[Caliban – Charles A Buchel, 1904]
Allen Ginsberg on Shakespeare’s The Tempest continues (and concludes)
continuing from yesterday
AG: Trinculo’s got some very funny lines, discovering Caliban’s nature and how he smelt like a fish! – “..a very ancient and fish-/like smell, a kind not of the newest Poor-/John. A strange fish! Were I in England now, as once I was, and had this fish painted… a painted fish”
And here’s that line, “..misery acquaints a man with/ strange bedfellows” – Did Shakespeare invent that? – “misery…”, line 38 – “Misery makes strange bedfellows?” You know the famous trite phrase? – Maybe from here.
So, what is this, so we have a comical scene, a couple of nice phrases, well, I mean, there are a lot of nice phrases, in the prose (but I don’t think we need to dwell on it). I like line 61 – “What’s the matter? Have we devils here? Do you put/ tricks upon’s with savages and men of Ind, ha? I/have not ‘scaped drowning to be afeard now of your/four legs, for it hath been said, As proper a man as/ever went on four legs cannot make him give ground,/And it shall be said so again while Stephano/ breathes at’s nostrils” – “while Stephano/ breathes at’s nostrils” i.e. “while I’m alive” – That’s another illustration of his.. Shakespeare’s directness of images, (rather than…), and avoidance of generalization. Instead of saying, “while I’m alive”, he says, “while I’m breathing at my nostrils” – “while Stephano”, you know – “I shall continue to teach here at Naropa, while Ginsberg breathes through his nostrils”! – It’s a funny way of making it absolute, sure, true, exact.. you know, of nailing it down, nailing down a note – “While Jim Cohn [sic – one of the students in attendance] breathes through his nostrils, he’ll continue to play the piano” – “Says Jim Cohn, “I’ll play the piano as long as I breathe through my nostrils!” – It’s very direct, and totally grounded. Then there’s also, later on, all this stuff about “moons” and “mooncalfs” – (Stephano): “Out of the moon, I do assure thee, I was the man i’/ the moon when. time was“..”How camest thou to be the siege of this mooncalf?” – (that’s line 105) – “How camest thou to be the siege of this mooncalf?” – and line 135 – Caliban – “Hast thou not not dropp’d from heaven? – Stephano: “Out of the moon, I do assure thee, I was the man i’/ the moon when. time was“..
So they get Caliban drunk (and so, I suppose, this is a parable with what happens with the mob, what happens with the lower class(es), in Shakespeare’s mind, and it’s really pretty ridiculous because, if you take Caliban to be the laboring proletariat (or the lumpenproletariat , the laboring proletariat, the masses, and if you take Stephano and Trinculo to be the jesters and misleaders of the masses, or the leaders of the masses, or the revolutionary leaders because they’re going on a revolution here), this is Shakespeare’s analysis of revolution, where the under-privileged, the ground-down, the slaves, the proletariat, and their middle-class leaders, or lower-class leaders, are getting together a mob to go attack the castle of Prospero, his cell, and getting drunk on the way, and the..
