David Whitwell

My Dylan Poem


Music in the morning, and music in the evening

and I could hear it still, in bed, at night.

Operas and symphonies, orchestras, choirs,

relayed to every room in the house.

It was a glorious time

for my music loving father

when long playing records first arrived.

Those were the sounds of my childhood.


So I wasn’t really ready when the Beatles appeared,

though my sister early on was a fan.

And when the brother of one of them moved in down the road,

my mother would report on sightings.

She got Paul’s autograph in the village shop,

written on the paper round her mince.

I did come round in the end, sort-of,

though it still wasn’t really my thing.


It was Dylan who got me, in a London flat,

where I was living, a long way from home.

Introduced by Ann, a young student girl, 

friend of a friend who turned up one day.

Flowers in her hair, a guitar on her back

and she was clutching that precious LP*.

I’d never even heard of this American wonder,

thought at first he was a Welsh poet.


We listened to those songs, over and over,

to the torrent of words pouring out.

Angry, comforting, rough and sweet,

different from anything heard before.

How can I explain the pleasure it gave,

it’s not rational, not sensible at all.

He was a million miles from the life I had lived,

I didn’t really like him, even then.


Maybe how it started, in that upper room:

the girl, my friends, us huddled there.

And the new life, that was starting,

and has lasted, more or less, to this day.

Now at times I think it’s rubbish, I can’t connect at all,

think I’m old and surely I’ve moved on.

But if I listen again, sometimes it returns,

a pleasure, deep, beyond words.



*The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan 1963