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John Keats and Bob Dylan

May 24, 2016

Happy Birthday Bob Dylan


Christopher Ricks has always had to put up with a fair amount of flak for comparing Bob Dylan with John Keats.  As someone who has written one of the best books ever written about Keats, he’s supposed to know what he’s talking about.  One rather jaundiced commentator decided to simply print Keats’ sonnet on reading Chapman’s Homer alongside the words to “Wiggle Wiggle” by way of sneering at the deluded academic.

Not fair, of course, to quote some of Keats’ best lines opposite some of Dylan’s worst, but I started to think about how the comparison could be made fairer.  How about comparing the work of Dylan up to the age of 25 with the work of Keats up to the age of 25?   If the two are to be compared, then how about imagining that the motorcycle crash was fatal.  If Dylan had died in 1966, at the same…

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