and Caliban (and the masses), getting drunker and drunker, saying, “I want to lick your foot, You should be my master. I’ll show you where the old master lives”. It’s really disgusting, (a) disgustingly anti-democratic view, in a way. But then, he’s also done the same thing to the aristocracy. He’s also shown.. In fact, the aristocracy is even stupider and is sly-er and meaner (here, everybody is just drunk, and ill-natured, and dumb, but, above, they’re drunk, ill-natured, and smart! – which is worst? – who knows!) But, he’s promising, in line 140 or so, Caliban – “I’ll show thee every fertile inch o’ the island/And I will kiss thy foot: I prithe be my god” – Trinculo – “By this light, a most perfidious and drunken/monster! when’s god’s asleep, he’ll rob his bottle” – Caliban – “I’ll kiss thy foot, I’ll swear myself thy subject” – Stephano: “Come on then, down, and swear”
And then, it’s Trinculo, the jester, “I shall laugh myself to death at this puppy-headed/monster. A most scurvy monster! I could find in my/heart to beat him -” – Sttephano: – “Come, kiss” – Trinculo: “But that the poor monster’s in drink; an abominable monster“
Meanwhile, the monster (the people) say very beautiful lines – “I’ll show thee the best springs, I’ll pluck thee berries/I’ll fish for thee and get thee wood enough/A plague upon the tyrant that I serve!/I’ll bear him no more sticks but follow thee/ Thou wondrous man” (because he’s been giving him fire-water) – Trinculo – “A most ridiculous monster to make a wonder of a/ Poor drunkard!” – Caliban – “I prithee, let me bring thee where crabs grow/And I with my long nails will dig thee pignuts” (spoken of as peanuts, somebody said, pignuts (equals) peanuts, yes). “Show thee a jay’s nest and instruct thee how/ To snare the nimble marmoset, I’ll bring thee/ To clustering filberts and sometimes I’ll get thee?Young scamels from the rock. Wilt thou go with me?” – So they’re going to go with him, so, with his howling monster, this drunken monster, and Calban’s revolutionary song is: “No more dams I’ll make for fish/ Nor fetch in firing/At requiring/Nor scrape trencher, nor wash dish/ ‘Ban ‘Ban Cacaliban!/ Has a new master, get a new man./Freedom, hey-day! hey day, freedom!, freedom, /hey-day, freedom!” – (That’s really sad, acttually!) – Stephano –
“O brave monster..” (even worse!).
Coleridge has something to say about that that’s interesting, what do people, what do people think of Shakespeare’s reactionary, or apparently reactionary (stance)?, (because, after all, Coleridge was of the day of the French Revolution, where all this came true). (William) Blake also had the same vision, which I quoted, in “The Grey Monk“, I quoted yesterday, “The hand of Vengeance found the Bed/To which the Purple Tyrant fled/The iron hand crushed the Tyrant’s head/And became a Tyrant in his stead” (which is what were going to have here). In 1811, Coleridge’s lecture on The Tempest, (he) said, “that kind of politics which is inwoven with human nature”. However, “In his treatment of this subject, wherever it occurs, Shakespeare is quite peculiar. In other writers we find the particular opinions of the individual; in Massinger, it is rank republicanism, in Beaumont and Fletcher even juro divine principles, (divine right, I guess), are carried to excess – but Shakespeare never promulgates any party tenets. He is always the philosopher and the moralist, but at the same time with a profound veneration for all the established institutions of society, and for those classes which form the permanent elements of the state – especially never introducing a professional character, as such, otherwise than respectable. If he must have any name, he should be styled a philosophical aristocrat” – That’s kind of interesting – it’s very Burroughs-ian also, Burroughs’ basic take, a little bit of, a little bit somewhat of the basic Buddhist take around here (Naropa) I would say, not far from the Shakesperian monarchial philosophical aristocrat – “delighting in those hereditary institutions which have a tendency to bind one age to another” – (that’s another shot, that’s interesting, as a rationale for the philosophical aristocracy) – and delighting in “that system of ranks, of which, although few may be in possession” – (ie a few enjoy the pleasures of the wise council of Gonzalo), “all enjoy the advantages” – all of the State has the advantage of his possession, of this possession, all of the advantages of Gonzalo’s powers, since Gonzalo is wise). So, it’s basically, in a way, a sort of Confucian view, that is, delighting in the “hereditary institutions which have a tendency to bind one age to another”. So, in this respect, politically, Shakespeare has, as we understand, Confucian attitudes towards authority. “Hence again, you will observe the good nature with which he seems always to make sport with the passions and follies of a mob, as with an irrational animal. He is never angry with it but hugely content with holding up its absurdities to its face, and sometimes you may trace a tone of almost affectionate superiority, something like that in which the father speaks of the rogueries of a child. See the good-humoured way in which he describes Stephano passing from the most licentious freedom to absolute despotism over Trinculo and Caliban”.
[Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)]
Well, I might as well finish this one paragraph of Coleridge, because Coleridge is very intelligent, and it’s a really interesting point, or it’s a point that everybody recognizes one way or another about Shakespeare, that “philosophical aristocrat” that he is, but I don’t know if it has been as well or overtly expressed, except by Coleridge. I mean, Buckley, William Buckley would make a more reactionary monster of Shakespeare than Coleridge does, and the Marxists would make a, sympathetic with Buckley, would make a reactionary monster. And I suppose left-wing Marxists would make.. have made Shakespeare as an enemy, analyzed Shakespeare as an enemy of the proletariat and an ally of the oppressing aristocracy. I think there is such Shakespearean criticism, or was, probably, I don’t know. Does anybody know about that?
Student: Also that he was just white.. part of the white devils….
AG: Yes, part of the white devils, yeah
Student: Actually, in his time, it was just the way to go, you know. You didn’t really think of anything, you just..
AG: Well, yes, you had regicide. I mean, this is.. Shakespeare is full of cases of regicide all the time
Student: But I hadn’t thought of…
AG: But he’s always laying it as an ambition or envy trip. Or is he always? – well, no, sometimes it’s ambivalent. I mean, sometimes it’s the weak-mindedness of Lear, (and there’s some criticism of the King here, that he didn’t make provision for envy, for evil power, didn’t make provision for power-ambition, and when he left, and left the whole scene open to his brother to take over and screw up)
Student: Same sort of thing in Richard the second
AG: Richard the second also
AG: Well, I’ll read the rest of., it’s very brief, two more sentences – “The truth is Shakespeare’s characters are all – general intensely individualized, the results of meditation, of which observation supplied the drapery and the colours necessary to combine them with each other. He had virtually surveyed all the great component powers and impulses of human nature – had seen that their different combinations and subordinations were in fact the individualizers of men, and showed how their harmony was produced by reciprocal disproportions of excess or deficiency. The language in which these truths are expressed was not drawn from any set fashion, but from the profoundest depths of his moral being, and is therefore for all ages.”
– That the main insight into.. let’s see… He also says, “..it is in the primacy of the moral, being only that man is truly human..” (I suppose a contrast between Ariel (and) Caliban, as non-human creatures, and Caliban as a moral human) – “for it is in the primacy of the moral being that man is truly human in his intellectual powers he is certainly approached by the brutes, and, man’s whole system duly considered, those powers cannot be considered as other than means to an end, that is, to morality.”
Well, I was just checking out what Coleridge had to say about Shakespeare, about The Tempest specifically, which is that one “philosophical aristocrat” analysis, I thought was really interesting, and something you can’t get around, particularly in this day and age when..there was a tendency, say in the (19)60’s, towards a total democratic libertarianism and philosophical anarchy. Here, the man for all ages, and all times, and all seasons, Shakespeare, is not a philosophical anarchist but a philosophical conservative, an aristocrat (and I noticed the same thing in (William) Burroughs, although Burroughs’ humor is totally anarchic – Philosophical anarchism, I mean, he would have the middle-class and the upper-class skewered and screwed, and, you know, eaten by rats! – that’s his constant fantasy, but he himself, will say, “Well, there’s no better place than America, if you want to…(that) America’s the best place in the world, you’ve got, you know… you don’t want to go out there with the rest of the starving natives, do you? – “If you want all the advantages, you’d better stay here, if you know which side your bread is buttered on, you better stay here”. Burroughs is sort of sneakily, overtly sneaking your attention back to the fact that you’ve got it good and you’d better not complain, unless you’re willing to take the consequences . At least, that’s what he always does with me, when I come on radical with Burroughs. He’s always rebuking me by saying, “Listen, Ginsberg, you got it good here, you’re the poet of protest? You’re making a lot of money. Where else could you be the poet of protest? It’s a good life that you’ve got. You’ve got a good deal here”. Like.. but he’s also like a Shakespeare character who’s a bit cynical (well-meaning, but very cynical, and knows which side his bread is buttered on).
