Biggles of the Fighter Squadron by W. E. Johns

By W. E. Johns

'Well if you'd like hassle you could have it!' grated Biggles via set tooth. 'See the way you like this!' within the later levels of the 1st international conflict Biggles and his fellow fliers need to use all their wit and talent to stick prior to the German combatants so decided to carry them down.

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In the latter, the disguised woman, having claimed that it wouldn’t faze her ‘to see ten thousand fall’, finds her lover ‘among the dead and dying’: among those, indeed, ‘in the short, sharp agony of the field’. In the version Dylan sings, it is nicely ambiguous as to whether she finds her lover a wounded survivor among the dead and dying, or whether he too is truly ‘among the dead and dying’, after which the doctor tends his wounds but can do nothing to countermand their mortal effect, so that the marriage with which the song then ends is the death-bed marriage: the kind Barbara Allen is too late with her change of heart to offer Sweet William in the version Dylan sings of that ballad.

Its lines and phrases often have several faces—are frequently more than one kind of creature themselves. It may lack narrative clarity, but it has in abundance that other quality we demand of a complex work: it has unity. This is partly achieved by its series of inner pairings, which extend far beyond the obvious—right hand, left hand; best friend, worst enemy; body of woman, head of hyena; Jerusalem or Argentina; vengeance satisfied, possessions sold; he’s this and she’s that; to love versus to play a game; rider and horse; tree and angel; the other cheek.

As he sings in another song of the early 1980s, the fairly awful ‘Neighborhood Bully’, ‘Every empire . . ’ Two further wisps of Ancient Egyptian air thread their way around ‘Angelina’. One, unsurprising, is evoked by the mention of ‘milk and honey’; the other, surprisingly, floats up from the phrase ‘When you cease to exist . ’ Both bring us to meeting-points with the other world of the song, that of the Bible story. Merely by using the phrase ‘milk and honey’, Dylan reminds us that the children of Israel escaped from Ancient Egypt, embarking upon their own long journey and crossing the Red Sea from shore to shore to gain the promised land.

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