2013年9月30日 星期一

Bob Dylan


Knock, Knock, Knockin’ on Nobel’s Door

Elliot Landy/Redferns — Getty Images
Bob Dylan at a photo session for the "Nashville Skyline" album cover, at Woodstock, N.Y., in 1968.

THIS year’s Nobel Prize in Literature should be announced in early October, and over on the tony British betting site Ladbrokes, Haruki Murakami of Japan, riding the waves of acclaim for his fantastical novel “1Q84,” is the favorite. Other well-known names — Milan Kundera, Philip Roth, Joyce Carol Oates — are bandied about, but Mr. Murakami is unique: among perennial Nobel front-runners, it would be difficult to find a writer more influenced by the popular music and culture born of the social and cultural upheavals of the 1960s.

The Quotable Bob Dylan

Using excerpts from Bob Dylan’s lyrics, Bill Wyman explains why the musician deserves literary praise.

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That fact prompts a pressing question: why isn’t the most vital of the artistic catalysts of those upheavals himself a front-runner for the prize? I’m referring of course to Bob Dylan, a fierce and uncompromising poet whose writing, 50 years on, still crackles with relevance. Mr. Dylan’s work remains utterly lacking in conventionality, moral sleight of hand, pop pabulum or sops to his audience. His lyricism is exquisite; his concerns and subjects are demonstrably timeless; and few poets of any era have seen their work bear more influence.
I’m not the first to suggest it, but it’s time to take the idea seriously. The Nobel Prize in Literature is not awarded posthumously, and Mr. Dylan, now in his 70s, has battled heart disease. Alfred Nobel’s will decreed that the prize should go to a writer with “the most outstanding work in an ideal direction.” Why hasn’t Bob Dylan received one?
Given his medium (songwriting) and profession (rock star), Mr. Dylan may have some strikes against him:
Bob Dylan is not in the mold of the sober creator of “great literature.” He most certainly is not — but consider: in 1997, the literature prize went to Dario Fo, the incorrigible and profane Italian playwright, at whose selection the Roman Catholic Church in particular was amusingly aghast. The vast majority of literature prize recipients are world titans (Mario Vargas Llosa, Günter Grass) or less-well-known but established candidates (Orhan Pamuk of Turkey, the late Seamus Heaney of Ireland), with a relatively obscure recipient every so often (like Elfriede Jelinek of Austria nine years ago), just to keep us all on our toes. It has been too long since the Swedish Academy has honored a mind like Mr. Fo’s.
Mr. Dylan just writes pop lyrics. Actually, Mr. Dylan writes, full stop. Why discount what has been written because of where it ends up? Those who would use the word “pop” as a cudgel or tool of exclusion do so at their peril. Dickens and Twain, Hugo and Shakespeare and Euripides — all soaked up the acclaim of their day. Alfred Hitchcock, whose work at its height met critical condescension, would have some useful thoughts on the subject as well.
Still — his doggerel verses are not literature. In the 1950s in America, rock was a mongrel music, created out of the cultures of the downtrodden — people who built their lives around the blues, folk, gospel or country. Electric guitars got involved, and then some leers and hip thrusts. A new postwar generation of youth took notice, and a cultural revolution was born.
Mr. Dylan added literature. He was first, of course, a singer of folky loquacity, and a serious student of the music’s antediluvian influences: what the critic Greil Marcus calls “the old, weird America.” To this he wedded the yawp of the Beats and the austere intellectualism of the Symbolists. Drugs didn’t hurt, and passing but pungent imagery shows that Mr. Dylan had absorbed the Bible as well.
That disruptive mélange gave us the imagery and power of songs like “Chimes of Freedom” and “Desolation Row,” of “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” and “Visions of Johanna,” among scores of others. He has displayed a mastery of everything from the political jeremiad (“It’s Alright, Ma [I’m Only Bleeding])” to the romantic epic (“Tangled Up in Blue”), and lines like “Money doesn’t talk, it swears” show his way with the lancing aperçu. Mr. Dylan is neither a saint nor a moralist. Epic anger and personal petulance erupt out of his lyrics. But so do tender mercies, extravagant and deep love, self-castigation and what turns out to have been no little wisdom.
Pop lyrics are corrupted by the writer’s desire for popular acclaim. In fact, the record is clear that — whatever ambition lay in his breast — his is a personality, and his art is of a nature, that makes it difficult to chase popular approval or sanction. Mr. Dylan is no Solzhenitsyn, but he is a figure who genuinely challenges the established order.
He was surely the first pop artist to tell his audience things it didn’t want to hear. In 1963, from the dais at a civil rights dinner, he looked with some contempt at the well-dressed crowd and said, “My friends don’t wear suits.” The drama surrounding his lurch into electric music is perhaps overstated; “Like a Rolling Stone” was a huge hit. What’s really radical about the song is its derisive look at his privileged listeners. Mr. Dylan reveled in the comeuppance he saw on the horizon: “You said you’d never compromise” and now “... you stare into the vacuum of his eyes / And ask him do you want to make a deal?”
MR. DYLAN spent the rest of his career rejecting his audience’s expectations. He dropped out of sight at the height of his fame; the cover story was a motorcycle accident, but as his autobiography, “Chronicles: Volume One,” makes clear, he really just wanted to raise his kids in peace, away from the hippies who harried his family. After going electric, he went country. In the late 1970s, as the New Wave era crested, the singer, raised a Jew, declared himself a Christian — and not the warm and fuzzy sort, either. What sort of pop artist works so diligently to systematically undermine his own popularity?
By his own account, Mr. Dylan spent the 1980s in a bit of a fog, but revivified himself in the last years of that decade and went back on the road. Now 25 years into his so-called “Never Ending Tour,” Mr. Dylan continues to perform in relatively modest venues with an unprepossessing backing combo, growling out chestnuts from his vast catalog and new songs as well. His recent albums “Time Out of Mind” (1997), “Love and Theft” (2001) and “Modern Times” (2006) all won best album in the annual poll at “The Village Voice” of the nation’s rock critics — a remarkable achievement for a 1960s holdover in an era of hip-hop and ever-more-effete rock.
If the academy doesn’t recognize Bob Dylan — a bard who embodied the most significant cultural upheaval of the second half of the last century — it will squander its best chance to honor a pop poet. What other songwriter would remotely qualify? Joni Mitchell or Leonard Cohen? Perhaps. Randy Newman? Chuck D? (In truth, the only other pop artist with work as timeless as Mr. Dylan’s is Chuck Berry — but that’s an argument for another day.) With his superstar peers either silent or content to collect the big bucks playing ingratiating stadium shows, this artist, iconoclastic and still vital, demands that we take the product of his muse on his own terms, and refuses to go so gently.

