1. Anonymous12 July, 2012

    Thanks for the enjoyable video.
    I have become interested in Yeats through some pieces of music, one in particular which I really love. How do you react to this musical version after meeting it first time from the print on the page? Follow the link to listen


  2. Thanks. No objection to the attempt: I like the melody, and I always love a cello. I feel the singing might be a bit looser - a bit less respectfully careful - so as to achieve more Yeatsian rapture. I'd like to hear Van Morrison sing it.

    In my Bob Dylan Encyclopedia I suggest a connection between a phrase of Yeats' and a phrase Dylan uses in a song that certainly does invoke rapture: his 'Chimes of Freedom', from 1964 - and perhaps more connection than that:

    Poem by W. B. Yeats (1865-1939) that may have given Dylan a phrase he uses on the 1964 song ‘Chimes of Freedom’, from Another Side of Bob Dylan, and may have given him rather more.

    Dylan speaks in the mid-1960s about behaviour in the face of the certainty of death. In the course of a remarkable interview with Horace Judson, from Time magazine, given at the Royal Albert Hall, London, 9 May 1965, Dylan, wired up with youth’s impatience (at least), and moving among lumpen dullards like some beautiful alien from superior space, can say to the fortysomething reporter:

    ‘I’m saying that you’re going to die, and you’re gonna go off the earth, you’re gonna be dead. Man, it could be, you know, twenty years, it could be tomorrow, any time. So am I. I mean, we’re just gonna be gone. The world’s going to go on without us. All right now. You do your job in the face of that and how seriously you take yourself, you decide for yourself.’

    This is captured in the film Dont Look Back, and transcribed in the book of the film, D.A. PENNEBAKER’s Bob Dylan / Dont Look Back, 1968. (Here the Time reporter is not identified, but he is named as Horace Judson in Peter Marshall’s ‘Hotel Blues’, in the fanzine The Telegraph no.54, Richmond, Surrey, Spring 1996.)

    Although Dylan sounded prepared for death earlier than this (eg. back on 1962’s ‘Let Me Die In My Footsteps’), perhaps it was reading Yeats in 1964 that gave him the conviction he expresses in that interview. Dylan’s ‘starry-eyed and laughing’ echoes Yeats’ ‘open eyed and laughing’ - the one describing the stance of youth, the other the resolve of middle age.

    Yeats’ line is from ‘Vacillation’:

    ‘No longer in Lethean foliage caught / Begin the preparation for your death / And from the fortieth winter by that thought / Test every work of intellect or faith, / And everything that your own hands have wrought, / And call those works extravagance of breath / That are not suited for such men as come / Proud, open eyed and laughing to the tomb.’

    The precociously wise young Dylan of 1964-5 seems to have taken this teaching to heart. Perhaps ‘Vacillation’ both fired up this resolve to do what you do in the knowledge that you’re going to die and gave him the phrase he revises in ‘Chimes Of Freedom’.

    [W.B. Yeats: ‘Vacillation’ taken from The New Natural Death Handbook, ed. Albery, Elliot & Elliot, 1997, p.11.]