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Thread: Bob Dylan's 73rd Birthday

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    Mr RonPrice Ron Price's Avatar
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    Bob Dylan's 73rd Birthday

    Bob Dylan(born Robert Allen Zimmerman, May 24, 1941) is an American musician, singer-songwriter, artist, and writer. He has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for more than five decades. Since my retirement from FT, PT and most volunteer work in the years 1999 to 2005, I have reinvented myself as a writer and author, poet and publisher, reader and scholar, editor and researcher, online blogger and journalist. I have written many pieces of prose-poetry in which Dylan has come into the content. I post that content below.-Ron Price, George Town, Tasmania
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    BOB DYLAN: THE BLOODLESS REVOLUTION

    Part 1:

    When Bob Zimmerman, alias Bob Dylan, came out of obscurity in the late 1950s and made his debut in New York on 4 November 1961, a folk music revival was in the process of being launched. This revival was celebrated at the Newport Folk Festival founded in 1959, the year I joined the Baha’i Faith. Folk music and the political Left had a symbiotic relationship that became the paradigm for folk singers between April 1962 and 1965. Between late 1964, when I was a student in an honors history and philosophy course, and the summer of 1966, while I was selling ice-cream for the Good Humor Company, Dylan created a body of work that remains unique. Drawing on folk, blues, country, R&B, rock'n'roll, gospel, British beat, symbolist, modernist and Beat poetry, surrealism and Dada, advertising jargon and social commentary, Fellini and Mad magazine, he forged a coherent and original artistic voice and vision. The beauty of these albums retains the power to shock and console."(1)

    But Bob Dylan was a poet and not a spokesperson or, as America’s beat poet laureate Allen Ginsberg described him, “a column of air, a single breath, a shaman.”(2) -Ron Price with thanks to (1) Mike Marqusee(2005), "Wicked Messenger: Bob Dylan and the 1960s", Seven Stories Press; and (2)SBS TV, “No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, Episodes 1 and 2,” November 2005 and repeated October 2008.

    Part 2:

    As Ron Price, alias Bahá’í pioneer, came out of obscurity in the late 1950s and made his debut as a member of the Baha’i Faith circa 12 October 1959, and then as a pioneer in the Canadian Bahá’í community circa 20 August 1962, he continued to play baseball, hockey and football, focus his energies on his schoolwork and control his embryonic erotic enthusiasms by means of these sports and study as well as the socializing influences of the secular and religious ethos of his cultural milieux.

    The Baha’i community’s Ten Year Crusade had been launched in 1953 when Ron's mother joined this Faith which claimed to be the newest, the latest, of the Abrahamic religions. During this ten year period, the Baha'i community celebrated a series of events which Ron took part in as an adolescent and young adult from 1959 to 1963. For a short period Ron toyed with the Left while studying history and philosophy at university in Canada but, by 1965 he was, like Dylan, fully apolitical, poetically inclined and had begun his life on his own "like a rolling stone,” with “no direction” toward his “home.” –Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 26 October 2008.

    Part 3:

    Yes, as Ginsberg had said, it was
    the first bloodless revolution, well,
    partly, Allen, partly, as the tragedy
    of the human condition exposed in
    an unprecedented and tempestuous
    slough of despond, with forecasts of
    doom and battles with phantoms of
    a wrongly informed imagination as
    Dylan had poeticized so brilliantly.

    His days, my days, those days, back
    then passed so swiftly, as the twinkle
    of a star. But, you made your mark,
    Bob, at this crucial turning point in
    history, a juncture the like of which
    shall never return and which we can
    scarcely appreciate, fully understand,
    even now, beyond our reach perhaps
    for several generations, as a unique
    victory was won, a victory still not
    known by the human race, eh Bob?

    Ron Price
    26/10/'08 to 25/5/'14.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    JOAN BAEZ AND ME

    More than three years ago a film was released on the life of Joan Baez(1941- ). How Sweet the Sound came to television today in Tasmania.1 Baez rose to fame in 1959 when I was 15, and she only 19. I was a person of fame, too, but only in a little town in Ontario, and nowhere else. Her first major performance was at the Newport Folk Festival, the same year I joined the Baha’i Faith. Baez was a Quaker and a pacifist. I am not a pacifist and our forms of social activism are very different. I have always loved her singing from her first albums which appeared in 1960, 1961, and 1962 when I was finishing high school.

