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

Shakespeare’s Sonnets (Conclusion)

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Allen Ginsberg’s 1980 Naropa class on Shakespeare’s Sonnets, continuing from here, concludes today. 

Student: Are there (Greek) epic poetry rhymes like this? (like Shakespeare’s Sonnets’ sequence)?

AG: Yes, some are. Some of them are very complicated. Well, not necessarily rhymes. I don’t think that Homer is rhymed, is it? – Homer ain’t rhymed, (but) Homer is just as complicated and different in other ways (Homer’s measured by the vowel-lengths of things – hexameter) – but it’s longer No, (Sir Philip Sidney’s) “Astrophel and Stella”, I think, is a longer Sonnet sequence, possibly.. Others.. There’s ones that mention … Read More

Allen Ginsberg Reading At Warwick University, 1979

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[Allen Ginsberg at the Atheneum Bookshop, Amsterdam, November 1979. photo: Hans van Dijk / Dutch National Archives]

Allen Ginsberg Reading At Warwick University, 1979  (continuing from yesterday)

AG: I’ll begin since – oh we were discussing the subject . I’ll begin with a song dedicated to another fellow in prison, David Solomon who’s in Brighton…in Bristol jail, as he was sentenced to ten years as part of that big LSD conspiracy bust about a year or two ago – what was the name of that? Julie Operation Julie

[Allen sings a version of “Dope Fiend Blues”- “Dope Fiend Blues Shuffle”]… Read More

Poetic Inspiration

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Student: Spirit?

AG: As respiration, inspiration, spiritus, Holy Spirit! (the holy breath)…let me see what it says here [Allen points to his book (a dictionary)] – I don’t think this is etymological.. it may be…let’s see.. “spiritus” – How many did not know spirit meant breath, breathing? – and how many knew? [show of hands] – That proves it. Most knew. In other words, it’s known.

Peter Orlovsky:  (I suppose) “Spirit”  (is) when you die you go up to heaven.

AG: Well, you go into the air. You fade into the air. [Allen, reading from the dictionary] – “… Read More

Allen Ginsberg Reading in Baltimore -1978 -1

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[Allen Ginsberg, performing at the Maryland Institute College of Art via MICA Digital Initiatives Unit]

Last weekend we featured a reading by Allen at the Maryland Institute of Art dating from 1969 (one of a number of extraordinary tapes recently digitalized and made available on-line by the Institute’s Decker Library). Today we feature another from that trove, Allen reading and performing at that same venue almost a decade later. Once again, alongside his own work, (accompanied by the ubiquitous harmonium, and a hastily picked-up, confessedly under-rehearsed, guitar-player – “Hoppy from The Moronics”), he performs versions of William Blake, Read More

The Burning Babe of Robert Southwell

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[Robert Southwell (1561-1595)]

continuing from a previous posting

AG: If you go back now to The Burning Babe of Robert Southwell

[Allen reads the entire poem]

As I in hoary winter’s night stood shivering in the snow,

Surpris’d I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow;

And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,

A pretty Babe all burning bright did in the air appear;

Who, scorched with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed

As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed.

“Alas!” quoth … Read More

Allen Ginsberg Reading in Baltimore -1969

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Allen Ginsberg at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, November 1969

A few weeks back, we featured Allen, in 1973, reading at the Maryland Institute. Here’s another recording, from 1969, four years previously, where he presents a little mantra, a little William Blake and a substantial selection (some still in early draft) of his epic “poem of these states”, later incorporated in  “The Fall of America

The reading begins with a very brief introduction, welcoming Allen back (sic)  ( “It seems to me most appropriate because this reading comes between All Saints Day and … Read More

December 1st – William Blake’s Mental Traveller

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Manuscript of William Blake – The Mental Traveller

THE  MENTAL TRAVELLER

I travell’d thro’ a land of men, A land of men and women too; And heard and saw such dreadful things As cold earth-wanderers never knew.

For there the Babe is born in joy That was begotten in dire woe; Just as we reap in joy the fruit Which we in bitter tears did sow.

And if the Babe is born a boy He’s given to a Woman Old, Who nails him down upon a rock, Catches his shrieks in cups of gold.

She binds iron thorns around his … Read More

The Burning Babe & Intro to The Mental Traveler

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[Holy Poet-martyr St Robert Southwell And The Burning Babe (detail), William Hart McNichols 2015]

AG: How many were not here last time?. Well, okay.. Gordon Ball’s here and wants to take some pictures so if you don’t mind flashing.. lightning-bolts.. .burning babes… The last time, we dealt with “The Burning Babe”Robert Southwell’s poem, (page) 186. I think I had assigned it so for those of you who haven’t read it, you can read it later, but the idea was that there was this weird image of a burning babe (how many were here then?), burning babe, … Read More

“Trembling Lambs”

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William Blake – title-page of America a Prophecy copy A (printed 1795) – collection of the Morgan Library

 

Allen, writing, prophetically, in 1959:

AG: “Recent history is the record of a vast conspiracy to impose one level of mechanical consciousness on mankind and exterminate all manifestations of that unique part of human sentience, identical in all men, which the individual shares with his Creator. The suppression of contemplative individuality is nearly complete…”

“Because systems of mass communication can communicate only officially acceptable levels of reality, no one can ever know the extent of the secret unconscious life. No one … Read More