A Brief Anthology of English Lyric

Allen at Naropa on “Basic Poetics” continuing from here
AG: So we’ll go back to Edmund Waller or do a bit more of (John) Milton. But I would like to get to Edmund Waller for a while, for a brief while. Is that alright? Is that… “Go, lovely rose”  (on page three-oh-five). And I’ll read that, and see how it works. I think of all the little lyrics we’ve gone over, this was the one like “Ask Me No More..” and “scepter and crown” (“Ask me no more..” was Carew)  – “Scepter and crown/Must crumble down/ And … 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 varieties..it gets squeezed..English poetry gets squeezed more and more into this … Read More

Catching Up – Ben Jonson, John Donne)

[Ben Jonson (1572-1637) & John Donne ( 1572-1631)

1980 -Allen was absent and unable to teach one week, so poet Dick Gallup took over his Naropa “Basic Poetics’ class. Allen, on his return, was eager to find out what happened.

AG: What happened with Dick (Gallup)? How was the class?

Student: It was funny

AG: What did you take up?

Student: Everything.. (John Donne),  (Ben) Jonson….

AG: Did he do the Ben Jonson poem on Shakespeare?

Student: No, no, he gave us some background about their lives.

AG: Good, because I don’t know anything about that.

Student He gave … Read More

John Donne – 15 (Conclusion)

Allen Ginsberg on John Donne concludes

AG: There is a poem of (John) Donne‘s which is not in the book which I would like to lay out. I think it may be his last poem or toward his last poem, his last, death, poem – “A Hymn to God The Father”, which doesn’t seem to be in this book, though it’s one of his best, in terms of puns. There is a late poem on death, at the end here (of your book), “Hymn To God In My Sickness, but I’ll read this other one because … Read More

Two Experiences (John Donne – 14)

[Jindra Noewi – “Lovers In Eternal Kiss” (2008)]

From a March 1980 classroom, Allen Ginsberg and Naropa students discuss John Donne and the experience of love, ecstasy, and hallucinations – continued from yesterday

AG: No, it says that they’re one  [the lovers in John Donne’s “The Ecstasy”]…they become one. Well, maybe everybody’s experience of love is different, but I’ve had the opportunity in the last few days (and other times too) to just lie a long time looking into someone’s eyes, you know, for hours preceeding the actual physical love-making, and there’s a kind of ethereal deliciousness that goes … Read More

“Common Hallucination” – (John Donne – 13)

[August Natterer (Neter) (1868-1933) – “My Eyes At The Time of Revelation”, (1911-13)]

Allen Ginsberg on John Donne continues from yesterday.

Student: Is he (John Donne) known as a mystic poet like (William) Blake?

AG: No, more of an intellectual. Some mystic towards the end but more..more, I guess..religious… divine, divine..

Student: In the footnote number eight (sic),, they use..(they say) that with “The Ecstasy“, the title. it refers to the standing out, and then the….specifically..

AG: Standing out of the body.

Student: ..mysticism. I got the impression in the first part, with all that “see/saw” and in earlier … Read More

Body & Soul – John Donne continues (John Donne -12)

[The Reunion of the Soul & the Body – William Blake – Etching – 296 mm x 232 mm – illustration to Robert Blair’s “The Grave” (1808) ]

Allen Ginsberg’s comments on John Donne’s “The Ecstasy” continues.

AG: So…. “That abler soul which hence doth flow/Defects of loneliness controls” – (controls the defect of being lonely – it’s just an inversion in the syntax there that makes it a little confusing – that love, that the abler soul controls loneliness’s defects ) – “We then, who are this new soul, know” – (in other words,, they get smart,, they … Read More

John Donne continues – 11

Allen Ginsberg on John Donne’s “The Ecstacy” – continues

AG:  “This ecstacy does unperplex/…and tell us what we love” – What “unperplex” means is that  this ecstasy that we experience clears up, clears up the mystery. It wasn’t sex that we loved necessarily, directly. We had not seen before what was moving us when we thought it was just sex – “We see we saw not what did move” – before – (see-saw – that’s supposedly an example of (John) Donne‘s great wit – “We see we saw…” – da-da da-da – funny double-talk, like intellectual double-talk – but … Read More

John Donne continues – 10

[Gian Lorenzo Bernini – Santa Teresa in estasi (Saint Teresa in Ecstasy)  (1647-52) (detail), Comaro Chapel, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome]

Allen Ginsberg on John Donne’s “Ecstasy” continues  – part 3

AG:  Okay so.. The only means we had to make us one was holding hands, and the ony propagation, or, you know, orgasm propagation, we had was pictures in our eyes. And so…where does it go on – “our souls” had gone out of their bodies and were hung between the two of them (on the top of page two forty one) – And while our … Read More

John Donne continues – 9

[Gustav Klimt – The Kiss (Lovers)  (1907-08) – oil and gold leaf on canvas, 180cm x 180 cms, Osterreichische Gaerlerie Belvedere, Vienna]

Allen Ginsberg on John Donne’s “Ecstacy” continues – part 2

AG:  [continues reading from the poem] – “Where, like a pillow on a bed/A pregnant bank swell’d up to rest/The violet’s reclining head,/Sat we two, one another’s best./Our hands were firmly cemented/With a fast balm, which thence did spring;/Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread/Our eyes upon one double string/;So to’intergraft our hands, as yet/ Was all the means to make us one,/And pictures in our eyes to … Read More