Spontaneous Poetics – (Carew and Waller)

Thomas Carew (1595-1640)

AG: The reason I’ve been going through all this poetry is that I’ve been proposing, in a sense, to teach modern poetics, or improvised or spontaneous poetics, but what I’m pointing out is that into my own verse, and in my own ear, and in my own body, there are certain rhythms from classic English poetry, from the anthology of songs, which makes my verse subtle, so I’m trying to introduce those same rhythms into your ear, for texts for you to go back to, to get these rhythms in your nervous system so that your own songs, when you come to compose them, will at least have the advantage of having heard the most refined and delicate rhythms that have already been invented and used by song-men past.

As Thomas Carew, 1640, wrote a song which also has an archetypal sequence or rhythm – “Ask me no more where Jove bestows,/ When June is past, the fading rose..”…”Ask me no more if east or west/ The phoenix builds a spicy nest;/ For unto you at last she flies,/ And in your fragrant bosom dies” – Just as rhythmic music. If you have words like that, the melodies come instantly, with that kind of time, with that kind of sweet time. You can hear that practically. What would that be, then? [Allen begins/attempts singing it] “–“Ask me no more..”, “Ask me no more where Jove bestows/ When June is past, the fading rose”, or whatever you come to, but, “Ask me no more where Jove bestows,/ When June is past”. No, “more where Jove bestows,/ When June is past, the fading rose..”, “the fading rose”

So, just by following up the forms of the spoken voice, in reciting, the tones of the spoken voice making complete common sense of the words, you can decipher or elicit melodic tones, so that in some good poetry, where the vowels are heard clearly, the rests are heard clearly, like, “Ask me no more where Jove bestows,/ When June is past, the fading rose..” (you can actually hear the musical melody notes implicit in the spoken tones). But for that you have to have very clear music.

Edmund Waller (1606-1687)

The most clear music in this genre is by Edmund Waller, whom (Ezra) Pound also relates to . Another great classic “Song” [Allen reads “Go, lovely rose!/ Tell her that wastes her time and me/ That bow she knows/ When I resemble her to thee,/How sweet and fait she seems to be..”…”Then die! That she/ The common fate of all things rare/May read in thee/How small a part of time they share/ That are so wondrous, sweet and fair!”] – There, for commencement rhythm, as it is a song – “Go, comma, and, long rest – “Go lovely rose”. That would be the equivalent, in a way, in Pound’s ear, as, say, if you were counting vowel-length, or if you were balancing weight of statement on weight of statement, the three-word, “Go, lovely rose!”, might well balance “Tell her that wastes her time and me”. The two lines are, in some respect, equal, and actually would be sung, probably, as..[Allen attempts to demonstrate by singing] – “Go, lovely rose!/ Tell her that wastes her time and me”, or some similar statement in melody. The ear here, unlike most 20th century lyric ears, or rhyming ears, is musical, an ear of music-time – an ear with music-time in it, so that the lines don’t have to be exactly the same length of syllables, or length of accents to be the same length for the breath. The “Go, lovely rose”, is carried on in the same length of breath as “Tell her that wastes her time and me”. How many knew of that song, “Go, lovely rose!”? How many had read that before? How many had not? [disappointing show of hands] – That’s astounding, because I thought (that) that was the most famous poem around, practically. Anyway, it’s by a man named Edmund Waller and it’s 1645.

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