Well there’s a funny kind of humor in Whitman that gives him a more ample mind thanWordsworth in his disillusion. I think partly because his original revolution was more deeply grounded in Nature, or his own body, and his own desire. And he had, from the very beginning, some sense of sunyata, or emptiness, hollowness, trickiness, about his own thought-forms, and his own passions, and his own attachments. In laying out his own story, to begin with I read a little prose paragraph, where he says his most rank or direct political statement was in the … Read More
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Allen’s Spontaneous and Improvised Poetics Naropa lectures of the summer of 1976 pick up again on August 4th, 1976
AG: I want to continue a little bit more with Wordsworth, because what I did was leave him with disillusionment with the French Revolution. (I left him) with his troubles, his political troubles, which are similar to the troubles that we’ve got [USA, 1976 – sic]. I was looking over “The Prelude” yesterday, where he continues, at great length, about his disillusionment, and I’ll read you just a couple of sentences from that (because it’s not … Read More
AG: .. 1859-1840 – “Sonnets on the Punishment of Death” – Sonnets in favor of capital punishment ! – he’d gone that far! – did you know that?. Wordsworth wrote sonnets in favor of capital punishment! Has anybody ever seen those? Well that really takes the rag off the bush. I mean, it’s so.. it’s sort of like a final horror. The great poet!, Shelley‘s beloved Wordsworth, writing sonnets in favor of capital punishment! This is now forty years after the French Revolution. So I want to read you a couple of little fragments of that so you … Read More
AG: Now we find Wordsworth later (at the very end) writing poems on Law and Order!
A group of “Sonnets Dedicated to Liberty and Order”! I’m not reading them because they’re great poems (although they are interesting), but I’m reading them because, well, what happened? .. what’s the evidence? how did he.. what did he do?
[William Wordsworth, in his youth, aged 28, (1798), oil painting by William Shuter – via Cornell University’s William Wordsworth Collection]
AG: Give Wordsworth credit (Shelley gave Wordsworth credit) for his original mastery of consciousness and revolution and liberty and divine thought and natural power, but there was something disproportionate to its cause, and to Nature, in Wordsworth’s resolution of his revolutionary dilemma (which is a dilemma, not only that we are going through now, , in America, but also, the great classic masters of the past, like (William) Blake, had to go through precisely the same historical circumstance. In … Read More
[Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825)]
AG: [Wordsworth] – I want to move away from his great poetry and get into what is sometimes considered to be his bad poetry. As a transition piece – a poem he wrote on the French Revolution. It was composed in 1804. He was already a little bit disillusioned. In a way, I was thinking of these poems in relation to our own national supposed disillusionment with the ‘Sixties [Allen is speaking in America in 1976 here] and I’m giving Wordsworth now as a little sample of what kind of … Read More
[“Old-timer & survivor, Herbert E Huncke, Beat Literary Pioneer, early decades thief, who introduced Burroughs, Kerouac & me to floating population hustling & drug scene Times Square 1945. From ’48 on, he penned remarkable musings, Collected as autobiographical vignettes, anecdotes & storyteller’s tales in the classic The Evening Sun Turned Crimson (Cherry Valley, 1970) and later Guilty of Everything. Here age 78 in basement back-yard, his apartment East 7th Street, near Avenue D, New York, May 18, 1993″]