For years I thought there was some kind of high falutin’ message embedded in this
poem and look what it turned out to be. Dylan fell under the influence of a Nazi
named Ray Gooch who he writes about in Chronicles for the first time. The title can
be roughly translated into “The Unvarnished Truth.”
My love (my truth) she speaks like silence (fails to convey its message)
Without (unless it has) ideals (existing as an archetype or pattern,
especially as a Platonic idea or perception: the ideal race) or violence
(shootings, lynching, arson against African-Americans) She doesn’t
have to say she’s faithful (Consistent with truth or actuality) Yet she’s
true, (Conforming to the characteristics or criteria of a group or type;
typical: a true southerner) like ice, (Slang To kill; murder) like fire (The
discharge of firearms: heard the fire of a gun. People (politicians) carry
(communicate; pass on) roses (a rosy outlook on things) Make
promises by the hours (make a long speeches saying that the Blacks
have promise) My love she laughs (my truth feels or expresses derision
or contempt) like the flowers (like the best representations of humanity
have in the past) Valentines can’t buy her (Communists, Reds can’t
buy, accept my way of thinking.)
In the dime stores and bus stations (in the newspapers - places where
newspaper are sold for a dime) People talk of situations (journalists
discuss the racial unrest in America) Read books, repeat quotations
(the reporters read books and repeat quotations from Martin Luther

King’s speeches) Draw conclusions on the wall (and tell everyone what
to think about the evil Jim Crow) Some speak of the future (the
condition of blacks at a later date) My love she speaks softly (my truth,
my beliefs have to be concealed) She knows there’s no success like
failure (he hopes this desegregationist sentiment disappears) And that
failure’s no success at all (because it should not have been there in the
first place).
The cloak and dagger dangles (the white sheets and hoods and
violence of the Klan offer me an inducement or an enticement)
Madams light the candles (respectable white women, light in skin color
make it worth the effort involved worth the candle, worth the effort
involved) In ceremonies of the horsemen (in cross burning by the night
riding KKK) Even the pawn must hold a grudge (even the average
white man as in the Dylan song Only a Pawn in Their Game has an
interest in keeping the blacks away from his women) Statues made of
matchsticks (human beings of all races in a form where you can’t tell
one from another or genes) Crumble into one another (begin to
intermarry and one race begins to break down) My love winks, she
does not bother (I knew all along that miscegenation was the goal of
the civil rights movement so this does not bother me) She knows too
much to argue or to judge (sarcastic: Dylan is being argumentative and
judgmental in this verse).
The bridge (building bridges to promote reconciliation or cooperation
between hostile groups or people) at midnight trembles (causes a
white and a black to have sex and vibrate) The country doctor rambles
(and the white woman becomes pregnant) Bankers’ nieces seek
perfection (white women think they are doing the politically correct
thing) Expecting all the gifts (A talent, endowment, aptitude, or
inclination) that wise men bring (sarcastic that dumb blacks bring) The
wind Something that disrupts or destroys: the winds of war) howls (a
loud derisive call) like a hammer (over and over again or the judicial
system, the Warren Court) The night blows cold and rainy (things look
ominous) My love she’s like some raven (Black and shiny: raven
tresses. My truth is like some black man) At my window (in my
thoughts) with a broken (imperfect or incomplete; fragmentary) wing
(a group affiliated with or subordinate to an older or larger group, a
more primitive human being).