Argument: who is the best 20th Century poet?
Although it’s the centenary of Sassoon’s work and I was bathed in the wonders of Frost and Hardy in school (my mother detested Dylan Thomas as a rake), I argued with a friend : Dylan (Bob) versus Khalil Gibran.
Brought up near Laugharne (formerly part owned by Neil Morrisey), I have overcome my mother’s prejudice in this year of Dylan Thomas’s centenary. Alliteration (‘cynghanhedd’ in Welsh) is a wonderful device and Thomas uses it to great effect. Alas, Dylan of Cwmdonkin does not take the prize for me – nor does Khalil Gibran.
Robert Zimmerman of Minnesota wins, hands down.
As a 60’s child, raised with the 4 minute warning, who could forget:
Well, the whole thing started at 3 o’clock fast
It was all over by quarter past
I was down in the sewer with some little lover
When I peeked out from a manhole cover
Wondering who turned the lights on
Well, I got up and walked around
And up and down the lonesome town
I stood a-wondering which way to go
I lit a cigarette on a parking meter and walked on down the road
It was a normal day
© Bob Dylan
For me this is the essence (or was) of the 20th Century. Not Sylvia Plath, not or Ted Hughes, Sassoon or Frost – not even Dylan Thomas
And to the words, add the music.Simple, and for me, memorable.
One question – did the Jimi Hendrix version of ‘All Along the Watchtower’ surpass the Dylan version?