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

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

John Donne continues – 8

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[John Donne statue at St Paul’s Cathedral]

Allen Ginsberg on John Donne continues 

AG: “The Ecstasy” (by John Donne) is a great example of logopoeia, and that’s quite a thing (to Student) – Could you read that maybe? Are you familiar with “The Ecstasy..?”

Student: Yes.. The whole poem?

AG: Yeah, why not, it’s a great poem. It’s a classic poem.. the.. It’s like the.. I suppose, in the time that Donne was considered the greatest, this was supposed to be the acme of Donne, “The Ecstacy”

Student: Well, I don’t know.. It was considered..

AG: It was considered..?

Student: … Read More

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

A Post-Valentine Posting

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[Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky, San Francisco 1955]

Well, yesterday was Valentine’s Day, let’s make today Valentine’s Day too!.  Here’s a letter from Allen to Peter Orlovsky, dated Feb 15, 1958

Dear Peter: Got your letter yesterday, was so happy to receive it and your sweet sex talk. I had been running around with mad mean poets & world-eaters here & was longing for kind words from heaven which you wrote, came as fresh as a summer breeze & “when I think on thee dear friend / all losses are restored & sorrows end,” came over & over in … Read More