    In 1962, when I began my travelling-pioneering life for the Canadian Baha’i community, Baez had just begun her 2 year romance with Bob Dylan. I had no idea at the time immersed, as I was, in nine grade 13 subjects and with a necessary four hours per night homework. The year 1962 also saw my final baseball and ice-hockey seasons with the Burlington all-stars in the juvenile league. I was involved in a new Baha’i community, and was kept busy emotionally in keeping a lid on my libido. -Ron Price with thanks to 1ABC1 TV, 3:00 to 4:30 p.m., 7/4/’13.

    We have a lot in common, Joan,
    you and I, as we head into that
    final decade of late adulthood.1

    We have an autobiographical
    bias to our writing……In 1987
    you said: “I was made to live
    alone.”2 As the years went on
    I felt, increasingly, the same.

    We both had a public life for
    half a century…..and you are
    still going, Joan, while I have
    retired into a writing life and
    little public activity……few of
    endless meetings, wall-to-wall
    people, and none of the social
    protest-popularity profile for
    which you will go down in history.

    I wish you well, Joan, as evening
    continues to the last syllable of
    our recorded time on this plain,
    and we go into a hole for those
    who sing and speak no more:
    what say you, Joan, of the life
    beyond, that new-Undiscovered
    Country from which no one returns.

    1 Baez is 73 and I am 70. Some developmental psychologists call the years from 70 to 80, the last decade of late adulthood.
    2 Baez’s second autobiography was entitled: And a Voice to Sing With. Mine is entitled Pioneering Over Five Epochs.

    Ron Price
    7/4/’13 to 25/5/'14.
    -----------------------------------------------
    BOB MARLEY
    ......right behind bob dylan

    Bob Marley(1945-1981), Jamaican singer, songwriter and musician, started his connection with the music business in 1959. He made a first attempt at solo singing and recorded his first two singles in 1962. Jamaica became an independent island nation in the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean that same year, on 6 August 1962. In 1959 I was 15 and joined the Baha’i Faith. In the same month of 1962 I began my pioneering-travelling life for the Canadian Baha’i community.

    Marley is the only third-world performer to be elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1999, the year I retired after 32 years as a teacher, and 18 as a student, the BBC named his “One Love” the “Song of the Millennium”. The same year Time declared his 1977 Exodus the “Best Album of the Twentieth Century.” Voted the third-greatest songwriter of all time in a 2001 BBC poll, behind Bob Dylan and John Lennon, Marley has sold an estimated 50 million records worldwide.-Ron Price with thanks to Wikipedia, 30 October 2011.

    By the time you let your hair grow
    and were into Rastafarianism I was
    teaching high school in Australia. By
    the autumn of 1976, after a series of
    critically acclaimed albums & concert
    tours, you were on your way to being
    a global star—and I was on my way to
    a career in many of Australia's colleges.

    You first attained fame in America not
    among US blacks but among the white
    college students to whom you were and
    remain famous as much the marijuana
    mascot as one of the famous musicians.

    When you died in ‘81 you had become a
    symbol and spokesman of anti-colonial
    aspiration for the world’s oppressed,1 &
    in ’81 I was working in a tin mine on the
    west coast of Tasmania with decades of
    life to live as a quiet commentator on the
    Baha’i Faith and, in my retirement, on the
    Internet & among cyberspace’s hundreds
    of millions of websites & billions of users.

    1 Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, The Bob Marley Story, 9 April 2009, The New York Review of Books.
    Ron Price
    30/10/'11 to 25/5/'14.
    -------------------------------------------------------------
    DYLAN: 1962 TO 2011

    Sean Wilentz, a professor of history at Princeton, has done some considerable digging to write his book, Bob Dylan in America.1 He has constructed a system of underground tunnels connecting Dylan’s music---his thirty-four studio albums alone, from 1962’s self-titled debut to his 2010 characteristically odd Christmas in the Heart---to a vast range of movements and individuals in American history and culture. Something of Wilentz’s method is suggested by his epigraph, which is taken from Walt Whitman’s “When I Read the Book”: “Only a few hints—a few diffused, faint clues and indirections…” Wilentz sees Dylan’s work as a constellation of hints and clues, and he follows-up on them with an obsessive meticulousness.-Ron Price with thanks to 1Giles Harvey, “Bob Dylan After the Fall,” New York Review of Books, 25 November 2010.

