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

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 gets squeezed..English poetry gets squeezed more and more into this … Read More

More James Shirley

Allen Ginsberg continues his 1980 Naropa lectures on classic English poetry

AG: – Thomas Carew –  this is really pretty.. (a poem) by Carew..  lets see..

Oh no, before we get to Carew, there is another little poem by James Shirley (because that one is so good that I thought there must be other things that he’d written that are interesting). There’s another one called “The Might of Death”, another little lyric on death, which takes off from that – “then boast no more your mighty deeds” – But  “The Might of Death” – from Cupid and Death – … Read More

Marianne Moore (on Eternality)

[Marianne Moore ( 1887-1972)]

AG: Then there’s a poem by Marianne Moore about (James Shirley’s poem) “Only the actions of the just/ Smell sweet, and blossom in the dust”) – Do you know that? Has anybody heard that? It’s from Marianne Moore.  [ [“Beauty is everlasting/and dust is for a time”] –  I think she paraphrased it [paraphrased Shirley]…Where is Marianne Moore in here? …(Page) ten-sixteen? … Yeah, it’s at the very end of the poem, I think  (if it’s got it in here)… [Allen keeps searching for the poem in his anthology] –  No, I … Read More

James Shirley – 2 (“The Triumph of Death”)

[“The Triumph of Death” – by Pieter Bruegel, the Elder ( 1525-1569) – oil on panel, 117 cms x 162 cms (1562-3) – collection of Museo del Prado]

AG: [reading James Shirley’s “A Dirge”]  – “The glories of our blood and state/Are shadows, not substantial things;/There is no armor against fate;/Death lays his icy hand on kings./Scepter and crown/Must tumble down/And in the dust be equal made/With the poor crooked scythe and spade./  Some men with swords may reap the field/And plant fresh laurels where they kill,/But their strong nerves at last must yield;/They tame but one … Read More

James Shirley – 1

[James Shirley (1596-1666)]

AG: Then the next death poem is this great thing by James Shirley which we have in our agenda, page three-hundred, which… this poem is one of my top ten in the English language for really beautiful cadence, for sharpness and abruptness and clarity of idea, and for interesting stanza form. And it seems to be a song from a book by.. I’ve forgot what Shirley’s play was.. I have it somewhere.. somebody look it up, find out where it comes from – (page) four-twenty-seven in Auden, [the Auden-Pearson anthology] he’d give the provenance… [Allen discovers … Read More

Allen Ginsberg’s Rhyming Assignment

Allen Ginsberg’s 1980 Naropa class transcript continues

Student; Did you ever do.. have a go [at Echo Poems]?

AG: No, never did one myself but it’d be interesting to do. Should I assign it to class?

Student: You could..

AG: You’re the T.A. (teaching assistant). The assignments.. the class assignments, we have, by the way, I said I’d get to.. was.. are,/ so far,/ .not very profuse, or exact, or neat/, or complete/. You haven’t hammered your stammer/ to make it exact or compact. So, what I would suggest/ would be you be the guest/ of the muse/ and … Read More