I want to cite the opening lines of Bob Dylan’s “Beyond the Horizon” for my private, noncommercial use:

from Beyond the Horizon

Beyond the horizon, behind the sun
At the end of the rainbow life has only begun
In the long hours of twilight ‘neath the stardust above
Beyond the horizon it is easy to love [. . .]

Copyright Bob Dylan © 2006

Now I have done so. As poet and critic, my purpose is to comment critically on the “locationality” of lyric address here, and in the larger work from which it is taken. There is something I see about the “place” of poetry that is crucially being thought through here. This is something common to the lyric in general. No abridgement of the exclusive right of Bob Dylan or Sony Music Entertainment is intended; in fact, I am by the link printed above directing readers to the site itself. I have read the “terms and conditions” posted on the Bob Dylan site, which refer with authority to the Millennial Copyright Act, with care. Still, I am unsure what constitutes “private, noncommercial use.” 

(Dear Bob, Did I ever mention to you we once met? It was November 1964, after your concert at the Berkeley Community Theater, at the home of Mary Anne Pollard on Grand Avenue in Piedmont, California. Pollard was the producer of the show; also present was Ralph J. Gleason, the liberal music critic of the San Francisco Chronicle. At the time I was sixteen years old. I stepped up to you and spoke, saying I liked your show. You said, “Thanks, man.” My thought is to record that fact before spyware or bot discerns my quote of your stanza and I receive a cease-and-desist notice. Should such a thing occur, I hope that, by virtue of our former acquaintance, you will intercede on my behalf. Thanks, Barrett Watten)

My purpose in citing the stanza is to comment on the impossibility of location in its lines. I am reminded by a passage in Dylan’s Chronicles, where he states that he spent about ten years (perhaps the same ten years, after his turn to religion, when I paid least attention to his work) on a boat in the Caribbean. I am unsure whether he meant ten continuous years or whether he sailed intermittently over a ten-year period. The motif for the song, I learn from Wikipedia, is “Red Sails in the Sunset,” so perhaps there is a fit. I wonder if the song also incorporates lines from Henry Timrod, poet laureate of the Southern Confederacy, as was widely reported of the album, Modern Times.

Beyond the horizon must truly be a special place, as the horizon is continually receding as we approach it. To locate ourselves entirely there must take some effort—as difficult as it is to love, perhaps. We are in a liminal state, and want to perpetuate it as long as possible. All effort to describe where we are can only be citational. Community is elsewhere.

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