[William S Burroughs (1914-1997)]
Student: Kind of like a bag-lady..I’m thinking about bag-ladies..
AG: Really? I wonder where you get that notion..?
Student: ..because he’s an individual, you know
AG; Yes. Well, that aspect of his mind, which I was pointing out, which is like Shakespeare’s is.. well, I couldn’t call it.. there’s a humorous aspect, (it’s not quite cynical, it’s just a disillusioned, or un-. -I mean frank, or disillusioned, or laconic, or cynical – which is another quality which is straightforwardness – but humorous, as in Shakespeare). And it’s not quite cynicism, but, there is a word, it’s… un-pretentiously frank, disillusionarily unpretentiously frank or honest (I’m not quite sure what that is, there is an adjective for that which fits here – realistic?
AG: Up-front, realistic..
Student: Something like the Convention in Chicago in (19)68, when he didn’t want
to walk in the marches (and) he found himself , you know, on anti-violence marches…
Student : I think that what I meant was, in that period, I don’t think anybody had , really, very much fun, you know,(with) the whole idea, the whole atmosphere…
AG: There was a revolution very soon afterwards. King James the second? – who was it that got..?
Student: Charles the first.
AG: Charles the first? – and that was the guy after James the first – So, the next successive King was going to get his head cut off!
Student: But they were mostly religious wars…
AG: Well, religious wars, but they were complaining against all this fancy finery and excessive aristocratic ostentatiousness – and the sexual licence and the degeneracy of manners and everything. It was somewhat proletarian shot, wasn’t it, the Cromwell-ian period?
AG: Right. Who took over from the Cromwell revolution? Was that shopkeepers took over? What party took over? Was it just honest businessmen? land-owning aristocrats? – I’ve forgot. Does anybody know? So there was a social revolution..
[Oliver Cromwell ( 1599-1658]
Okay, let’s move on. So, anyway, so Shakespeare’s jape at revolution is: “‘Ban ‘Ban Cacaliban!/ Has a new master, get a new man./Freedom, hey-day! hey day, freedom!, freedom, /hey-day, freedom!” (and I was comparing that with Burroughs’ attitude towards democracy (and (Chogyam) Trungpa‘s, for that matter) and (William) Blake’s disillusionment, and also you can bring in some of (William) Wordsworth‘s revolution later with the French Revolution. And Coleridge’s comment is, after Napoleon also, 1811, at the height of..maybe at the height of Napoleon’s military power, but also (it was) at the height of the disillusionment that Wordsworth had, and probably Coleridge, with revolutionary Napopleon, and so Coleridge is willing to accept Shakespeare’s philosophical aristocratism without getting mad, as maybe (Percy Bysshe) Shelley, or younger Coleridge, younger Wordsworth, might have done, before they’d had their revolution and seen their
I’m still wondering.. what is that? There’s a phrase they use in Time magazine to mean that somebody’s laconic and realistic – “looking at things with a jaundiced eye” – “jaundiced”, yes, Burroughs is jaundiced realism (except “jaundiced” is a little sour still, there’s another, still another, word that is even more exact, which is more honorific (to) this attitude.
Well, moving on, we get to Act 2, Scene 1, which, as I said, in contrast to the aristocratic conspiracy and the mob-democracy conspiracy, or the low local conspiracy, the idyllic scene is the love-scene between innocence and innocence, the innocent prince and the innocent princess, Ferdinand (and Miranda), their reconciliation, and Prospero witnessing and approving their love. There are a few.. well ,there are a lot of interesting lines in it, like Prospero (aside): “Poor worm, thou art infected!” (meaning, poor mortal man, thou art infected with love, “Poor worm, thou art infected!”, talking about Miranda and Ferdinand’s relation (Miranda’s, probably). We’ll skip over that. I would point out there’s a “crowned”… (remember we had this funny phrase about the crown before? – what was it in relation to? – I mentioned it..)
