Measure For Measure: Shall I Compare Thee?

Do Shakespeare and Dylan have something in common?

Shakespeare is quoted more often than any writer this side of the Bible, so it’s no surprise if you added “to a summer’s day” to the title above. But there’s another guy you probably know at least as well, the one who wrote “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” “All Along The Watchtower,” and “Tangled Up In Blue.” According to Carol J. Williams of the LA Times, Bob Dylan is cited in more court opinions and briefs than any other poet. Do Shakespeare and Dylan have something in common? Brilliant use of metaphor immediately comes to mind. Since the last column compared an extended metaphor in “Mr. Tambourine Man” to a hypnotic induction, and Blood On The Tracks (bootleg edition) is explored in this issue, the time seemed ripe to mine the metaphor vein a little deeper, bringing Mr. Shakespeare along as a distinguished guest. “But he’s so sixteenth-century.” Well, if you don’t think you can learn anything from the Bard, try diving into “Ariel’s Song”: Full fathom five thy father lies/ Of his bones are coral made/ Those are pearls that were his eyes:/ Nothing of him that doth fade/ But doth suffer a sea-change/ Into something rich and strange.…

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