Ginsberg and Whalen on Yeats continues. Philip choses the next poem
PW: I like this one (“The Hawk”). To double-back a minute.. [PW reads Yeats’ ”The Hawk”] – “Call down the hawk from the air/Let him be hooded or caged/Till the yellow eye has gone mild..”…”What tumbling cloud did you cleave,/Yellow-eyed hawk of the mind,/Last evening? That I, who had sat/Dumbfounded before a knave,/Should give to my friend/A pretence of wit.”
AG: He had a funny kind of self-rue, self-regret, self-criticism…
AG: …cutting into his own vanity, as he sees life cutting into his own ambition
PW: But then, he keeps having these breakthroughs. In “Vacillation”, that you were talking about a while ago, it says (in) Part one – “Between extremities/Man runs his course,/A brand or flaming breath./Comes to destroy/All those antimonies/of day and night/The body calls it death/The heart remorse./But if these be right/What is joy?” (and, two) – “A tree there that from is topmost bough/is half all glittering flame and half all green/Abounding foliage moistened with the dew,/and half is half and yet is all the scene,/And half and half consume what they renew/And he that Attis’ image hangs between/That staring fury and the blind lush leaf/ May know not what he knows, but knows not grief” – Now, of course, that’s based on an image out of the Mabinogion of the tree that’s half burning and half green, I think. If it isn’t out of the Mabinogian, it’s out of the Gawain cycle some place..
Diane Di Prima: I don’t think it’s the Mabinogion
[PW continues reading from Yeats’ “Vacillation” – part three] – “Get all the gold and silver that you can…” and part four – “My fiftieth year had come and gone./I sat, a solitary man./In a crowded London shop/ An open book and empty cup /On the marble table-top/ While on the shop and street I gazed/My body of a sudden blazed/And twenty minutes more or less/It seemed so great my happiness/That was I blessed and could bless”
AG: I love that marble table-top! He really got it, right there. He has this extraordinary experience, but he’s got “An open book and empty cup /On the marble table-top”, “(I)n a crowded London shop”, (and) “While on the shop and street I gazed”. It’s, like, a classic. I don’t think anyone’s done better in recording a moment of exaltation – at a marble table-top!
PW: Not since is master, namely Mr Blake, who he steals most of this stuff from
AG: Except Blake never had it as homely as that
PW: Sometimes he did
AG: “An open book and empty cup”?
PW: What is that thing about, “Come beauty..” “That lightly trip on beauty’s toe/ or sit on beauty’s bum” (in (Blake’s) “An Island in the Moon”, which is pretty funny
[PW continues his reading from “Vacillation”] – so the fifth part is – “ Although the summer sunlight gild/Cloudy leafage of the sky/Or wintry moonlight sink the field/In storm-scattered intricacy,/I cannot look thereon,/Responsibility do weighs me down..”…”..and not a day/But something is recalled,/My conscience or my vanity appalled” – (and the sixth) – “A rivery field spread out below/An odour of the new-mown hay/In his nostrils, the great lord of Chou/Cried, casting off the mountain snow, “Let all things pass away”…”What’s the meaning of all song?/”Let all things pass away” – and the “seven” part is a dialogue –” The Soul says, Seek out reality, leave that seem” (and The Heart says), “What, be a singer born and lack a theme? – “The Heart: Struck dumb in the simplicity of fire! –The Soul: “Look on that fire, salvation walks within – The Heart: What theme had Homer but original sin? – so, then (in) this eighth section he says, “Must we part, Von Hugel, though much alike..”
AG: Von Hugel was a Catholic scholar, (a) theorist of mystical experience.
PW: Yeah, yeah [PW resumes reading] – “Must we part, Von Hugel, though much alike, for we/Accept the miracles of the saints and honor sanctity?”…”Homer is my example and his unchristened heart/The lion and the honeycomb, what has Scripture said?/ So get you gone, Von Hugel, though with blessings on your head”.
AG: He’s an old sentimentalist.
AG: There’s another little fragment before this, of (a) little flicker of vision – “Meditation in Time of War” – “For one throb of the artery,/While on that old grey stone I sat/Under the old wind-broken tree/I knew that One is animate,/Mankind inanimate phantasy.” – “For one throb of the artery”!
PW: Like in “Jerusalem”, (William) Blake’s Jerusalem. [PW reads next Yeats’ “Quarrel in Old Age”] – “Where had her sweetness gone?/What fanatics invent/In this blind bitter town/Fantasy or incident/Not worth thinking of/Put her in a rage./I had forgiven enough.That had forgiven old age/ All lives that has lived/So much is certain/Old sages were not deceived”/Somewhere beyond the curtain/Of distorting days/Lives that lonely thing/That shone before these eyes/Targeted, trod like Spring” – And then he says – “The Results of Thought” – Acquaintance..”
AG: Yeah, I like that
PW: [continues reading] – “…companion/One dear brilliant woman,/The best-endowed, the elect/All by their youth undone/ All, all, by that inhuman/Bitter glory wrecked./ But I have straightened out/Ruin, wreck and wrack./I toiled long years and at length/Came to so deep a thought/I can summon back/All their wholesome strength/ What images are these/That turn dull-eyed away/Or shift Time’s fithy load/Straighten aged knees,/Hesitate or stay?/What heads shake or nod?”
AG: That’s 1931.
[Audio for the above can be heard here, starting at approximately forty-three minutes in and concluding at approximately fifty-two-and-a-quarter minutes in]