Meditation and Poetics – 14 (Thomas Greaves)

AG: (However,) I wanted to read a couple (of poems))  I want to stay with the breath for a moment.  Back to the breath.
Thomas Greaves – 1604.  You can find this in an Elizabethan Songbook edited by Noah Greenburg, Doubleday, 1955:
“What is beauty but a breath?  Fancy’s …” 
Is somebody making noise here? –  Okay –
 “What is beauty …” – I’ll start again.
What is beauty but a breath?/Fancies twin at birth & death./  The color of a damask rose/ That fadeth when the north wind blowes/ ‘tis such that though all sorts do crave it,/ they know not what it is to have it. -/  a thing that sometimes stoops not to a king/ and yet most open to the commonest thing -/  For she that is most fair/ Is open to the aire.”
That’s pretty good. 
Student:  That’s perfect.
AG:  It’s amazing, in fact, how much comes in and out of some very subtle thought of mind – of open mind related to spirit, to breath and everything.  I’ll read it one more time.  I saw it in a book and I copied it down.  It’s by Thomas Greaves in 1604.
“What is beauty but a breath?/  Fancies twin …” – (that is, Imagination’s twin, thought form’s twin – thought-form’s twin) “at birth & death.” – “ What is beauty but a breath?/Fancies twin at birth & death./  The color of a damask rose/ That fadeth when the north wind blowes/ ‘tis such that though all sorts do crave it,/ they know not what it is to have it. -/  a thing that sometimes stoops not to a king/ and yet most open to the commonest thing -/  For she that is most fair/ Is open to the aire.”
Student:  I love that. 
Student:  That’s brilliant.
AG:  Well, I don’t know.  “What is beauty but a breath?”  It’s a song.  There’s music to it, actually, in the (An) Elizabethan Songbookby Noah Greenberg, edited by (W.H.Auden, Chester Kallman and)  Noah Greenberg, Doubleday, ’55, Anchor. 

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately  fifty-four-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately  fifty-six-and-a-half minutes in]

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