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

Robert Creeley – 1

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[Allen Ginsberg and Robert Creeley. Photograph by Laure Leber]

continuing with transcription of  Allen Ginsberg’s Basic Poetics class from February 1980 (Feb 27) at the Naropa Institute  

AG: Who’s got the right time?…  So, last time we were.. so..  what you were just doing before was Ted (Berrigan), Ted’s class. How many of you are in Ted’s class? So what happens?, There’s a half an hour wait in between? Is that a heavy shot to go through, two long hour- and-a-half (classes) in the evening. How does that work out? I was wondering. Are we creating.. (putting) too much on, … Read More

Shakespeare (Sonnet 144 and 152)

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AG: So, where do we go from there?. Here’s one that’s totally disillusioned. Sonnet 144 – It’s the one that was..later on.. (They’re) talking about the two loves, the dark lady and the boyfriend – “Two loves I have of comfort and despair” (It’s not in the book so I’m just reading it)

Two loves I have of comfort and despair, Which like two spirits do suggest me still; The better angel is a man right fair, The worser spirit a woman colour’d ill. To win me soon to hell,

{interpret “hell” as “cunt”, all through this  (or that’s what … Read More

Ginsberg-Taylor-Orlovsky-Pickard 1979 Warwick continued

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[Allen Ginsberg and Steven Taylor, 1979]

Allen Ginsberg, Steven Taylor, Peter Orlovsky and Tom Pickard reading at Warwick University, November,  1979  continues from here

AG: Steven Taylor, please favor us with a song (Steven Taylor being a poet as well as being a musician)

ST: I’m going to sing a song that I wrote after first reading the poetry of Anna Akhmatova, the Russian woman poet who was banned by (Joseph) Stalins government in 1929 and was not published after that time. She identified with the wife of Lot in the Bible, who was turned … Read More

Shakespeare (Sonnet 94)

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AG: So, [Sonnet 94]

They that have power to hurt and will do none, That do not do the thing they most do show, Who, moving others, are themselves as stone, Unmoved, cold, and to temptation slow; They rightly do inherit heaven’s graces And husband nature’s riches from expense; They are the lords and owners of their faces, Others but stewards of their excellence. The summer’s flower is to the summer sweet, Though to itself it only live and die, But if that flower with base infection meet, The basest weed out-braves his dignity; For sweetest things turn … Read More