George Herbert Selections

A little out-of-order this – but here’s Allen’s George Herbert selection – remember George Herbert?)  (and some concluding remarks to his (April 1980) Naropa class)

AG: Okay, so next, I would have… (George) Herbert (page 285), check out Mr Herbert, similar to Herrick, as interesting as Herrick, but it’s a little more laden with God there, but some very amazing emotions come through, particularly, “The Collar”‘ (check out “The Collar”, the form), Check out the form of “Easter Wings” on page 285 as a precursor of shaped poetry, of what do you call it nowadays?  the…Concrete…pardon me? – … Read More

George Herbert – 10 – (“Misery” and “The Quiddity”)

[ “Man is but grasse/He knows it -. fill the glasse…” (George Herbert)]

AG: Okay, well, there’s a couple other poems (of George Herberts) that while we have time I’d like to check out with you. In the (W.H.) Auden anthology (that is to say, a book that I’ve mentioned a number of times to you as one of the great anthologies –Poets of the English Language Volume 2 – Marlowe to Marvell, Viking Press, there is “Misery”, a little thing called “Misery”, which has this very nice refrain. The whole poem I don’t want to go … Read More

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 … Read More

George Herbert – 8 (“Love” – 1)

[Rembrandt Van Rijn, “The Supper at Emmaus”  (1648)]

AG: So, (George Herbert’s)  “Love Bade Me Welcome”

“Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back Guilty of dust and sin./But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack/ From my first entrance in,/Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning, If I lacked any thing.” – (that’s pretty good, actually, he’s gotten into Love (whatever it is) and he’s gone slack, or he’s lost his.. lost the hardness of his impulse!)- “observing me grow slack/ From my first entrance in” – (for a divine poem, this is pretty raunchy, actually -except, it’s so … Read More

George Herbert -7 (“Death” – 2)

Allen Ginsberg and his Naropa students continue their discussion about George Herbert’s metaphysical poem, “Death”

Student; I love the reasoning (in the poem)….

AG: Well, it’s not so much reasoning. It’s just making up, you know, some funny ideas about death

Student: (Yeah, I know – (our close) relationship to death)

AG ; Yeah, well, it’s going to get worse before we’re out of the thicket. It seems to accompany the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, the mills of thought begin grinding. This is.. what? Sixteen thirty-nine? . It’s the beginning, they’re exploiting America, you know, their bringing all … Read More

George Herbert – 6 – (“Death” – 1)

Allen Ginsberg on George Herbert continues

AG: However, when you get to “Death” on the next page. There. you get something almost Shakespearean. It’s so good, as far as its… And here what he’s done is got a stanza form which is – “Death thou wast once an un-couth hid-eous thing” – (ten) – “Nothing but bones” – (four) – “The sad effect of sadder groans” – (eight) – “Thy mouth was open, but thou couldst not sing” – (ten) . So each stanza’s ten-four-eight-ten, in terms of the number of syllables. I haven’t analyzed it for what actual meter … Read More

George Herbert – 5 (Discipline)

[“Throw away thy rod/Throw away thy wrath..”]

Allen Ginsberg on George Herbert continues 

AG: So, (his poem), Discipline, (page two-ninety-eight) –  Let’s see.. Yeah, here’s another, where he wrote..  where the short line is in the third – (rod/wrath/God/path, desire/bent/aspire/consent) – “(The) Discipline” – “Throw away thy rod,/ Throw away thy wrath: /O my God,/Take the gentle path./ For my heart’s desire/ Unto thine is bent:/  I aspire/ To a full consent./ Not a word or look/ I affect to own,/ But by book,/ And thy book alone…” – There’s such an interesting cadence there, an interesting way to..constructing … Read More

George Herbert – 4 (The Collar)

 

Allen Ginsberg on George Herbert continues

“The Collar” [by George Herbert] – (page two-ninety-four) –  is..  is an odd one, because it’s totally bhakti, totally devotional, (a real prayer, but it’s a rare one, in a sense…he… Herbert occasionally breaks through with an absolutely straight emotional and clear heart thought and this is one of his famous breakthroughs of that kind.).

So I’d like to read it just to get the tone of (this) last compared to the rest….   He’s mad – “I struck a board and cried – No more” – “I struck the board, and cried, … Read More

George Herbert – 3

[George Herbert stained-glass window, in the village church of Bishop Burton, East Riding, Yorkshire, designed by Charles Eamer Kempe (1837-1907)]

AG: (George Herbert’s) “The Windows” has got one funny line in it – (page) two eighty-eight – the second line – “Lord, how can man preach thy eternal word?/ He is a brittle crazy glass” – that’s a nice one – “He is a brittle crazy glass” – “crazy” here is here defined as “flawed”, they say – “ Man is a brittle crazy glass” – Just an interesting little snippet I thought.

“Lord, how can … Read More

George Herbert – 2

(George Herbert’s) “Prayer” – Well, there’s only just one great line in that, but we’ll read the whole thing anyway. Anybody want to try and read Herbert? – [to Student] -Scott? (sic)

Student: (Scott) (I don’t have the poem in the book)

AG: Oh you don’t have the book. Anybody enjoy reading aloud? –  [to Student] – Have you done it before?

Student: Yes

AG: Who hasn’t? Who hasn’t read aloud here? Who hasn’t exercised their vocal chords? –  [to Student] – You haven’t have you? – Just… Yeah Okay, why don’t you try reading it “ – Who’s religious? … Read More