Student(s): It was on the imagination..They were playing (at being) the King….
AG: Yes, so, then there is… that crown returns in Ferdinand’s speech, Act 3, Scene 1, line sixty-nine, sixty-eight, “O heaven, O earth, bear witness to this sound/And crown what I profess with kind event/If I speak true!” – (So there’s that “crown” again)
Then Prospero, praying for the proper issue (line seventy-five) – “Fair encounter/Of two most rare affections! Heaven rain grace/On that which breeds between them” – Funny pun – “Heaven rain grace” on whatever progeny they have, whatever be bred between them. But, you know, for a heterosexual love, that’s kind of interesting – “that which breeds” between these lovers” (“breeding”, meaning the affections between them and the relationship, but also the implication of increase, “foison”, progeny, creation, “that which breeds” – Creation – creation, that which is going to be created between them, meaning the emotional affair but also..breeding, something that breeds, or gives birth.
Meanwhile, we get back to – Scene 2, Act 3, contrast building up. Caliban – “How does thy honor. Let me lick thy shoe” – (“Let me lick thy shoe“, he’s really so abased and it’s the… Shakespeare really must have had an abased, debased, mind to have to conceived that, so directly and so frankly and so without any kind of…it’s really raw! Finally, he’s got this monster, fishy monster, on the ground, saying, “Let me.. Let me lick thy shoe!” – it’s really disgusting! – Who’s shoes is he going to lick but this drunken..drunken idiot(s)?
So the prose there gets funny then. Trinculo – “Thou liest, most ignorant monster. I am in case to/justle a constable. Why, thou deboshed fish thou/was there ever man a coward that has drunk so much/sack as I today. Wilt thou tell a monstrous lie,/ being but half a fish and half a monster” – I love that – “Let me lick thy shoe” – It’s really.. it’s a great line (like the other one about the.. they’ll take to it like a cat licks..milk.. what is it? – the cat licks the dish of milk?)
Student: …laps it.
AG: “The cat laps milk”. I mean, it’s a good phrase for an actor – “the cat laps milk”, “let me lick thy shoe”. As the author of “Please Master”, I thought this was a great line – “Let me lick thy shoe”. I mean, just to put the whole thing from that level, finally. And, as you noticed, as they get drunker and drunker, Caliban gets more and nore intolerant and intolerable, until, finally, his whole motive is stated very baldly (his desire is stated very baldly- “Let me lick thy shoe”, but his motive on line forty-two of Act 4) – “As I told thee before, I am subject to a tyrant, a/sorcerer who by his cunning has cheated me of the island” – (So it’s back to the theme of envy – Even Caliban feels that he’s supposed to be King of the Island, that (the true magician) Prospero’s sneaked it away from him. It’s kind of interesting, that, philosophically, it’s reversed, that the lowest, most monstrous, is angry because he feels that he should be King and that the King, Prospero (who, actually, is going to get rid of his magic wand and resign his kingdom and resign his magic and resign his power, and wants to get rid of his power) is being confronted by this monster who wants power. It’s a really sad situation, human situation, that those who want to get rid of power and disarm completely are constantly confronted by aggression, the aggressive powers that want to gain power and keep the fight going, whether… At this point, I was beginning to compare the situation with my relation with Tom Clark and Ed Dorn (sic) , as well as the situation between the pacifists in America and the military, which is getting up on its haunches now  in this election (sic).
