Pushing Through a Hard Rain: Classification of Bob Dylan as a Poet through his song "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall"

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Pushing Through A Hard Rain

In Christopher Ricks' Dylan's Visions of Sin chapter titled Songs, Poems, Rhymes (11-48), he claims that the main difference between poetry and lyrics is punctuation. In a poem you can see differences in capitalization or you can see the end approaching as you read; however, in a song you would not be able to tell how much longer it will go and you rely on the voice as the punctuation. Although there is a distinct difference between a poem and a song by virtue of medium, Ricks does believe that Dylan's lyrics qualify as poetry by virtue of quality. The rhymes and metaphors used are of excellence that qualifies the lyrics as poetry. Robert Christgau, a critic who wrote "Rock lyrics Are Poetry (Maybe)"(62-63), believes that only some exceptions can qualify as poetry by virtue of quality, and none by virtue of medium. Christgau believes that "Dylan's obsession with rhyme"(63) leads him to make bad rhymes that take away from the quality of the work.

He stands firmly that Dylan is a songwriter and not a poet. I disagree. Based on the quality of the lyrics, Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" functions as great poetry.

Dylan's lyrics for "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" qualify as great poetry due to the powerful use of imagery that evokes emotion. Western Wind by David Mason and John Frederick Nims explains the traits of good poetry. The first chapter is about imagery and it explains that concrete images are much more effective then abstract images. "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" uses concrete imagery effectively to give the poem a dark and depressing tone. Dylan abstains from using much rhyme in this song to avoid the limitations it may set on word choice. The diction...