Poetry or song? It’s just words

The other day I gave you the lyrics of a Bob Dylan song from 57 years ago and suggested that lyrics are basically poetry without words.

Then again some of the finest lyricists in the world are really poets first who then have their poetry put to music.

This does not mean all poems could be put to music.

The best poets create their works to be listened to and the poem and its rhythm are music in their own way.

In the same way there are songs which thousands, even millions, love – but if you took away the music what remains is an alphabetti spaghetti thrown at the wall to see if it is cooked.

What I do find interesting is that the wonderful poet (and Covid survivor) Michael Rosen has presented his own version of Desolation Row with a weekend blog piece called:

Dissolution Street

by Michael Rosen

b. 1946
The King is in the counting house, eating bread and money, 
He thinks if he talks like Julius Caesar, we'll think he is funny. Plato has found a way to play chess, using tanks and guns 
'Who cares?' says Henry Ford, 'we'll make ten thousand suns.' 
John and Yoko close the curtains and get beneath the sheets 
They can hear the bombs outside, falling on Dissolution Street.
The banker says to the poor man, 'You're helping keep things great.' Louis Braille's lost his sight and says people keep giving him bad looks. 
They say they know how to handle him. They take away his books. 
King Midas tells the multitude there's always plenty to eat 
The queue at the food bank stretches down Dissolution Street 

They found that the judge was lying, so the judge changed all the rules 
They found gold beneath the playgrounds, so they sold off all the schools 
Doctor Death went to hospital, where he met up with Dr Who 
Doctor Death said he was out of cash, so he sold the hospital too. 
The Sheriff of Nottingham was saying that it was honest to cheat 
As he strung up Robin Hood on Dissolution Street. 

The doctor's telling me the good news, my foot won't be falling off
The nurse is telling me I've got no lungs so I don't need to cough.
Another nurse is telling me, 'Move!', cos I often fall out of bed. 
The doctor's telling me more good news, he says I'm not brain dead.
The diary's open on yesterday but I don't know who I'll meet 
They say I'm deconditioned, now I'm on Dissolution Street. 

The Queen says how it's awful people resent her fur coats. 
The real problem she says is people arriving in small boats 
They will eat every one of you, she says to you and me 
The safest thing for all of us, is if we push 'em into the sea 
One or two can come ashore and as some kind of treat 
They can become nurses or clean the floors on Dissolution Street 

From the other end of the corridor, I hear a woman scream 
I lean out of bed and ask the nurse, 'Can I stay in my dream?' 
He says, 'You're dead anyway, so you're missing the bad weather. 
This is the last place on the earth where we're all working together.'
They bring in the last machine they have, I could see my heart beat 
I might be dead now, I think, but we can leave Dissolution Street.   

NB: on reading it again (and again) I realise that Michael Rosen makes sense of the current position, far more than Bob Dylan did in 1965.

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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