John Donne (continues – 7)

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[ John Donne (1572-1631)]

AG : “A Valediction..(Forbidding Mourning)”  (by John Donne) (page two-thirty-nine). That was like… here you find a..the acme of Donne in his use of  images from cartography, compasses and spheres, and.. and I think that, like, is nowadays you have heavy-metal comix, or (William) Burroughs‘ poetry which has a lot of space-age imagery (android space-age martian heavy-metal). So, in those days, because of the adventures in America reported back, there’s a lot of.. everybody was hung up on the sort of apocalyptic imagery of a New World, and sailing, and making maps. There’s a … Read More

John Donne (continues – 6)

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Allen Ginsberg on John Donne’s “Sweetest love, I do not go..” continued

Peter Orlovsky: .”Thus by frightened deaths to die.” – What does that mean?

AG: “Feigned death”

Peter Orlovsky: .”Thus by… .feign’d death?

AG: Imitation death – to feign is to imitate. Death…incidentally, death throughout (not throughout) but in some of these erotic or love poems by Donne, “a little death”, is an orgasm, often, or it’s the local… I think there’s a little footnote on it – [Allen looks to the footnote for “feign’d“] – …”It was frequently used (with) an apostrophe between words that gave the neighboring … Read More

John Donne (continued – 5)

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Allen Ginsberg on John Donne continues

AG: Then… there’s some notes..(some) thing in (John) Donne. Like, when it begins, it begins like a kind of lightning stroke, Like, he cuts right through, immediately, to some great insults, or basic statement that is much more realistic than any of the love poetry that went before, from “I Sing of A Mayden”, on, because he’s the first person that’s being disillusioned, ironic, intelligent, intemperate, feisty, nasty, wanting to fuck and not talk anymore, wanting to get it on and not delay, not be hung up. Obviously, … Read More

John Donne – Go and Catch A Falling Star – 4 (conclusion)

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[ “till age snow white hairs on thee…” ]

Student: (I was wondering, in John Donne‘s time, how they used the word “art”, A-R-T- how did they use that)?

AG: Well now, I don’t think they used it the way we do, then. In Shakespeare, you see, “If thou.. If thou be who thou think thou art..”  They probably used “art” in those days anyway.

Student: ( or “are” – (“Tell me where all past years are“))

AG: Okay. okay. They seem to be… “If thou be’st the man I think thou are” – (apparently, “art” (are) comes at … Read More

John Donne – 3 – Go and Catch A Falling Star (Pondering the Mandrake Root)

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[Mandrake illustration from a 15thc. manuscript Tacuinum Sanitatis]

Continuing with Allen Ginsberg’s analysis of John Donne’s poem, Go and Catch A Falling Star

AG: ..Yes. She still wouldn’t remain true. In other words,  You got to “go catch a falling star”, “get with child a mandrake root”. Anybody know what that reference is?

Student:  (There was a note on it in the book)

AG: Well, yeah, but it didn’t give you the full thing. It’s the.. On the gallows tree, when.. as (William) Burroughs pointed out, when people’s necks are snapped when they’re hung (and also beheaded, I … Read More

John Donne – Go and Catch A Falling Star – 2

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Allen Ginsberg on John Donne 1980 Naropa class – Continuing from here

Go and catch a falling star, Get with child a mandrake root, Tell me where all past years are, Or who cleft the devil’s foot, Teach me to hear mermaids singing, Or to keep off envy’s stinging, And find What wind Serves to advance an honest mind.

If thou be’st born to strange sights, Things invisible to see, Ride ten thousand days and nights, Till age snow white hairs on thee, Thou, when thou return’st, wilt tell me, All strange wonders that befell thee, And swear, No where … Read More

John Donne – (Go and Catch A Falling Star – 1)

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[John Donne (1572-1631)]

AG: Yeah, well, one thing that I was noticing, which gets introduced here more than before in Donne – contractions – like “find’st” (so you don’t have to say “findest” or “will find”, it’s just “find’st”, so it’s one syllable – “If thou find’st one, let me know” – da-da dad-a da-da-da – “If thou findst one, let me know” – So I get contractions out of that that I make use of in my own poetry. I made a lot of use of the same kind of contraction. Oddly enough, it’s vernacular (it looks literary on … Read More

John Donne – Intro

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[John Donne (1573-1631)]

AG: John Donne – Now begins something different from what we’ve been doing. So far, up to now, I have been getting involved with the lines as kind of rhythmic melody and rhythm (or “cadence” was the word that we finally came to, that I finally wound-up using (from Louis Zukofsky). And I think, historically, beginning with Donne, (but Donne is still sung and people wrote music to Donne), there begins here a kind of stiffening of the verse-form  (but Donne still is a melodic genius – but I don’t think Donne wrote his … Read More

Basil Bunting’s Lectures on Poetic Origins – 1

Basil Bunting  (1900-1985)

AG:  Some of the ideas that (Basil) Bunting was laying out, I would like to lay out here because they’re just very interesting. He was saying that, first of all, English poetry was sung up until the 17th century. All the poets wrote for singing including, of all people, John Donne! – Donne was sung. He was put to music by   a fellow named Ferrabosco of that era  (do you know anything about that?) – Well, apparently Donne was actually sung. Donne is usually taught nowadays as if he… you know.. he has one or two

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