    You first heard that Anthology in 1959(1)
    when you were a college dropout and
    loitering in the coffee houses around the
    University of Minnesota and I had joined
    the Baha’i Faith up in Ontario. That was
    your first true map of a republic that was
    still a hunch. You would not leave it as you
    found it & you grew more frustrated with
    what you came to see as pious sloganeering
    & doctrinaire leftist politics of the folk milieu.

    You began writing a kind of visionary nonsense
    verse, in which the rough, ribald, lawless America
    of the country’s traditional folk music collided with
    a surreal ensemble of characters from Biblical history,
    literature, legend……..and many other places besides.

    Those 60s songs were less a place of identifiable
    historical record than a superabundant nightmare
    from which you were trying, without much success,
    to awake. At moments, to be sure, the contours of
    your rancorous social comment seemed to appear
    within a rich tapestry of surreal bewildering lyrics.

    They possessed an overriding mood: a combination
    of dread, confinement, and the age's nihilistic glee.
    Your career began with a motorcycle accident on
    29 July 1966, as I was selling ice-cream and getting
    ready to go to teachers’ college. As my own lows were
    matched by your eloquent bitterness, you were trapped
    inside the aspic of your own sixties legend,2 and at the
    time I moved on from Baffin Island to far-off Tasmania.

    1 Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music (1952), the legendary three double-LP compilation of old-time vernacular songs that in the late Fifties and early Sixties served as the cornerstone of the folk music revival.
    2 Giles Harvey, “Bob Dylan After the Fall,” New York Review of Books, 25 November 2010.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    DYLAN AND ME IN ‘62

    As early as 1962, the year my pioneering and travelling for the Canadian Bahá’í community began, Bob Dylan was reflecting on the theme of the rejected prophet. He wrote: “To preach of peace and brotherhood, / Oh, what might be the cost! / A man he did it long ago / And they hung him on a cross. / Long ago, far away; / These things don't happen / No more, nowadays.”(1)

    This allusion to Jesus in this 1962 reflection, in one of the first years of Dylan’s public fame, is followed by a rehearsal of various social evils that make the call for peace and brotherhood necessary as far as Dylan was concerned back then in the roaring sixties. Dylan refers to slavery, war, poverty and few would challenge the need to rid the world of such things--then or now. But like many good stories, this song ends with an unexpected twist with the words: “And to talk of peace and brotherhood, / Oh, what might be the cost! / A man he did it long ago / And they hung him on a cross. / Long ago, far away; / Things like that don't happen / No more, nowadays, do they?”

    This is, of course, a loaded rhetorical question. One would not think that addressing such noble themes would be dangerous. Dylan has already referred to the supreme example of a prophet/preacher who paid the ultimate price. What would prevent a latter day prophet from experiencing a similar fate? –Ron Price with thanks to (1)Bob Dylan, "Long Ago, Far Away"; recorded in 1962 but never released. This information, these ideas. was/were found in Michael J. Gilmour, “They Refused Jesus Too: A Biblical Paradigm in the Writing of Bob Dylan,” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, Volume 1, Spring 2002.

    Indeed, Michael, indeed!
    And two latter-day man-
    gods did experience very
    similar fates not long ago
    and not that far away and
    in 1962 I began my life of
    telling about their lives but
    few took serious interest in
    this story: for the Return of
    Jesus is very very complex!

    You asked, Bob, “Things like
    that don't happen no more....
    nowadays, do they?” But the
    answer is a resounding “yes!”(1)

    (1) Dylan has a complex religious identity which has chopped-and-changed many times since the 1950s. In 1997 in Newsweek he is quoted as saying: "Here's the thing with me and the religious thing. This is the flat-out truth: I find the religiosity and philosophy in the music. I don't find it anywhere else. Songs like "Let Me Rest on a Peaceful Mountain" or "I Saw the Light"—that's my religion. I don't adhere to rabbis, preachers, evangelists, all of that. I've learned more from the songs than I've learned from any of this kind of entity. The songs are my lexicon. I believe the songs." In an interview published in The New York Times on September 28, 1997, journalist Jon Pareles reported that "Dylan says he now subscribes to no organized religion."

    Dylan has been a supporter of the Chabad Lubavitch movement in the last 20 years, and has privately participated in Jewish religious events, including the Bar Mitzvahs of his sons and attending Hadar Hatorah, a Chabad Lubavitch yeshiva. In September 1989 and September 1991, he appeared on the Chabad telethon. Dylan reportedly visits Chabad synagogues; on Yom Kippur in 2007 he attended Congregation Beth Tefillah, in Atlanta, Georgia, where he was called to the Torah for the sixth aliyah.

