantic poets. Why would an American, 1960s beatnik be reading British Victorian poetry, written by one of it's most eccentric characters i.e. Blake? Makes no sense, Blake is not even that well known by the mainstream British public - why on earth would Dylan be interested? I think Dylan has grabbed a couple of ideas from the well-known poems and just thrown them in there.

It's a novel idea - this Dylan-Blake affinity, but I think it's totally off the mark.



Blake wasn't a Victorian poet (Tennyson, Browning, Arnold etc. were "the Victorians") He was, as you also say, a Romantic poet, though ignored - or scorned by the few who did not ignore - in his lifetime. Romantic poetry and Blake in particular, have always beloved by bohemian movements. Blake was a primary influence on a number of Beat writers, in particular Ginsberg who talked of, quoted and gave copies of Blake to Bob. Ginsberg being Ginsberg this was probably a bit of an onslaught, though an onslaught of Blake is no bad thing as total immersion is about the only way to grasp his vision(s). Ginsberg was a Blake nut and his influence on Dylan was particularly strong in 65. There may be an argument to say that Blake's influence on Dylan was second-hand, via Ginsberg, and no doubt at all it was an influence at the very least filtered through Ginsberg but it is clearly there, one way or another.

There was an honours' dissertation at my University the year ahead of me, so that would have been in 78, majoring on much the same theme. That would be around the same time I saw Renaldo and Clara with Ginsberg performing Blake's "Nurse's Song". I bought this booklet a few weeks ago via Amazon, not had time to read it yet.

You ask why would " Why would an American, 1960s beatnik be reading British .... (Romantic)... poetry, written by one of it's most eccentric characters i.e. Blake? " Well the 1950s beatniks (and as bohemian, creative enclaves around the globe tend to do).

"why on earth would Dylan be interested? " - In a supreme lyric writer whose lyrics were only part of his art form? In an eccentric (this would appeal rather than repel, surely?) In a visionary who Ginsberg kept telling him was the Fount of All? I think he'd be interested for the same reason I am interested in reading Blake and, indeed, in listening to Dylan. Wonderful art that inspires, unique and revolutionary approaches to their chosen fields. Marriage of lyrics to other art forms - visual in Blake's case, music in Bob's - that they should not be separated from. Every reason in the world to be interested!


Last edited by homerthes on Tue June 10th, 2014, 10:14 GMT, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue June 10th, 2014, 10:10 GMT 
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Oneofusmustknow wrote:

...this guy was religious, hallucinating mad man...



And you see no connection with Dylan?


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PostPosted: Tue June 10th, 2014, 10:16 GMT 

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Oneofusmustknow wrote:
Thanks.

I know some signs are there of Blake's imagery in Dylan's work, but I'm just not sold on this idea that Dylan was/has been sitting around reading William Blake and the romantic poets. Why would an American, 1960s beatnik be reading British Victorian poetry, written by one of it's most eccentric characters i.e. Blake? Makes no sense, Blake is not even that well known by the mainstream British public - why on earth would Dylan be interested? I think Dylan has grabbed a couple of ideas from the well-known poems and just thrown them in there.

It's a novel idea - this Dylan-Blake affinity, but I think it's totally off the mark. I studied William Blake at school - this guy was religious, hallucinating mad man, who's works are so-so, despite people finally recognising his talents 100 years after his death. His artwork is actually far more impressive than his poetry - his writings border on the naive, and are completely lacking in any nuance.



I'd sue the school


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PostPosted: Tue June 10th, 2014, 10:32 GMT 
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homerthes wrote:
Oneofusmustknow wrote:
Thanks.

I know some signs are there of Blake's imagery in Dylan's work, but I'm just not sold on this idea that Dylan was/has been sitting around reading William Blake and the romantic poets. Why would an American, 1960s beatnik be reading British Victorian poetry, written by one of it's most eccentric characters i.e. Blake? Makes no sense, Blake is not even that well known by the mainstream British public - why on earth would Dylan be interested? I think Dylan has grabbed a couple of ideas from the well-known poems and just thrown them in there.

It's a novel idea - this Dylan-Blake affinity, but I think it's totally off the mark. I studied William Blake at school - this guy was religious, hallucinating mad man, who's works are so-so, despite people finally recognising his talents 100 years after his death. His artwork is actually far more impressive than his poetry - his writings border on the naive, and are completely lacking in any nuance.



I'd sue the school


Thanks for your insights (in your previous post to this one quoted). I knew what I'd said would be, well, somewhat controversial in writing, because Blake has had a seriously big reappraisal. Sorry, and yes he's very much pre-Victorian!

Dare I say it but...Ginsberg was seriously missing the point with appropriating Blake for his generation of poetry movement - it's utterly strange! It's highly, highly religious stuff - Christian in particular, and I don't really believe that somehow a group of New York Jewish hipsters would pick up the writings of a archetypcal English, Christian, eccentric. It's way too random.

