Basil Bunting’s Lectures on Poetic Origins – 2 (The One-Eyed Ford)

Student: Is the “one-eyed Ford” something you just made up now?

AG: No , the “one-eyed Ford” is a  famous American-Indian twentieth-century.. It’s a great line! – It’s one of the great lines in America .. of the, as-yet, unacademicized poetry. The many many versions of the “one-eyed Ford” song (South-West – Oklahoma, actually – I heard it last year… last heard it (with Harry Smith) in Anadarko Oklahoma) – “My one-eyed Ford”! – It’s a great line!

So… I don’t know. He [Basil Bunting] was suggesting.. each step is measure, each step is a measure, measure (of) the sounds that the body makes in time, that, with each step, from each step, you can measure the sounds that the body makes in time, as it steps. So the drums are..  (they) give you the ratio of those sounds, whether there’s spaces in-between, or how they relate to each other.

Student: There has been something written too on the relationship between the beat, drum sounds…

AG:  …to the heart?

Student: ..and trance, (the) inducing (of) trance. 

AG: Yeah. He’s just trying to figure what would be the first evidences of… Actually, what was interesting was measure – the idea of measuring, poetry as measured speech, so he was trying to find, what is the earliest measure?  The angle that he’s coming from – what is poetry (as distinct from prose)? –  and he was saying, having something to do, maybe, with the idea of repeated patterns of measured statement, measured articulation. I mean, some kind of measure – like syllable, or accent, or..  stress. (He’s also saying we shouldn’t use the word “accent” for accent, we should use “stress”).  It’s very sort of original, original, interesting, and pragmatic ideas that he had. So the measurement of the ratio between the sounds that the body makes, he was saying, would be the earliest, or would be the origin of poetic.. what do you call it? ..the anatomy (if you wanted to make a poetic anatomy of the dance, (it) would be the measure of the sounds the body makes while dancing, which would suggest drums, then accompanied by grunts and yowls, and then the grunts and yowls (turn into) words). So he was saying that a more or less orderly measure of time, a definite ratio of one time to another,  is common. An orderly measure of time is common to dance, to music, and to poetry – that’s the common element – an orderly measure of time, or a definite ratio of one time to another (time, being, like, the ratio of the sounds that the body makes in dancing). And music would spring out of dancing. Drums, being the first music, then, later, other instruments would come, earlier… earlier instruments, or sticks, song-sticks, like [the Aboriginal song sticks] I have..

to be continued

[Audio for the above can be heard  herebeginning at approximately twenty-and-a-half minutes in and concluding at approximately twenty-four-and-a-quarter minutes in]

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