    Ron Price
    19/3/'10 to 25/5/'14.

    PS....this is the 3rd and final edition of the above prose-poem
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    IT’S THE MUSIC THAT MATTERS

    Part 1:

    As the decades have rolled by I have come to view the politics of Bob Dylan back in his heyday of the sixties as closer to my politics back in the sixties than at first I had imagined. Recent books on Dylan, like Chimes of Freedom: The Politics of Bob Dylan’s Art by Mike Marqusee, 2003; Ron Jacob’s essay “The Politics of Bob Dylan,” Counterpunch, October 18th 2003, and a 3 ˝ hour television documentary “No Direction Home: Bob Dylan,” screened on SBS TV, 10:00-11:50 p.m. November 8th and 15th 2005 all support the view that Dylan was always non-partisan.

    He was nobody’s spokesman. He wrote songs in order to play, in order to work out his feelings and thoughts. He wanted to be recognized and he wanted to influence. He wrote a content and in a style that was unique and he wrote a great deal. This had always been my aim, but music was not my main means of influence. Over the years other forms of influence came my way like gifts from some mysterious dispensation of Providence.

    Part 2:

    Dylan’s approach to politics was similar to the Baha’i non-partisan approach. In the same way that the Baha’i political position has been one in which issues are dealt with at the level of political theory and macro-systems rather than within the field of practical politics and political parties; in the same way that the Baha’i deals with issues by means of basic ideas and concepts not through existing partisan political approaches, Dylan places issues in the context of systems. The approach is, it seems to me, a more intellectual and philosophical one, but one which possesses its own particular punch or bite. Of course, there are differences between Dylan’s politics and my Baha’i politics both now and back in the sixties.

    Some critics in recent years have dissented from the view of Dylan as a visionary figure in popular music. Nik Cohn, in one of his books, objected to the view of Dylan as visionary: "I can't take the vision of Dylan as seer, as teenage messiah, as everything else he's been worshiped as. The way I see him, he's a minor talent with a major gift for self-hype." Australian critic Jack Marx credited Dylan with changing the persona of the rock star: "What cannot be disputed is that Dylan invented the arrogant, faux-cerebral posturing that has been the dominant style in rock since, with everyone from Mick Jagger to Eminem educating themselves from the Dylan handbook."(1) -Ron Price with thanks to (1)Jack Marx, "Tangled Up In Blah", The Australian. Retrieved October 5, 2008, and Pioneering Over Four Epochs, November 9th, 2005.

    There was a symbiosis back then
    between folk-singers and the Left.
    The connection was invented just
    as my pioneering life began in ’62,
    and it was the ruling paradigm for
    many a moon. It was taking its 1st
    form in ’59 at that first Newport
    Folk Festival—the year I joined the
    Baha’i Faith. I was still into baseball,
    hockey and schoolwork in those early
    days living in suburbia in my mid-teens
    without a girlfriend and a cosmology
    just scarcely formed, and embryonic.

    It would be thirty years, a hiatus
    of more than three decades, before
    the process of writing my feelings
    and thoughts, wanting to influence,
    could really take off. And after more
    setbacks than you can imagine, after
    realizing that my expectations were
    simply unrealistic, after moving from
    one end of the earth to another, I kept
    singing, as Dylan kept singing. But my
    triumphs and those of the Cause I had
    been associated with, now, for over 50
    years, had not been Dylan’s....We each
    had our music, our message and it was
    this music that mattered: he & we & I
    have been saying this again and again
    all those years since back in the '50s.1

    1 Peter Stone Brown, http://www.peterstonebrown.com

    Ron Price
    9/11/'05 to 25/5/'14.
    ------------------------------------------------
    THE MAELSTROM

    James Brown, singer, songwriter, bandleader and commonly referred to as The Godfather of Soul, began his career in 1953. Brown became to rhythm and dance music what Bob Dylan became to lyrics. The year 1953 was the very year my mother joined the Baha’i Faith; she was one of the first 600 Baha'is in Canada. it was the beginning of this Faith’s famous Ten Year Crusade.