I don't like the way Blake pushes his own, Old Testament beliefs through his poetry, especially his poetry which is more socially orientated. I found his most famous work(s), Songs of Innocence and Experience, actually pretty simplistic in it's world view and message. I found him to write in this very black and white way, shot through with, as I say, Old Testament hellfire (Dylan's gospel era is different - his words were combined with music, and actually I've always thought Slow Train and Shot of Love were pretty nuanced albums). What else can be taken from this work other than the painfully obvious, drab conclusion - youth is preferential to old age, and God's Word in the Bible says it's so.

His artwork's are the exact opposite - a set of extremely interesting works, nuanced, symbolic with elements combining the religious and the occult.

With regards to Dylan use of his style - I see it in one work, the most obvious one - Every Grain of Sand. I think Dylan's bread crumb trail containing symbolist poets etc. is by-and-large and put-on. I always hear it in the way he sings that line with such scorn and condescension - "You're very well read, it's well known".


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PostPosted: Tue June 10th, 2014, 11:02 GMT 

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Oneofusmustknow wrote:


Thanks for your insight. I knew what I'd said would be, well, somewhat controversial in writing, because Blake has had a seriously big reappraisal. Sorry, and yes he's very much pre-Victorian!

I don't like the way Blake pushes his own, Old Testament beliefs through his poetry, especially his poetry which is more socially orientated. I found his most famous work(s), Songs of Innocence and Experience, actually pretty simplistic in it's world view and message. I found him to write in this very black and white way, shot through with, as I say, Old Testament hellfire (Dylan's gospel era is different - his words were combined with music, and actually I've always thought Slow Train and Shot of Love were pretty nuanced albums). What else can be taken from this work other than the painfully obvious, drab conclusion - youth is preferential to old age, and God's Word in the Bible says it's so.

His artwork's are the exact opposite - a set of extremely interesting works, nuanced, symbolic with elements combining the religious and the occult.

With regards to Dylan use of his style - I see it in one work, the most obvious one - Every Grain of Sand. I think Dylan's bread crumb trail containing symbolist poets etc. is by-and-large and put-on. I always hear it in the way he sings that line with such scorn and condescension - "You're very well read, it's well known".



"Old Testament beliefs" - surely Blake's views on God, Satan and Jesus are anything but? Songs of Innocence and Experience are written in a simplistic, child-song format but hold profound meaning for me and especially so especially when read in the light of what was to follow and which became increasingly complex. Even on their own though - to read the Nurse's Song in each volume is surely to encounter anything but poetry lacking in insight or nuance. The very opposite!

The Four Zoas is just about the least simplistic thing I've ever read (and I know I still don't get it.) Between those extremes of simplicity and complexity you have Marriage of Heaven and Hell, America - A Prophecy and so on. Basing a view of Blake on just the Songs of Innocence and Experience (nuanced and moving and profound though I find them) is a bit like basing your view of Dylan on his first album.

When you say Blake has had a "serious, big reappraisal" - do you mean since his lifetime? You make it sound recent, he's been regarded as a Titan of literature since before I was born and sadly I am not young. He was a big deal to the Beatniks which you seem to deny by asking "why would a beatnik bother...". I did say above, though, that primary link in this chain is Ginsberg. An argument that all Blake's influence on Dylan is via him, rather than just introduced by him would be a plausible one.

Dylan made notes in a collection of Verlaine's poetry, so he did read Symbolist poetry - this was in the very early Sixties and he was pretending not to know who Verlaine was. It appears then that he was indeed, very well read - but just didn't want it well known.

We are probably too entrenched in our views to come to an agreement over this If I have over-reacted to you original post, I am sorry but it came across as a bit bitter, to be honest - as though you have a personal grudge against Blake's poetry. As it has always given me so much pleasure I felt I had to "retaliate". I'll leave it here as a) we are on a Bob forum and b) work is calling soon.

I'm glad you got me remembering Blake poems anyway - so, as someone once said, "It's All Good".....


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PostPosted: Tue June 10th, 2014, 11:13 GMT 
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And then there's the Tyger Tyger verse in Roll On John...I think I read somewhere that Lennon was a fan of Blake's poetry. I imagine that was something he had in common with Dylan in the 60s?


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PostPosted: Tue June 10th, 2014, 11:25 GMT 
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Oneofusmustknow wrote:
I always hear it in the way he sings that line with such scorn and condescension - "You're very well read, it's well known".


homerthes wrote:
It appears then that he was indeed, very well read - but just didn't want it well known.


What homer said. I think it's still true to this day, too, that he's much more well read than he lets on. Early in his career, he was busy projecting himself as the original genuis, when those around him often commented he absorbed influences like a sponge.