[Ronald Reagan (1911-20o4) (US President 1981-1989)]
[Alexander Haig (1924-2010) (US Secretary of State 1981-1982)]
[Richard “Dick” Cheyney (1941-) (US Vice-President under George W Bush]
How did the wise man, Prospero deal with aggression? In this case, in a really interesting way. Imagination answers in Ariel by setting them to quarrel with an invisible body but a voice mocking them, saying at one or another, “Lies” – Caliban – “..hath cheated me of the island” – Ariel – “Thou liest” – Caliban – “Thou liest, thou jesting monkey thou..” (thinking that somebody else was talking, thinking that Trinculo was talking, so that Trinculo has to say, “Why, I said nothing”). So (he) sets rumor going, and gossip. Rumor and gossip is going and people are quarreling with each other, thinking somebody else said something, but actually it’s the imagination saying something. So Trinculo says, “Why, I said nothing“, So Stephano says, “Well, then shut up!’ – So, “Proceed no more” – “Mum then, and no more. Proceed” – “I say by sorcery, he got this isle“, continues Caliban, “From me he got it” (So, he’s really covetous, wanting to get it back). It winds up that Ariel, continuing: “Thou liest”, thou canst not“, and starts a fight between them. Caliban – “What a pied ninny’s this!” – that’s a nice line – “What a pied ninny’s this!, Thou scurvy patch!” (“patch”, because he’s dressed up in patches, the jester’s patches – we’re talking about Trinculo dressed up as.. Trinculo, who is suspected of calling Caliban a liar because Ariel from the air has been whispering it, in the air). So that Caliban finally calls him a “pied ninny” (“pied” meaning a motley, weaing a jester’s costume, patch clown) – “Thou scurvy clown”- “scurvy patch” (“patch“, I guess, because of patches, “scurvy patch” – patched quadrangles on the clothes.
So they get on to they fight and actually hit each other – Stephano, lording it over both Caliban and Trinculo, hits Trinculo, in line 74 or so, 73 – “Do I so? take thou that!”
Then the great funny part is when Caliban now outlines the plot of..the assassination plot, to those guys, that, in line 84 – “Why, as I told thee, ’tis a custom with him/I’ th’ afternoon to sleep, there thou mayst brain him,/Having first seized his books, or with a log/Batter his skull or paunch him with a stake,/Or cut his wezand with thy knife“, (his wind-pipe),”Remember/First to possess his books for without them/He’s but a sot, as I am..”
– (if he doesn’t have his magical books, he’s “but a sot“) – And this is really interesting, because Caliban conceives that the magic power of Prospero is in his magic books. At the same time, Prospero is planning to get rid of his magic power and burn his books. And so, at the same time that… (so) books symbolizing excessive..excessively.. well, whatever books, and magic power, symbolize here – power (like Gregory Corso’s “Power“ [i.e. the poem “Power”]. “A thirst for power is the thirst for sand. Power is under-powered”. So, a power is “standing on a street-corner, waiting for no-one is power” – “The angel is not more powerful in looking than not-looking” – So, at the same time that Prospero has understood the nature of power, that is, wanting to give it away and be done with it , these guys, their idea of revolution is the idea of seizing his power, so, “first, seize his books before you kill him” (thinking, that if they seize his books and get his understanding, they’ll get his understanding, but it’s a … or, if they want to get rid of his power, they have to burn his books). So they want to burn his books and Prospero wants to burn his books, both at the same time, which is really funny. So, the line there is: “Remember/First to possess his books for without them/He’s but a sot, as I am. nor hath not/One spirit to command they all do hate him/As rootedly as I. Burn but his books.” – So the book-burning thing is here, also
[“Burn but his books” – (still from the 1966 film of Ray Bradbury’s book, Fahrenheit 451, by Francois Truffaut]
And then, Calban proposes they can fuck his daughter, Miranda, who’s “more beautiful than Scycorax”
So, let’s see, we get on.. They go onward with their plot, and they approach Caliban’s hut, but Ariel plays a tune on a tabour and a pipe, and Trinculo says, “This is the tune of our catch, played by the picture/of Nobody.“ – (kind of pretty that) – “played by the picture/ of Nobody” – I think that line has been quoted endlessly – “This is the tune of our catch, played by the picture /of Nobody” – There is the notion – “the picture. of Nobody” – that was so tricky about that line.