    In the late 1950s and early 1960s, when Brown rose to fame, I joined the Baha’i Faith and began pioneering for the Canadian Baha’i community. At the time in what was the beginning, the first decade, of rock-‘n-roll, I was not into hip-hop, funk, popular African music or afro-beat as it was sometimes called. I listened to the top-40 on my little blue radio in my little bedroom in my little house in the little town of Burlington Ontario with its population, then, of about 5000—in what was then quite a little world between my ears. I played baseball and hockey, was a good student, was an ordinarily ordinary, humanly human, kid with aspirations to join “the show,” as the major-leagues in baseball came to be called in future years.

    I was so busy with my life, my education, my career, the permutations and combinations of my own interests and perspectives that this one, quite significant, element of popular culture just never entered my sensory emporium—until I saw this TV program on Boxing Day 2008.1—Ron Price with thanks to 1"As It Happened,” SBS TV, 26 December 2008, 8:30-9:30 p.m.

    I should have got on board
    your “Night Train” in 1962
    when I, too, began my ride,
    my pioneering----travelling
    or with your LP Live at the
    Apollo in ’63 when the last
    stage of institutionalization
    of that--charismatic Force—
    was finally completed, the
    significance of which we
    hardly appreciated then or
    even now for that matter.

    But you were never in my life,
    James.....as an item of popular
    culture which insinuates itself
    into one’s very psyche by its
    pervasiveness--thrown up, as
    popular culture usually is now,
    from that lighted chirping box
    which spews info-entertainment,
    and education to millions-billions
    in a process of planetization, what
    one could call one worldism, yes....

    I watched tonight how you played
    your role from April to June 1967
    in keeping those flames of racial
    violence low after the assassination
    of Martin Luther King and Kennedy.

    I missed that story as I was heading,
    at the time, into the maelstrom of a
    schizo-affective disorder that threw
    me into the flames of a tempest that
    I have not now fully recovered from.

    Ron Price
    27/12/'08 to 25/5/'14.
    --------------------------------------------------------
    EMERGING OUT OF OBSCURITY
    SIXTY YEARS: 1953-2013

    In my years before puberty(1943-1956), I hardly remember any musical activity in my life, although both my parents played the piano and sang in choirs; something musical must have permeated my psycho-emotional skin. The world of popular music gradually came into my life in the years 1953-1959, and this world of sound continued to influence me for some two decades until 1973-79. This popular music had a strong autobiographical, confessional, personal, emotional, introspective quality. I found it in folk, folk-rock and the pop strands. A whole generation of popular music was found here; it was the generation I listened to as an adolescent and as a young adult. Some of it attained a level of universality which helped listeners--like me--identify with its ideas and sentiments.

    Artists like: Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, David Crobsy, Steven Stills, Graham Nash, Neil Young, James Taylor, Tom Rush, Phil Ochs and Carly Simon, among a host of others--provided an influence, quite unconsciously, on my artistic sensibilities, my poetry and my writing that emerged later and slowly in the next dozen years, 1980-1992. Those four decades, 1953-1992, provided a base for a poetic-fertilization, a poetic-crystallization that resulted in the years that followed, 1992 to 2014. -Ron Price with thanks to “Walk On By: The Story of Popular Song-After the Gold Rush,” ABC TV, 9:35-10:25 p.m., January 13th, 2005.

    After sixty years of music
    one can’t help but wonder
    what actually produced
    this prolific output of poetry,
    this wanting to see the world
    and see it better than ever,
    concentrating all that I have
    said and done since birth,
    all grist for a tumultuous mill,
    mildly confessional, nothing
    like Lowell, Plath, Sexton
    and others from those decades
    when confessionalism was all
    the rage in poetry and music
    and seemed to insinuate itself
    into my words as they arose
    with all their autobiographical
    candor and an unprecedented
    personal aesthetic that takes
    emotion and personality,
    makes and escapes, argues
    and embraces and tries to tie
    self and world in one wide
    embrace of past, present and
    future in a oneness with life.

    Ron Price
    14/1/'05 to 25/5/'14.
    ----------------------------------------------------
    Last edited by Ron Price; 05-25-2014 at 06:44 AM. Reason: To add some words
    Ron Price is a Canadian who has been living in Australia for 42 years(in 2013). He is married to a Tasmanian and has been for 37 years after 8 years in a first marriage. At the age of 69 he now spends most of his time as an author and writer, poet and publisher. editor and researcher, online blogger, essayist, journalist and engaging in independent scholarship. He has been associated with the Baha'i Faith for 60 years and a member for 53 years.cool:

  2. #2
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Thank you for bringing back the memories. Like yourself I am 70 and Dylan, Baez and Marley were like mothers milk for me in those early formative years. More so, perhaps Marley as I lived in Jamaica as my base for a long time when I was working overseas. "No Woman, No Cry" I still find emotional.