Image


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PostPosted: Tue June 10th, 2014, 12:21 GMT 
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No, thanks for engaging homerthes, you make some really interesting points and clearly are passionate about both Blake and Dylan in this instance. Sorry if I came across as bitter - unfortunately I'm rather cynical about William Blake's motives, and his works are, well, a concern. His other most famous work, 'Jerusalem' is, without a doubt in my mind, one of the most chilling pieces of writing. A treatise on his world view that's not only bleak, but is also suggestive of much darker designs. I'll give it to Blake - he had the power to move, but for me was rarely in any other direction than disturbing.

Largely, I would say that Dylan has caught many, many people in the net. I don't mean this in any derogatory way, or neither mean that Dylan's work lacks any kind of intellectual insight or thought. However, I would strongly believe it's the mistake of the listener of Dylan's music or the reader of his lyrics, to intellectualize the works of someone who is, ultimately, working in the music industry. Dylan, as I'm sure you're aware, is the biggest purveyor of the classic 'smoke and mirrors' tactic in his works. Again, this isn't to diminish his achievements but I think he's being pretty mischievous - the whole idea of Dylan being this quietly intense intellectual behind-the-scenes, while he presents this cool, detached persona to the public, stands as a bit of a myth.


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PostPosted: Tue June 10th, 2014, 14:32 GMT 

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Oneofusmustknow wrote:
No, thanks for engaging homerthes, you make some really interesting points and clearly are passionate about both Blake and Dylan in this instance. Sorry if I came across as bitter - unfortunately I'm rather cynical about William Blake's motives, and his works are, well, a concern. His other most famous work, 'Jerusalem' is, without a doubt in my mind, one of the most chilling pieces of writing. A treatise on his world view that's not only bleak, but is also suggestive of much darker designs. I'll give it to Blake - he had the power to move, but for me was rarely in any other direction than disturbing.

Largely, I would say that Dylan has caught many, many people in the net. I don't mean this in any derogatory way, or neither mean that Dylan's work lacks any kind of intellectual insight or thought. However, I would strongly believe it's the mistake of the listener of Dylan's music or the reader of his lyrics, to intellectualize the works of someone who is, ultimately, working in the music industry. Dylan, as I'm sure you're aware, is the biggest purveyor of the classic 'smoke and mirrors' tactic in his works. Again, this isn't to diminish his achievements but I think he's being pretty mischievous - the whole idea of Dylan being this quietly intense intellectual behind-the-scenes, while he presents this cool, detached persona to the public, stands as a bit of a myth.



And I return the thanks. Although we are poles apart on Blake, we've come to a pleasant end of our divergence and while I disagreed with the majority in your first post, I just as heartily agree with the majority of this one.

Blake can be very disturbing, I admit. He was by most definitions "disturbed". Visionary and inspired are close to delusional and he crossed the borders of those meanings with frequency. I am not sure we find him disturbing in exactly the same way, and Bob can be very disturbing too, but lets cling to agreement!
I also agree Dylan is mischievous and to over-intellectualize is a danger but the same could be said of Shakespeare, Dostoevsky and Dickens - all popular writers of their time who are part of the fabric of academic studies now. It's a funny old balance one has to maintain when writing or talking about him, (one of the reasons I did two disparate books) - Dylan, of course, dances along that particular tightrope with a glass of wine in one hand, a top hat in the other and a mischievous grin on his face.


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PostPosted: Tue June 10th, 2014, 17:36 GMT 
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Johanna Parker wrote:
Oneofusmustknow wrote:
I always hear it in the way he sings that line with such scorn and condescension - "You're very well read, it's well known".


homerthes wrote:
It appears then that he was indeed, very well read - but just didn't want it well known.


What homer said. I think it's still true to this day, too, that he's much more well read than he lets on. Early in his career, he was busy projecting himself as the original genuis, when those around him often commented he absorbed influences like a sponge.

Image


When he's on the road he spends so much time by himself on the bus, I bet a good portion of it is spent reading all kinds of stuff. Also, listening to music for pleasure. That's what I'd do, anyway.


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PostPosted: Tue June 10th, 2014, 17:39 GMT 
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Reading on your tour bus? :mrgreen:

Yes, I can imagine he does. He probably picks up books all over the place, too. I suppose some of the bestseller self-help things that ended up in Chronicles would be easily available at airports etc.


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PostPosted: Tue June 10th, 2014, 17:42 GMT 
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Ha! Yes!

I forget where I read it but somewhere it was reported that he visits record stores from time-to-time when he travels. One employee at a store recognized him so he locked the doors allowing Bob to shop in peace. I think it was in the MidWest somewhere.


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PostPosted: Tue June 10th, 2014, 21:27 GMT 
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BostonAreaBobFan wrote:

When he's on the road he spends so much time by himself on the bus


not alone. probably. I think ---- ---- is on the bus at all times, sitting in the doorway, wearing a ten gallon hat and black rain boots, two drawn pistols, and a stick-O-dynamite.


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