However, the connections between Timrod and Modern Times don’t stop with lines from poems. I’m not sure who actually suggested the idea, but there apparently floats a notion that the title of Modern Times is a rearranging of the letters that spell Henry Timrod. Now before you spit your drink out in a fine mist of surprise at the absurdity of it all….before you notice that the title and the name are hardly a match in letters – consider that the six letters (three in each) that do not have counterparts spell the telling word
Perhaps two poems from Timrod will offer more clues into the bottomless mystery of Bob Dylan, and, if not, perhaps they will provide a glimpse from the poet himself:
At Magnolia Cemetery (Charlston, 1967)
SLEEP sweetly in your humble graves,
Sleep, martyrs of a fallen cause;
Though yet no marble column craves
The pilgrim here to pause.
In seeds of laurel in the earth
The blossom of your fame is blown,
And somewhere, waiting for its birth,
The shaft is in the stone!
Meanwhile, behalf the tardy years
Which keep in trust your storied tombs,
Behold! your sisters bring their tears,
And these memorial blooms.
Small tributes! but your shades will smile
More proudly on these wreaths to-day,
Than when some cannon-moulded pile
Shall overlook this bay.
Stoop, angels, hither from the skies!
There is no holier spot of ground
Than where defeated valor lies,
By mourning beauty crowned.
Poet! If on a Lasting Fame Be Bent
Poet! if on a lasting fame be bent
Thy unperturbing hopes, thou will not roam
Too far from thine own happy heart and home;
Cling to the lowly earth, and be content!
So shall thy name be dear to many a heart;
So shall the noblest truths by thee be taught;
The flower and fruit of wholesome human thought
Bless the sweet labors of thy gentle art.
The brightest stars are nearest to the earth,
And we may track the mighty sun above,
Even by the shadow of a slender flower.
Always, O bard, humility is power!
And thou mayst draw from matters of the hearth
Truths wide as nations, and as deep as love.