However, it’s.. however, they suspect that there’s another magical thing that’s going on because they hear this music. And even Caliban, ..Caliban, with his imagination, recalls now the exquisite beauties that he’s seen and heard. And then, there’s this second greatest, or classic speech, in this play, and perhaps in all Shakespeare, from Caliban, talking about the phenomenal universe – “Be not afeared, the isle is full of noises,/Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not./ Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments/Will hum about my ears and sometimes voices…” [Allen makes two more attempts to “get it right”] – “Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments/Will hum about my ears and sometimes voices/That, if I then had waked after long sleep,/Will make me sleep again, and then, in dreaming,/The clouds methought would open and show riches/Ready to drop upon me that, when I waked, /I cried to dream again.”
– (Well, everybody’s had those kind of dreams, dreams of beautiful music, or riches, or sweetness, or love, or wet dreams that, when you woke, you “cried to dream again“, it was so beautiful.
[“Be not afeard the isle is full of noises,/Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not..” – Edmund Dulac (1908)]
And then Stephano’s interpretation of all that natural beauty is, “This will prove a brave kingdom to me, where I shall/have my music for nothing“ – “When Prospero is destroyed” (an aside from Caliban).
So they go on. Meanwhile, we go back to the (in Act 3, Scene 3), we go back to the aristocratic conspirators who are doing exactly the same thing, say(ing) “When will be the moment that we call kill Prospero?” and in line fourteen, Sebastian (aside to Antonio) – “The next advantage/Will we take thoroughly” – Antonio (aside to Sebastian) – “Let it be tonight/ For now they are oppressed with travel. They/will not or cannot, use such vigilance/As when they are fresh ” – (After they’ve done a lot of traveling, they’ll sleep heavily, so they can’t murder the King then)
But then, Ariel’s banquet appears, to be “a living drollery“ in front of them and bewitch them, and so, just as the low-born base conspirators were bewitched and bemused by the exquisite music of Ariel, so a banquet, giving food, with mummery and dumb-show comes before them, this sort of, like, amusing them with their desires for food – “A living drollery”, says Sebastian in line twenty-one – (It’s) kind of nice that when they see the “puppet-show with live figures”, (as it says in the note) … Okay – “Enter several strange Shapes, bringing in a banquet, they dance about it with gentle actions of salutations, and, inviting the King, etc, to eat..” (from the stage directions). And Gonzalo’s note on that (and ever the humanist philosopher and commentator), he says, “Who, though they are of monstrous shape, yet, note/Their manners are more gentle-kind than of /Our human generation you shall find/Many, nay, almost any.” – “Their manners are more gentle-kind, than of/ Our human generation you shall find/ Many, nay, almost any” – I like that “human generation“, “Our human generation“, meaning, not generation of.. what?..the ‘Fifties, ‘Sixties, ‘Seventies, (etc), but, “born of human”, generated into the human world. Funny pun and useful to know in the future. When people are talking about generations, you’ve always got that pun to deal with.. you know, like, what is it, the “Lost Generation?” (they all lost!). (If) you’re going to plot your own generation in the future, like the ‘Nineties [sic] (after) the ‘Eighties, you can make use of that use of ” generation”, you don’t have to fall into the old trap that it’s a ten-year shot.
Prospero (an aside) – “Praise in departing” – (a) very interesting phrase there, to understand how it is meant. The footnote gives it for you, I believe – “Praise in departing” meaning save your praise for the end” – Don’t start.. I mean, when you go praise, wait a bit, wait until the thing is finished before you start praising, or the old Sophocles notion – “call no man happy until.. the end of his life?, until he’s already dead?” – that is, “don’t jump the gun and think that everything is going to be alright” – “Praise in departing” – that’s page 39 – I mean line thirty-nine.
