Edmund Bolton’s Palinode

[“As vanisheth the light-blown bubble ever…..’]

AG: We’re way off the subject. ..which was.. there was a really great poem I wanted to lay out, which I put out,  by Henry King, (which is like the “Palinode“.) – We’ll get back to this (the “Palinode”) –  I mean, has anybody got some heavy thing that they want to continue it on?

Edmund Bolton’s “Palinode” (on page two-seventy), which sets forth a great theme that recurs through all English poetry and also a great logical way of handling the theme – and I   would like it because it’s absolutely identical with the Buddhist First (Noble Truth).. (the)  three marks of existence, of Buddhism, and yet it’s recognizeable classic English thought and English poetry and English heart-thought.

“As withereth the primrose by the river,/As fadeth summer’s sun from gliding fountains,/As vanisheth the light-blown bubble ever,/As melteth snow upon the mossy mountains:
So melts, so vanishes, so fades, so withers/The rose, the shine, the bubble and the snow
Of praise, pomp, glory, joy – which short life gathers –/Fair praise, vain pomp, sweet glory, brittle joy./The withered primrose by the mourning river,/The faded summer’s sun from weeping fountains,/The light-blown bubble, vanishéd for ever,/The molten snow upon the naked mountains,/Are emblems that the treasures we up-lay/Soon wither, vanish, fade and melt away.”

It’s very logical. It’s a little abstract but the images are clear and pretty and precise. It’s all put together – “the rose”/”praise” (in the middle, lines seven and eight, (or) six and seven) –
“the rose” relates to “praise” , “the shine” relates to the “pomp”, “the bubble” relates to the “glory”, “the snow” relates to the “joy”. And he goes again – “fair praise”/”fair rose”, “vain pomp”/”vain shine, ”   “sweet bubble”/”sweet glory”,  “brittle joy (brittle joy/snow) – So a funny little association, like a  little…like a crossword-puzzle almost. But that “light-blown bubble” – the “light-blown bubble” then, ever vanishes . And then he reverses  it,

“For as the snow, whose lawn did overspread/The ambitious hills, which giant-like did threat/To pierce the heaven with their aspiring head,’/Naked and bare doth leave their craggy seat…” – (Are you following it? – the logic- I mean,  what he’s saying -it’s just something simple,  the snow melts and the mountains’ crag is naked)  –  “Whenas the bubble, which did empty fly/The dalliance of the undiscernéd wind,/On whose calm rolling waves it did rely,/Hath shipwreck made, where it did dalliance find…” (- the bubble – shipwrecked where it was playful before in the wind – dallying) – “/And when the sunshine, which dissolved the snow,/Coloured the bubble with a pleasant vary,.” ( – spectrum or variation) – “/And made the rathe (the early) – “(and made the early) and timely primrose grow,/Swarth”. ( – swarthy, dark, clouds)  – “clouds withdrawn (which longer time do tarry)/ –Oh, what is praise, pomp, glory, joy, but so/ As shine by fountains, bubbles, flowers or snow?”

 Those are classical images of transitoriness – the fountain, the bubble, the flower and the snow. And I think there is a traditional Buddhist sutra (the early Hinayana vipassana sutras which talk about transitoriness – the life of man compared to a dew-drop, a bubble, a rainbow… any Buddhist students here? … what other?.. do you know the one I’m talking about?  – Well, there’s a big classic Buddhist sermon by Buddha, which has this whole series of comparisons of this human life to a rainbow, a bubble, a ball of snow, a dew-drop, a flower, a cloud, a..

Peter Orlovsky: Shower?

AG: Yeah, sudden shower, you know,  afternoon shower, a ray of light,  smoke, mist,  you know, everything that’s transitory and ephemeral.

Peter Orlovsky:  Light?  moonlight?

AG: I think that’s been used.  Okay, so that’s the.. do you know this sort of poetry?  Has anybody ever seen poems like this? Yeah, it’s really pretty.

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately sixty-one-and-three-quarter minutes and concluding at approximately sixty-seven minutes 

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