Pushing Through A Hard Rain: Classification Of Bob Dylan As A Poet Through His Song "A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall"

1347 words - 5 pages

Pushing Through A Hard RainIn Christopher Ricks' Dylan's Visions of Sin chapter titled Songs, Poems, Rhymes (11-48), he claims that the main difference between poetry and lyrics is punctuation. In a poem you can see differences in capitalization or you can see the end approaching as you read; however, in a song you would not be able to tell how much longer it will go and you rely on the voice as the punctuation. Although there is a distinct difference between a poem and a song by virtue of medium, Ricks does believe that Dylan's lyrics qualify as poetry by virtue of quality. The rhymes and metaphors used are of excellence that qualifies the lyrics as poetry. Robert Christgau, a critic who wrote "Rock lyrics Are Poetry (Maybe)"(62-63), believes that only some exceptions can qualify as poetry by virtue of quality, and none by virtue of medium. Christgau believes that "Dylan's obsession with rhyme"(63) leads him to make bad rhymes that take away from the quality of the work. He stands firmly that Dylan is a songwriter and not a poet. I disagree. Based on the quality of the lyrics, Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" functions as great poetry.Dylan's lyrics for "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" qualify as great poetry due to the powerful use of imagery that evokes emotion. Western Wind by David Mason and John Frederick Nims explains the traits of good poetry. The first chapter is about imagery and it explains that concrete images are much more effective then abstract images. "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" uses concrete imagery effectively to give the poem a dark and depressing tone. Dylan abstains from using much rhyme in this song to avoid the limitations it may set on word choice. The diction in Dylan's line, "black branch with blood that kept drippin' " (14), is effective because you can see the contrast of the black branch dripping with red blood to give the reader an ominous feeling. If the line were to say "bloody branch" a majority of the effect would be lost without the precise details and the signature tone of Dylan's lines. In Western Wind, David Mason and John Frederick Nims write that "operating with imagery is more then a preference of the mind; it is an actual necessity" (11). Poems do not tell you how to feel; they show you with their specific imagery. Neils Bohr is quoted in Western Wind as saying, "the poet, too is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images" (22). Dylan creates images of a cold dark world with "guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children" (18). Ricks describes it as "a scouring vision of hell. Hell on earth" (342). I can hear the roar and feel myself being pulled down by the current with water swirling around me with the "roar of a wave that could drown the whole world" (24). The dream of many young children, especially young girls, is to have her very own pony; "a young child beside a dead pony" (34) not only brings up the thought of crushed dreams but also a traumatic experience...

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