The Decline of English Poetry

[William Cowper (1731-1800) – “… William Cowper, who was completely crazy …”]

Allen’s been discussing the poems of Robert Herrick

AG: There’s a nice, … but then, something that happens now, from here on out. It started. You got a shot of it in (John) Donne with that masochistic religion, and the interiorization of the spirit into some kind of deus ex machina outside, on the other side of the clouds, that’s supposed to come and rape your mind. And then, from then on, there’s all these different varieties..it gets squeezed..English poetry gets squeezed more and more into this … Read More

Herbert Huncke

From Ann Douglas’ recent New York Times review of  The Best Minds of My Generation

“Ginsberg also makes room for Herbert Huncke, whom he calls the “originator” of Beatness. An addict, gay hustler and petty thief, seeking, in his words, the freedom “to become more obscure,” Huncke introduced Ginsberg, Kerouac and Burroughs to the mid-1940s underworld of Times Square. In a bold stroke of canon-stretching, Ginsberg pronounces his sketches of the lower depths, published almost by accident and innocent of literary allusion, “classics.” In celebrating the unlettered Huncke, Ginsberg was suggesting that professionals may have more to learn from … Read More

Diane di Prima continues

[The Seven Joys of Mary (1480), Hans Memling (c.1433-1495) ]

Diane di  Prima – continuing from yesterday

DD: Okay, part five of this poem [ “Loba‘]  was going to be –  [(it) makes me nervous when people take notes] – part five was going to be kind of.. was going to be a study of the Mary legend, you know. based on… partly started of from a Hans Memling painting – The Seven Joys of The Virgin – But before Mary showed up all these other ladies showed up first and I did a whole lot of other … Read More

Diane di Prima

[Diane di Prima, Boulder, Colorado, 1987 -Photograph by Allen Ginsberg – (c) Estate of Allen Ginsberg]

It’s Diane di  Prima’s birthday. She’s 83. We send her greetings on her birthday and celebrate with this remarkable vintage tape (it’s another of the Bay Area Writers series at Novato, California – see here, here and here) , June 2, 1976, she reads from (and comments on) her epic masterpiece, Loba ( as well as reading, at the end, several sections from the earlier  Revolutionary Letters).

 DD: I’d like to start by reading parts of this long thing that’s five … Read More

Allen Ginsberg Reading at St Marks Poetry Project 1977

[Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell, St Mark’s Church, February 23, 1977. Photo: Martin Wechselblatt]

We featured one, from the extraordinary trove of recordings of Allen readings, last week, from PennSound (from the Robert Creeley collection – 1971 at Intersection, San Francisco). Here‘s another, six years later- from the St Mark’s Poetry Project in New York. The occasion was a now-legendary coupling of Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell (it was on this occasion that Lowell was memorably heckled by Gregory Corso). Allen reads a variety of works, referencing his recent visit to Australia, his Vajrayana Buddhist Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 327

[Allen Ginsberg, Lucien Carr, and William S Burroughs, New York City 1953. (c)The Allen Ginsberg Estate]

Ann Douglas‘  rapturous New York Times review of The Best Minds of My Generation – “Professor Ginsberg’s Notes on the Beats”  leads off this Friday’s Round-Up  – “In a marvelous feat of editing and reorganization, Bill Morgan, Ginsberg’s longtime bibliographer, biographer and friend, has condensed the 100 or so lectures Ginsberg gave in the five courses he taught on the Beat Generation between 1977 and 1994, totaling almost 2,000 pages of transcripts, into a compact and often spellbinding text, preserving intact the … Read More

Herrick’s Ode To Ben Jonson

AG: Then this Ode for him (Ben Jonson),  [by Robert Herrick] (on page two seventy-nine), is in an even funnier little stanza-form, and it’s real down-home, mentioning the bars that they drink at and the places that they went to to make their poetry. – “Ah Ben! / Say how, or when/ Shall we thy guests/Meet at those lyric feasts/ Made at the Sun,/ The Dog, the Triple Tun?/Where we such clusters had/ As made us nobly wild, not mad” – (“nobly wild not mad”, that’s a good definition – “crazy wisdom” – “nobly wild … Read More

Herrick and Tom o’ Bedlam

[“All the sprites that stands by the naked man/In the book of moons, defend ye” – Zodiac Man (illustration from a 1580 Almanac)]

AG: Then, I don’t know if you remember,.. there’s an interesting rhythm here, like the “Tom o’ Bedlam” lyric that I read last year – “From the hag and hungry goblin/ that into rags would rend ye/ All the sprites that stands by the naked man/ In the book of moons, defend ye”, “That of your five sound senses/ You never be forsaken/ Nor wander from your selves with Tom/ Abroad to beg your bacon.” – … Read More

Robert Herrick – Prayer to Ben Jonson

 

 

Robert Herrick (1591-1674) and Ben Jonson (1572-1637)

AG; “Prayer to Ben Jonson” –  6-5 6-5, 6-5 6-5 syllables. all about syllables and verse – “When I a verse…” (that’s page 277) – “When I a verse shall make,/Know I have pray’d thee, (not “to thee”, he didn’t want six-six, he wanted six-five)

“When I a verse shall make,/Know I have pray’d thee/For old religion’s sake,/Saint Ben to aid me. ” – (see what you can get if you just cut out a syllable, I mean, a funny syncopation) -“For old religion’s sake,/Saint Ben to aid me. ” … Read More

Herrick’s Daffodils

AG: And then there’s a very nice one “To Daffodils”.. in term of the meter count, no, in terms of the syllable count. Dig what he’s got there –

“Fair Daffodils, we weep to see (eight syllables) /You haste away so soon (six syllables)/ As yet the early-rising sun (eight syllables)/Has not attain’d his noon (six syllables)/ Stay, stay, (two syllables)/ Until the hasting day (six syllables)/Has run (two syllables)/ But to the even-song (six syllables) / And, having pray’d together, we (eight syllables)/Will go with you along. (six (syllables)

We have short time to stay, as you, (eight)/ … Read More