Bill Wyman is a freelance writer on the arts and former arts editor at NPR and Salon.


The Quotable Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan, a fierce and uncompromising poet whose writing, for 50 years and counting, still crackles with relevance, should win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Following these excerpts from songs written by Bob Dylan, I offer my views on why the lyrics deserve literary praise.

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Song: “Chimes of Freedom”
Album: Another Side of Bob Dylan, 1964
Even though a cloud’s white curtain in a far-off corner flashed
An’ the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting
Electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones
Condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting
Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail
For the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale
An’ for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing
(Copyright © 1964 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1992 by Special Rider Music)
This work finds in nature’s most powerful forces a voice for the world’s luckless and persecuted. The words are at once as ringing as those of Emma Lazarus on the Statue of Liberty and as elegant and compressed as Biblical verses. Note the fourth line with just a few words, Mr. Dylan manages effortlessly to limn the two great political tragedies of our time — those of forced displacement and the totalitarian prison.
Song: “Tangled Up In Blue”
Album: Blood on the Tracks, 1974
Bob Dylan in 1965.
Associated Press
Bob Dylan in 1965.
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burnin’ coal
Pourin’ off of every page
Like it was written in my soul
(Copyright © 1974 by Ram’s Horn Music; renewed 2002 by Ram’s Horn Music)
The centerpiece of this sprawling love song is this intimate meeting between two souls who meet, separate, meet and separate again. Their connection over these mysterious verses is palpable; Mr. Dylan’s closing vow to find her again is one of the most joyous and emotional moments in his oeuvre.
Song: “Desolation Row”
Album: Highway 61 Revisited, 1965
Now you would not think to look at him
But he was famous long ago
For playing the electric violin
On Desolation Row
(Copyright © 1965 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1993 by Special Rider Music)
This song is a not-so-funhouse ride through the dark caravan of rock-star fame — “desolation row,” in Mr. Dylan’s words. Literary references, from “Hamlet” to “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” abound. Note how this passage, buried deep in the song, could be used today to describe Mr. Dylan.
Song: “Visions of Johanna”
Album: Blonde On Blonde, 1966
Lights flicker from the opposite loft
In this room the heat pipes just cough
The country music station plays soft
But there’s nothing, really nothing to turn off
Just Louise and her lover so entwined
And these visions of Johanna that conquer my mind
(Copyright © 1966 by Dwarf Music; renewed 1994 by Dwarf Music)
This set of fever-dream verses, a surrealistic tour de force, contain some of Mr. Dylan’s most evocative images. The cinematic settings, sex, and sensory overload have kept the song one of the singer’s densest and most mysterious works—but we never find out who Johanna or Louise is.
Song: “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”
Album: Bringing It All Back Home, 1965
Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Make everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It’s easy to see without looking too far
That not much is really sacred
(Copyright © 1965 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1993 by Special Rider Music)
The title of this unbridled rant suggests that it comes from the mouth of a fallen soldier bitter at his country’s futile efforts in the Vietnam War. Mr. Dylan targets just about everything in American life in the song, from politics to consumerism to the media.
Bill Wyman is a freelance writer on the arts and former arts editor at NPR and Salon.

