AG: And then there’s another funny passage right after that from (the section of “The Bridge”called) “The Tunnel” where (Hart) Crane also picks up on the image of Edgar Allan Poe, whom we’ve already dealt with a little bit. Weird Poe – Poe of the weir, or weird. And he sees a vision of Poe in the subway. Poe, as you know, at the end, his last day – or you may know – was dragged from place to place, voting, from voting-place to voting-place. He’d drunk a little, and was found in the gutter, and was, like, a dead-man vote (which was common in those days [the practice of cooping] – you just take some old bum and drag him from polling-booth to polling-booth and vote him).
AG: So Poe died on the last round of the voting-booths of Baltimore – [Allen begins reading] – “The photographs of hades in the brain/Are tunnels that re-wind themselves, and love/A burnt match skating in a urinal -/Somewhere above Fourteenth TAKE THE EXPRESS/To brush some new presentiment of pain-/ “But I want service in this office SERVICE/I said – after/the show she cried a little afterwards but -/ Whose head is swinging from the swollen strap?/Whose body smokes along the bitten rails,/Bursts from a smoldering bundle far behind/In back forks of the chasms of the brain-/Puffs from a riven stump far out behind/in interborough fissures of the mind…”/ And why do I often meet your visage here,/Your eyes like agate lanterns – on and on/Below the toothpaste and the dandruff ads?/- And did their riding eyes right through your side,/And their eyes, like unwashed platters ride?/And Death, aloft – gigantically down/Probing through you – toward me, O evermore!/And when they dragged your retching flesh,/Your trembling hands that night through Baltimore -/ That last night on the ballot rounds, did you/Shaking, did you deny the ticket, Poe?/ For Gravesend Manor change at Chambers Street./The platform hurries along to a dead stop.” – Just a little fragment from a section called “The Tunnel”
Peter Orlovsky [sitting in on the class]: (Did you deny the ticket?) ..
AG; The ticket. The voting ticket -Did you refuse to vote the ticket that they tried to make you vote? (and also, did you deny the ticket – death – again.
Student: What about the train? The fare?
AG: I don’t know. Might have been. The fare.
Student: A tram?
AG: Might have been pay your dues
AG: Ticket. Pay your dues. Ticket, in the sense of pay your dues. But, I guess, more, would you deny the big ticket of death, sort of
Student: This is very eastern, very Oriental.
Student: The influence of Oriental poetry, perhaps..?
Student: ..by accident..
AG: No, no, everybody was studying haiku then.
Well, Hart Crane had a great heart. We’ll get to that with the “Atlantis” (section), later on in the term, wherein he combines the Whitmanicexpanson with some Surrealist language juxtaposition,with the great Shelley-an breath-inspiration that we started the term with, that we started off in the first session. But that would be for later on, because the recitation of “Atlantis” is something amazing. So I would like everybody over the next weeks to read it carefully, because we’ll do a choral recitation of that because it’s a great text for choral recitation, like (Percy Bysshe) Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind”. People should read (the) “Atlantis” section of Hart Crane (‘s “The Bridge”) carefully, paying attention to the commas, and read it aloud to themselves, and then we’ll organize it as a choral symphony.
[Audio for the above can be heard here, starting at approximately eighty-seven-and-three-quarters minutes in and concluding at the end]