Shakespeare’s Birthday

William Shakespeare’s Birthday today!  – Not quite the hoopla that surrounded last year (the 400th anniversary) – but still..   Much excitement in the Shakespeare community over the discovery a few weeks back (on the t,v; show Antiques Road Show) of a small pocket notebook of Shakespearean commentary written up by a contemporary.

See manuscript specialist, Matthew Haley‘s “trembling” discovery here  (valuing the item as upwards of 30.000 pounds ( approximately 37,500 dollars!)

Ginsberg-on-Shakespeare we’ve featured numerous times on the Allen Ginsberg Project. Try, for example,  here, here, and here, here and here, –  here (Allen thinks … 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

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

More Shakespeare (Prospero’s Farewell Speech)

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[Prospero (a fragment from “Prospero, Miranda and Caliban” (1789) – Henry Fuseli  (1741-1825)- via York Museums Trust]

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits, and Are melted into air, into thin air: And like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,                                                                               The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on; and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. Sir, I am … 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

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

Shakespeare (Sonnet 129)

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AG: Then the next…He’s gone through all these emotional baths with his boyfriend, and is commenting on his own foolery, his own idiocy in getting involved so deeply and getting himself committed so much to love, that it’s a big trap. So… The way he says it is interesting. It’s a rant. (Sonnet 129) – “The expense of spirit in a waste of shame/Is lust in action” – The expansive breath or spirit in “a waste of shame” (like he was in some S & M scene, slave-master relation, begging, pleading, announcing, trumpeting, prophesying that it was going to … Read More

Shakespeare (Sonnet 116)

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[“Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks/Within his bending sickle’s compass come” (Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116)]

Alle Ginsberg on Shakespeare’s Sonnets continues

AG: Well, let’s get on with a couple more (What time do we have?) – Here’s one that I wanted to get to (we don’t have to do all of them) – (Sonnet) 116 (page 216) – The most perfect examples of logopoeia. Now to get to the heart of the logopoeia – “dance of the intellect among words” or intellection among words – “Let me not to the marriage of true minds/Admit impediments.” – Does … Read More

Shakespeare (Sonnet 147)

[Hieronymus Bosch (c.1450-1516) – detail from The Falling of the Damned into Hell  (1482)]

AG: I don’t know. Let’s see.. The one with the..Well, it’s much later, Sonnet 147, when “Hell” (the image of the cunt, incidentally, in the Shakespeare Sonnets) spurts fire (which is the infection). There’s a whole bunch of stuff in here that’s alluded to and some scholars get with. And in this edition, it’s in the footnotes, actually.

Student: Which edition?

AG: This is a Signet edition.The Sonnet 147 (look it up, you don’t have it, I don’t think) – Sonnet 147 does … 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