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August 23, 2008


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applying this kind of analysis to dylan's work doesn't hold much appeal for me. but what do i know? "i should have been a pair of ragged claws" etc.

Many who admire Dylan were disappointed in Ricks's book. As you noted--with characteristic insight--Ricks's linguistic universe is very distant from Dylan's. This is crucial because he ends up imposing a language that doesn't fit and that ends up imposing an entire critical apparatus on Dylan's work that, to me at least, doesn't completely work. It is, of course, always a pleasure to see Ricks's erudition and passion. Personally, I find his close readings of poets far more convincing.

A cautionary note: I do provide a quite different interpretation of Dylan's lyrics in the book I'm writing, and therefore it's possible my mind wasn't generous or flexible enough to accept Ricks's.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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Ringfinger was nervous
Pinky terrified
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.



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