Dylan can cut his women down to size. He is often mean in his songs about women. I don’t know of many generous or affectionate love songs by Dylan, but “Sara” is a little more generous than usual. She is mysterious and elusive and this Sara seems to hold the upper hand. She has more agency and power than a typical Dylan creation.
I like some of the classical references in this song such as “Sara, oh Sara / Glamorous nymph with an arrow and bow / Sara, oh Sara / Don’t ever leave me, don’t ever go.” Such allusions can come off as leaden and forced, but these work.
Recently, I have been reminded by a friend of many characters from Greek and Roman literature. Daedalus, who survived his son Icarus. Icarus flew too high and too long, too close to the sun. Daedalus survived, unnaturally living beyond the younger one’s years.
I know Miles in his photography understood allusions and references. We went to the Midtown Scholar bookstore in Harrisburg one day. It is a great bookstore with a large art and photography section. Miles browsed mightily on our trips there. He would get a stack of photography books and look hungrily through them. One time while I was sitting with my tea at a high table, he brought two books to me. One was a William Eggleston book. The other was of the work of a photographer from the generation after Eggleston. Miles showed me two pictures from the books–one Eggleston photograph of a light bulb on the ceiling of a bright red room. The other photograph was similar. It was a light bulb, starkly lit in a bright room. I don’t remember the second book. I just remember Miles’s enthusiasm. Miles explained to me that the second photograph was reminiscent of the Eggleston photograph and that the photographer was making a reference to Eggleston in his own work. It was not obvious to me, but as he explained to me the compositions and the timing and he influence of Eggleston on photography, it became clear to me that he was correct. I was very proud of him.