George Herbert – 9 (“Love” – 2)

[Portrait of George Herbert in Bemerton by William Dyce (1806-1864)]

Allen Ginsberg continues to examine George Herbert’s poem “Love”

Student: Allen, isn’t there a sense, in that last bit, of a change from “My dear” to “I will serve you”?

AG: Yes, I was wondering what that means. I don’t understand that.

Student: Well, he seems to be feeling unworthy even though he’s..

AG: Oh yes, he’s been saying that all along

Student: He takes the heat off, Love takes the heat off. Obviously you’re worthy to be here because whatever sin you brought it was paid for by Christ anyhow..

AG: Right

Student. ….that he thought, as far as that goes.. So, he says, “Well, I will serve”.

AG: Serve, yeah.

Student: Serve – he seems to be a guest so you don’t have to a servant, be a guest.

AG: Oh yes – why?

Student: Why?

AG: Yes.

Student: It’s all up to you.

AG: Okay, but how… If you were to read it with that sense, then you would have to .. Let’s see, reading it aloud with that specific sense then, if you could… [Allen begins reading] – “Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame./Go where it doth deserve./ And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?/.My dear, then I will serve..” – ( if you read it that way, “then I will serve”, sort of getting into it) – “You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:/So I did sit and eat.” – (You could do it that way, it depends how you wanted to interpret it, but that sounds like a good interpretation). I couldn’t figure out – “Then I will serve” – I couldn’t figure out what that meant.

Student: I’ll do it I and I will serve.

AG: I’ll be pressed into service. Yeah, yeah.

Student: And you know, in a relationship you would take that attitude

AG Yeah, yeah, “I will serve” yeah

Student: (..but then he’s reprimanded again, after he’s said it..)

AG: Well, yeah he’s reprimanded (to the point of saying) come in, come in, more and more take my.. but there’s also “get down there and eat my…cunt .. you know…I mean, there’s that also on the side. that he’s going to taste the meat, or his meat, or somebody’s meat, you know.

Peter Orlovsky: His chair

AG: Chair – C-H-A-I-R in French means “flesh” – in a chair – “In the chair” –

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately thirty-seven-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately thirty-nine-and-a-half minutes in]

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