‘As one 80-year-old to another’: Michael D Higgins wishes Bob Dylan Happy Birthday

President references Wordsworth poem Michael in letter to singer-songwriter

President Michael D Higgins has written to Bob Dylan on the occasion of his 80th birthday. Photographs: Stephen Collins/Collins; Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

President Michael D Higgins has written to Bob Dylan on the occasion of his 80th birthday. Photographs: Stephen Collins/Collins; Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

 

President Michael D Higgins has paid tribute to singer-songwriter Bob Dylan who turns 80 on Monday in a newly released letter which praises Dylan’s musical and political achievements.

In the letter, which was posted online by Áras an Uachtaráin, President Higgins references the poem Michael by William Wordsworth, which focuses on the rural life of an older shepherd.

“As one 80-year-old to another, and as one poet to another, I felt I should share with you my view that the best poem on an 80-year-old is William Wordsworth’s poem Michael, which deals with the consequences of the enclosures in England in the 18th century, and their making of a working-class of men, women and children for the factory system at the cost of intimate rural life. I feel it’s a beautiful work and would love sometime to talk to you about it,” President Higgins wrote.

“In 2016, I said of you: ‘Bob Dylan’s linking of the American folk tradition to moral, economic and political challenges has been a significant achievement and the appeal of his music has been inter-generational. His lyrics, with their rhythms, have linked followers of country, jazz and rock to counter-cultural and politically engaged movements. In doing this, he has narrowed the space between the poetic, the musical and the political.’ My opinion hasn’t changed.”

“Keep going. Good luck with everything. Traoslaím leat (I congratulate you). Beir Bua (May victory be yours).”