Allen Ginsberg on John Donne’s “The Ecstacy” – continues
AG: “This ecstacy does unperplex/…and tell us what we love” – What “unperplex” means is that this ecstasy that we experience clears up, clears up the mystery. It wasn’t sex that we loved necessarily, directly. We had not seen before what was moving us when we thought it was just sex – “We see we saw not what did move” – before – (see-saw – that’s supposedly an example of (John) Donne‘s great wit – “We see we saw…” – da-da da-da – funny double-talk, like intellectual double-talk – but it’s funny, actually, syntactically, it’s funny, charming) – “But as all several souls contain/Mixture of things, they know not what…” (So, seperate souls, that is people who were separated but inclined towards each other, don’t know what kind of mixture they have together until they join). Love, takes those mixed-up souls and mixes them in with one another, with each other, again, makes them one thing. [“And makes both one’] – Now, “..each this and that” – but what does “this and that” refer to? – Say, a seperate you and me, as well, I suppose as a body and soul – or sex and whatever other ethereal feeling there is. you know, love that goes on – A “transplant”, then, (remember, which he calls “a single violet”), and, apparently, this violet, or this flower, or being, or love, is bigger than what was before or “redoubles still and multiplies”). Then, then it gets a little clearer – “When love with one another so/ Interinanimates two souls” (so you’ve got to get the “so/interanimates, so you have a break in…
AG: Interin.. Interinaninates. Yes. so/interinanimates. Now what does..?.. Inter-in/so animates? – okay.. Inanimate. Animate and Inanimate. So “Interinanimate”, is that what ‘s the..word?..Would that be like the line…”the sepulchral statues lay(ing)”? – “whilst our souls negotiated there”?
AG: “When love with one another so/ Interinanimates two souls”
Student: Two prepositions – “an” and “in” – it’s like saying “mixing in”
AG: Yeah, okay… rather than “animate” and “inanimate”
Student; I couldn’t understand why he had two prepositions before “animate”
AG: I never noticed the he had two of them . I always said “interanimate”
AG: I always read it as “interanimate” – the last thirty years!
Student: Well, there’s a little extra
AG: Well, then it could then mean..it could then mean – “inanimate” might there mean “excite to animation”, or it might mean…. We’ll figure it out as we go along. Is everybody following this perplexity?. So that’s why Donne is called the metaphysical poet – because he composes all these mental perplexities that you’ve got to figure out. And in the (19)40’s there was a whole branch of poetical criticism and teaching called ‘the New Criticism“, in which, based on this kind of text, specialized in very witty and intelligent expositions and exegeses of exactly what was meant by looking up the original Platonic books which..from which Donne and others took their language and actually tried to explain it in terms of the philosophy and the geography..explain these..these phrasings in terms of philosophy and geography and science of the day.
Student: Allen; do you remember the poem by (E.E.Cummings and….
AG: Yeah..very similar rhythms. Cummings was of that time, actually, when a lot of people were beginning to read Donne
[Audio for the above can be heard here. beginning at approximately sixty-five-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately sixty-nine-and-a-quarter minutes in]