2013年9月16日 星期一

"Musée des Beaux Arts" (W. H. Auden 1938)文化背景說明 (Wikipedia)

也許七八年前我的朋友問我"Wikipedia v 大英百科"
我說如果有些很專門的項目 而大英也有的話.   譬如說某大文學家生平.  大英可能較為深入
不過Wikipedia 的廣度和逐漸深入以及多語言方式  都是大英無法比的.....

可舉一例: "Musée des Beaux Arts" (French for "Museum of Fine Arts") is a poem written by W.H. Auden in December 1938 while he was staying in Brussels, Belgium with Christopher Isherwood.[1]


2013年9月15日 星期日

The Holy Longing by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

它與梁永安先生在老年之書頁323-24 的翻譯
在分段上和意思上有所不同...... (梁先生的是第2首)

The Holy Longing

Tell a wise person, or else keep silent,
because the mass man will mock it right away.
I praise what is truly alive,
what longs to be burned to death.

In the calm water of the love-nights,
where you were begotten, where you have begotten,
a strange feeling comes over you,
when you see the silent candle burning.

Now you are no longer caught in the obsession with darkness,
and a desire for higher love-making sweeps you upward.

Distance does not make you falter.
Now, arriving in magic, flying,
and finally, insane for the light,
you are the butterfly and you are gone.
And so long as you haven’t experienced this: to die and so to grow,
you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.
  • The Holy Longing
    by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Translated from the German by Robert Bly
  • Poetry at Amazon.com
The Holy Longing
by Goethe

Tell a wise person, or else keep silent,
Because the massman will mock it right away.
I praise what is truly alive,
What longs to be burned to death.

Where you were begotten, where you have begotten,
In the calm water of love nights,
A strange feeling comes over you
When you see the silent candle burning.

Now you are no longer caught
In the obsession with darkness,
And a desire for higher lovemaking
Sweeps you forward.

Distance does not make you falter
Now, arriving in magic, flying
And finally insane for the light,
You are the butterfly, and you are gone.

And so long as you haven't experienced this:
To die, and so to grow,
You are only a troubled guest
On the dark earth.

note. Goethe does not mince his words in the last verse

The Moth

The Whole point of Light
The point along the way
That guides the moth unto it's death --
And life in Thee.
It's wings are spread, it flutters by
In confusion sweet
It turns away in darkest fear
And turns again in fright.
And so without choice it seems
It is drawn unto My Light
Ever closer, ever still, the centre of the flame.
Then all at once a sizzle and a snap
And low --
The moth is but part of the flame
That liveth in it's heart.
Now it flies in silent (k)night
But --still --within this world!

Human Beings

To Be or not to Be?
Therein the answer lies -----
The question is -- Which? --
You choose!
But in choosing, --- think of Being ---
Not just human --- being!

It is useful to ponder the question-- which? -- which gives forth to the Soul the answer presented in the first line.