In my book, Bob Dylan should win the Noble Prize for literature, and before you scholarly snobs start tsk-tsking that Dylan is a mere folk-singer-rock-star- minstrel, not a poet, let me share with you these gems from past Noble-winning poets.
In this world all the flow’rs wither,
The sweet songs of the birds are brief;
I dream of summers that will last
from “In This World” by Sully Prudhomme
Keep dreaming, Sully. You’ve been dead for 107 years. Here’s another:
The vase where this verbena is dying
was cracked by a blow from a fan.
It must have barely brushed it,
for it made no sound.
Evening sunshine never
Solace to my window bears,
Morning sunshine elsewhere fares;-
Here are shadows ever.
from “A Sigh” by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson
No doubt it loses something in translation.
When I bring to you colored toys, my child,
I understand why there is such a play of colors on clouds, on water,
and why flowers are painted in tints
—when I give colored toys to you, my child.
from “Colored Toys” by Rabindranath Tagore
We can’t blame a bad translation on that one; it was originally written in English.
Ah but not the bottle, not the chicken,
Would I touch, however fine and tender;
Nothing but herself, but Fraulein Anna!
Her I’d set upon the pony, clasping
Both my arms around her, and would gallop
All along the street, along the village,
Up the hill, and stop at Friedli’s hostel –
Then we would be married in the autumn.”
from “Puberty” by Carl Spitteler
Compare the above with this:
Darkness at the break of noon
Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child’s balloon
Eclipses both the sun and moon
To understand you know too soon, there is no sense in trying
Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.
When Ruthie says come see her
In her honky-tonk lagoon
Where I can watch her waltz for free
’Neath her Panamanian moon
An’ I say, “Aw come on now
You must know about my debutante”
An’ she says, “Your debutante just knows what you need
But I know what you want”
It was Rock-a-day Johnny singin’, “Tell Your Ma, Tell Your Pa
Our Love’s A-gonna Grow Ooh-wah, Ooh-wah”
I rest my case!