And then that contines with Ariel. Now the play is beginning to resolve itself, because Ariel gives a speech to Alonso, Sebastian, and all the plotters, and is their conscience, and reminds them exactly what all.. this whole confusion is about , line sixty-seven – “Remember -/, For that’s my business to you – that you three/ From Milan did supplant good Prospero;/ Exposed unto the sea, which hath requit it/Him and his innocent child, for which foul deed/The powers, delaying, not forgetting, have/Incensed the seas and shores…” – So she’s reminding them and bringing up their conscience. So now the play is going to come to an end, or is going to resolve itself (or) is beginning to resolve itself, because awareness has dawned through the imagination, and they’ve been informed what the purpose of the whole con–plot is
And also there is a phrase here which gives you.. in a sense.. which gives you the whole philosophy, psychological philosophy of the play. At the end of page 83, or, beginning with about line 77 (Act 3, Scene 3) – “…shall step by step attend/You and your ways, whose wraths to guard you from – “whose wraths to guard you from” – Whose wrath, whose waves.. whose karmic horrors to save you from, “whose wraths to guard you from -/, Which here, in this most desolate isle, else falls/Upon your heads – is nothing but heart-sorrow – So Shakespeare is proposing “heart-sorrow” as the emotional antidote, or the awareness antidote, to the “wraths” caused by their own envious actions. The medicine for wrathful envy resulting in violence is “heart-sorrow/ And a clear life ensuing“. And that’s (something) stated outright and is a theme, and, as you see it integrated, you see that it’s integral in the play, it’s actually quite beautiful of Shakespeare to have announced his intentions – “heart-sorrow/ And a clear life ensuing“. I suppose it’s his own life’s lesson.
Alonso recognizes the tone here and said later in the page, “It did bass my trespass” –
line ninety-nine. “O, it is monstrous, monstrous;/Methought the billows spoke and told me of it/The winds did sing it to me, and the thunder,/The deep and dreadful organ-pipe, pronounced/The name of Prosper: it did bass my trespass” (“bass my trepass” meaning “proclaim in deep tones”, or give, like, a ground bass announcement of the trespass, or error that he made before in usurping ..in allowing the usurpation of Prospero’s throne – “It did bass my trespass” – “Therefore my son i’ the ooze is bedded and/ I’ll seek him deeper than e’er plummet sounded/And with him lie there muddied” – (Well, recognizing his errors, gets him suicidal, and he wants to go down into the ooze with his son) – “ooze“, incidentally is nice. I think Herman Melville loved the way Shakespeare used the word, “ooze“. And so you have at the end of Billy Budd, undersea also, the sea ooze that is.
Well, of course, in Shelley, there’s a historical lineage for acknowledgement of this oozy sea, ooze at the bottom of the sea that Shakespeare discovered, so Shelley said “..the oozy woods that wear/ The sapless foliage of the ocean..” in the “Ode to the West Wind“ – “the oozy woods that wear/ The sapless foliage of the ocean..” – and Melville says, “Sentry are you there? Just ease those darbies at the wrist. And roll me over fair! I am sleep and the oozy weeds about me twist.” (at the end of Billy and the darbies, the last line of “Billy Budd”) ” – “Roll me over fair”.. ” ” Just ease those derbies at the wrist and roll me over fair! I am sleep and the oozy weeds about me twist.” So everybody’s got the “ooze” from Shakespeare – the oozy blues! – Use the undersea-depth blues
.Then, also, “deeper than ever plummet sounded” was interesting, because, later on, he’s going to go and commit suicide,”deeper than ever plummet” – “plummet” is a lead weight that you, you know, that the sailor hangs down into the ocean to measure the depth – “plummet” – “plummet weight” – everybody know it? – or the plummet that the.. I believe the plumber uses the plummet – Plumbing, plumbing the ocean with a plummet – “plumb the depths” – Pardon me?
AG: Plumb-line. So a “plummet” is the weight of lead at the end of the plumb-line. Later on, we’ll see Shakespeare saying that “deeper than ever did plummet sound“) he’ll throw his magic book (or, his wand, I forgot) . So, just as the “crown” repeats itself a couple of times, the “plummet” repeats itself a couple of times – the ocean, the plummet, the bottom of the ocean
[Prospero in The Tempest – John Massey Wright (1777-1866)]
[Audio for the above can be heard here, starting at approximately fifty-and-a-half minutes in and continuing until the end of the tape]