    "The last decade of late adulthood" 70-80?
    We will see. If Mick Jagger ( also our age) is still rocking and rolling, so will I be.
    Best regards
    M.

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    Mr RonPrice Ron Price's Avatar
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    Thanks, Manichaean, for your response. You been a busy little beaver at this site with your nearly 2000 posts!! The term "late adulthood" is used by some human development psychologists to label the years from 60 to 80 in the life-span. I like that model because the stage of "old-age" does not begin until the age of 80---giving me another decade......I wish you well whatever model of human development you use, and however long you last on this mortal coil.-Ron
    Ron Price is a Canadian who has been living in Australia for 42 years(in 2013). He is married to a Tasmanian and has been for 37 years after 8 years in a first marriage. At the age of 69 he now spends most of his time as an author and writer, poet and publisher. editor and researcher, online blogger, essayist, journalist and engaging in independent scholarship. He has been associated with the Baha'i Faith for 60 years and a member for 53 years.cool:

  4. #4
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Dear Ron
    Some thoughts on the next ten years:
    1. If it works, use it.
    2. Death is merely an inconvenience.
    3. Mobilise your imagination and talents to commit the oldest sins, in the most original ways.
    Here's looking at you young un.
    Best regards
    M.

  5. #5
    Mr RonPrice Ron Price's Avatar
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    My dear M! Some of imagination's mobilisation.-Ron

    POETRY OF ABUNDANCE

    Part 1:

    Back in April 1988, as I was finishing my first term in my first year as a lecturer in a technical and further education college in Perth Western Australia, and as I was beginning the first years of middle-age, Helen Vendler wrote a review in The New York Review of Books. It was a review of a new book of poems, The Haw Lantern, by Seamus Heaney.(1) Vendler(1933- ) was and is a leading American poetry critic. Heaney(1939-) was and is an Irish poet, playwright, translator, lecturer and recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature.

    “Here are thirty-two new poems by Seamus Heaney,”Vendler began, “from this poet of abundance who is undergoing in middle age the experience of natural loss. As the earth loses for him the mass and gravity of familiar presences—parents and friends taken by death—desiccation and weightlessness threaten the former fullness of the sensual life.” Heaney, twenty-five years later and as I write this reflective piece of prose-poetry, is now 74. More people in his life have been “taken by death.” More of that “fullness of the sensual life” has been taken by life.The academic John Sutherland, among others, see Heaney as "the greatest poet of our age".

    By my mid-forties I was no “poet of abundance.” That delightful poetic ride, which was Heaney’s gift, was waiting for me as I got into my fifties. Here I am now, nearly 70, and that poetic ride feels like it has only begun after two decades of travelling many a mile with many booklets of poetry posted along the way, thousands of poems, millions of words and—as the 21st century advanced incrementally---millions of readers in cyberspace’s vast landscape.

    Part 2:

    That moment of emptiness, to which Vendler refers in the life of Seamus Heaney, is also found in other poets. Vendler attempts to describe the human experienceof aging by quoting other poets. “Already I take up less emotional space / Than a snowdrop,” James Merrill(1926-1995) wrote at such a point in his own evolution.Merrill wasan American poet whose awards have included the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1977.

    Robert Lowell’s grim poetic engine, churning powerfully on through the late sonnets, did not quite admit the chill of such a moment until Day by Day:

    We are things thrown in the air alive in flight…
    our rust the color of the chameleon.

    It is very difficult for poets of brick and mortar solidity, like Robert Lowell(1917-1977), or of rooted heaviness, like Heaney, to become light, airy, desiccated. In their new style they cannot abandon their former selves. “I balanced all, brought all to mind,” said W. B. Yeats, using a scale to weigh years behind and years to come. Yeats(1865-1939)was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature.

    “The struggle to be one’s old self and one’s new self together is the struggle of poetry itself,” Vendler goes on, and“it must accumulate new layers rather than discard old ones.Heaney must thus continue to be a poet rich in tactile language, while expressing emptiness, absence, distance. The Haw Lantern, poised between these contradictory imperatives of adult life, is almost penitentially faithful to each, determined to forsake neither.”

