Pricey scraps of genius?

Pricey scraps of genius?

From Albert Einstein to Sigmund Freud, from Franklin Pierce to Menachem Begin, from Stephen Sondheim to Natan Sharansky, the upcoming auction from Lion Heart Autographs has a signed piece of history for all interests.

But the true history-making items in this auction are two pages of previously unknown writings scrawled in the hand of Bob Dylan on Ritz Carlton hotel stationery. Authenticated by a leading Dylan scholar, the pages do not seem to be draft lyrics for the future Nobel laureate, despite being described that way by the auction catalog. For starters, they contain no rhymes.

What they do have is a mixture of theology, biblical allusions, and American imagery. The catalog dates it to the early 1980s — not long after Dylan’s conversion to evangelical Christianity in 1978, probably before his explorations of Judaism, including time at a Long Island yeshiva, before he recorded his Infidels album in 1983.

One page includes the lines “chicken stealing hawk shot by a farmers rifle/ like a silly dove without a heart” — which the catalog helpfully decodes as in part a reference to Hosea 7:11; the next line similarly references Hosea 5:7: “Those who deal treacherously with the Lord beget strange children.”

The tone on the other page is similar; it deals with Christian doctrine of supercessionism, that Christianity gets right what Judaism gets wrong:

“to the Jews, I sang ‘you do good deeds to hasten/ the coming of the messiah but the song Messiah / comes when the earth is flooded, flooded with atheists.”

Again, not a song lyric — maybe a sketch toward the sort of poem he used decades earlier to fill the space on the back covers of his earliest albums?

In any event, it’s the perfect birthday gift for your favorite Dylan fan. The auction house estimates bidding will reach $12,500 per page.

Larry Yudelson

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