Lot #2059
Bob Dylan Signed Handwritten Poem: "I Thought She Was Hip"

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Estimate: $20000+


Fantastic handwritten poem in pencil by Bob Dylan, signed “Dylan,” one page, 8.5 x 11, taken from his circa 1960 ‘Poems Without Titles’ penned while at the University of Minnesota. The humorous poem tells the story of a coffee date, beginning:

“I thought she
was hip
when we
and I flipped when
all of Prufrock
by heart.”

Impressed by her fascinating conversation—she fills him on on the “squares down in Lexington” and the “Zen Lunitics [sic] of the Orient”—the date unravels when she expects him to hold the door for her upon leaving:

“I puked
down her sweater
some more

In fine condition.

Filled with Beat-era imagery of coffeehouses, poetry recitations, and “Zen Lunatics,” this wonderfully rendered poem captures Dylan’s playful storytelling at its finest, while also evoking some of his early influences. First, the coffeehouse setting was both the backdrop of the Beat generation that inspired much of Dylan’s early work, and where he got his start as a performer—first at the 10 O’Clock Scholar near the University of Minneapolis, and later in the coffeehouses of Greenwich Village.

Second, he refers to a piece by one of his favorite poets at the time, T. S. Eliot, author of the ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’—the tale of a sexually frustrated middle-aged man who has ‘measured out his life in coffee spoons.’ In Dylan’s 1965 classic ‘Desolation Row,’ he would invoke Eliot directly: ‘And Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot / Fighting in the captain’s tower / While calypso singers laugh at them / And fishermen hold flowers.’

Finally, the poem ends with a simple twist of fate: after a seemingly successful date, the poet and his companion make it to the coffee shop door. Disgusted at being expected “to open the damn thing,” he vomits all over her and decides to order another coffee instead. It’s an unexpected reversal of fortune that undermines society’s expectations of chivalry. Like Prufrock, the poet has abandoned women for coffee. Dylan’s sly humor and keen storytelling abilities are on display in this enjoyable handwritten poem.

Bob Dylan Poem Copyright © 2022 Babinda Music

Provenance: Christie’s, 11/21/05

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Marvels of Modern Music
  • Dates: #636 - Ended May 19, 2022

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