    Part 3:

    The great systems of dogma: patriotic or ethical, religious or philosophical---are often, but not always, abandonedby poets as they come into their late middle age and late adulthood, to say nothing of old-age, the years after 80 according to one model of the lifespan used by psychologists of human development. Heaney’s own dogmas, says Vendler, were “abandoned in favour of a ceaseless psychic sorting,” and he took little joy in sorting.

    Heaney has several times quoted Mandelstam’s3 “notion that poetry—and art in general—is addressed to…’The reader in posterity:’

    “It is not directed exploitatively towards its immediate audience—although of course it does not set out to disdain the immediate audience either. It is directed towards the new perception which it is its function to create.2-Ron Price with thanks to 1Helen Vendler, Second Thoughts, The New York Review of Books, 28/4/’88;2Seamus Heaney, comments during a symposium on art and politics at North-eastern University, 1986, printed in Working Papers in Irish Studies, issued by North-eastern University, 1986, p. 33; and 3Osip Mandelstam(1891-1938) was a Russian poet and essayist.

    So much lies ahead, after
    I am gone, long after I am
    gone…for my epigone1 to
    whom I direct the required
    new perceptions which have
    been slowly coming into my
    mind as I try to balanceall,
    using a scale to weigh years
    behind me & years to come.

    My engine is not so grim as
    Robert’s, churning as it did
    in the midst of his bipolar
    disorder2….although I, too,
    have my rust which must be
    cleaned from off my heart on
    a daily basis as I write & write
    surounded by an abundance &
    emptiness, with the loss of some
    sensuality, a gain of some degree
    ofdessication as several doctors
    deal with my bodily maladies as
    the evening of life incrementally
    goes insensibly into a long night.

    1In the Greek myth the descendants of the Seven against Thebes undertook a second expedition against the city and eventually captured and destroyed it.

    2 Robert Lowell was one of the twentieth century's most esteemed American poets. As a manic depressive who experienced alternating bouts of depression and mania, he was also one of its most tormented. In The Poetry of Heartbreak, July 2003,The Atlantic, Peter Davison reviews this collection and situates Lowell’s extensive body of work within the context of his chaotic life.

    By the time Lowell died in 1977 at age sixty, he had been married and separated three times, had renounced his Protestant roots for what turned out to be a temporary obsession with Catholicism, and had spent much of his adult life in and out of mental hospitals. During his manic spells, he was overtaken by surges of larger-than-life emotion that ended up reflected in his poetry. As Davison describes it:“Ambition, religious passion, poetic genius, and dementia throbbed together in verses that gave off a powerful music, enthralling to some readers but puzzling to others.”

    Ron Price
    14/6/’13 to 25/5/'14.
    Last edited by Ron Price; 05-25-2014 at 10:23 AM. Reason: To add some words
    Ron Price is a Canadian who has been living in Australia for 42 years(in 2013). He is married to a Tasmanian and has been for 37 years after 8 years in a first marriage. At the age of 69 he now spends most of his time as an author and writer, poet and publisher. editor and researcher, online blogger, essayist, journalist and engaging in independent scholarship. He has been associated with the Baha'i Faith for 60 years and a member for 53 years.cool:

  6. #6
    Justifiably inexcusable DocHeart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Athens, Greece
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    As a 42-year-old representative of the young (yes, YOUNG, anyone have an issue with that?), I hereby declare that I have enjoyed reading this whole thread and hope it continues, and also hope to grow old and be like you guys, still able to write short stories and poetry and siht.

    But if I go before then, then at least



    Let Me Die A Youngman's Death
    by Roger McGough


    Let me die a youngman's death
    not a clean and inbetween
    the sheets holywater death
    not a famous-last-words
    peaceful out of breath death

    When I'm 73
    and in constant good humour
    may I be mown down at dawn
    by a bright red sports car
    on my way home
    from an allnight party

    Or when I'm 91
    with silver hair
    and sitting in a barber's chair
    may rival gangsters
    with hamfisted tommyguns burst in
    and give me a short back and insides

    Or when I'm 104
    and banned from the Cavern
    may my mistress
    catching me in bed with her daughter
    and fearing for her son
    cut me up into little pieces
    and throw away every piece but one

    Let me die a youngman's death
    not a free from sin tiptoe in
    candle wax and waning death
    not a curtains drawn by angels borne
    'what a nice way to go' death
    Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine...

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