Student: Can I ask you a little bit of an off-the-wall question?
AG: Yes.. Why don’t we leave this time open now for just general…
Student: In our (Ted) Berrigan class tonight, he said this comment that, “The time of the composition is the time of the composition”…. (I’ve been trying to understand that) and I’ve been trying all night. And he says “Well, you should know that with every poem that you read, (before you start out).
AG: The time of the composition is the time of the … Read More
[“Oh!” ( the mouth open-wide, a “wonder-breath” – “Ah! – “Go!” – (Allen Ginsberg & Peter Orlovsky re Ezra Pound & Edmund Waller) – 1979 – Photograph by Desdemone Bardin]
AG: Well, if you.. I ‘d like to read that whole thing [Ezra Pound’s “Envoi“] once in.. just through, to get the variance from one stanza to another, because it seems that it’s surging, a very delicate surge from stanza to stanza that really concludes in a nice way – and it’s great music. In fact, why don’t we do it together? this one.. … why don’t … Read More
AG: Then (Ezra) Pound (on page one thousand and six). He thinks it [Waller’s “Song”} ‘s so good that it’s his high-water mark, so he wants a... And, in Pound, it’s amazing, it’s one of the few cases in the history of English poetry where somebody made an imitation that’s really just as good as the original, because Pound’s “Envoi” of 1919 is actually as beautiful, I think, as the Waller [“Go, lovely rose“] –
So “Go dumb-born book’ – but was.. it.. you know.. Pound’s specialty was this long.. was quantitative meter,
AG: Well, so we have “Go lovely..” and I was thinking – “Tell her that wastes her time and me” – “Tell her that wastes” (da da da da) – “her time and me” – “Tell her that wastes her time and me” – seems to be two halves, equally cadenced – “Tell her that wastes her time and me” – and that would be da da da-da – That’s the epitritus tertius – “Tell her that wastes her time and me.” If you were going to emphasize the more… not so much.. if you were going to be dwelling
AG: Well, it’s not that that you need to be able to understand it [Greek prosody] to write a poem. It’s not perverting your speech to get those rhythms. Rather, it is that speech does have those rhythms, and that you can follow the cadences with those rhythms, that when we were taught in drama-school and high-school primary rhythms, it was very rare that anything was taught beyond the four variants of iamb, trochee, anapest and dactyl. – that seemed to be the range of the English ear, or awareness of rhythm, or American high-school awareness of rhythm, … Read More
[Allen Ginsberg, San Francisco, 1956 – Photograph by Harry Redl]
Allen Ginsberg continues, lecturing his Naropa students on metrics
AG: “Moloch who’s eyes….. da da-da da, da-da da da , da-da da ,da-da da-da da, da-da.. And if you have a gang of choruses going bop-pa-pa-bom, bop-pa-pa-bom, you’ve got something very powerful going on And so, in.. without knowing it, just intuitively, I was using choriambic and variations of choriambic meters, in the Moloch section of “Howl” – “Moloch-who’s-eyes-are-a-thous-and-blind-wind-ows” – (da-da da da-da da da-da da da-da) – “thousand-blind-windows”, “thousand-blind-wind..” “Moloch-who’s-eyes-are-a-thous-and-blind-wind-ows” – So it’s a combination of choriambic … Read More
Allen’s pedagogical insistence on quantative prosody, on the minutae of classical prosody, was something he came back to again and again with his students at Naropa (see, for example – one of many examples – here). In transcription, it makes, perhaps, for some somewhat tedious transcript – to hear the subtle and various distinctions he’s making, it really becomes necessary to listen closely to the audio (happily, here available). Allen does employ here a somewhat unique teaching method to lighten things up – … Read More