Jack and Dylan
The souls of the sensitive
line up like pigs to slaughter
waiting for the ax to drop
from the hands of a society
that fears truth
and shies from courage.
"Kill the messenger!"
the masses chant like a mantra
for no one likes to hear
of their own faults
their own shortcomings
and those who risk honesty
often pay the price
the writers and musicians
the madman on the street corner
all struggling to live with veracity
and they struggle in vain
but still they march forward
and still they die at our hands.
Baby boy of Lowell,
driving the mad streets
and drinking in the crazy bars
with Neal, Spirit of the West.
Or puffing Pall Malls
and discussing the finer points of
a New Vision
with Allen in a Harlem jazz dive.
Or just sitting alone with your typewriter
pounding out the spirit of a generation
creating the Bible of the Misbegotten
in the space of three weeks
and one tremendous roll of paper.
You cut the tether
that bound the novelist to convention
the reader to tradition.
You called out like a trumpet of honesty
sounding throught the fog of materialism
with prose so reckless and immediate,
so utterly genuine as to ignite a revolution
a movement of millions struggling
railing against insincerity.
And as the harbinger of truth
you were duly struck down.
Unwanted attention and undue criticism
sting like venom in a vulnerable heart.
down you fell
into nights of booze
and days of depression.
The public clammored and cried
for you to play the part of "Beatnik"
when all you could be was little Ti Jean
and that was not enough.
You slipped into a personal hell
wrestled with demons too strong
too tenacious to be pinned down
and you were lost
suffocated by a culture of greed
and strangled by the curses of cynics.
You did not go gentle into that good night.
Raging with an uncommon furor
springing from the wells of passion
bubbling to the surface through words
raw and violent
but beautiful just the same.
Armed with a pen and pure emotion
you, my little Welshman,
you carried the banner of the Romantics
and waged war against cold intellectualism.
As the winds blew toward logic
you stood steadfast in the name of intuition
because, as much as critics might protest,
some things transcend the cerebral
things like the power of a poem
of a voice
a voice so resonant that still,
all these years later,
it claps like thunder
across the landscape of our hearts
the recesses of our souls
and we remember.
Seventeen straight whiskies
does not kill a legend
does not slay a giant
who stared down the trivial
and cried out for truth
who cracked the bone of life
to find its very marrow
who gave into to death
because of a world
that could not understand.
Legends do not die easily
when they rage against the dying of the light.