Bob Dylan, T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding

by elmergantry

For some reasons, these lines from T.S. Eliot’s ‘Little Gidding’ – originally, it appears, designed to refer to W.B. Yeats – seem to me to apply well to ‘Tempest’ (the entire album, that is). They refer to the plight of the aging artist:

First, the cold friction of expiring sense
Without enchantment, offering no promise
But bitter tastelessness of shadow fruit
As body and soul begin to fall asunder.
Second, the conscious impotence of rage
At human folly, and the laceration
Of laughter at what ceases to amuse.
And last, the rending pain of re-enactment
Of all that you have done, and been; the shame
Of motives late revealed, and the awareness
Of things ill done and done to others’ harm
Which once you took for exercise of virtue.
Then fools’ approval stings, and honour stains.
From wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit
Proceeds, unless restored by that refining fire
Where you must move in measure, like a dancer