Expansive Poetics – (Shakespeare and D.H.Lawrence)


William Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens – Act IV Scene 1 – Timon renounces society –  Engraving by Isaac Taylor (1803), after a painting by Henry Howard

Allen’s Expansive Poetics class continues…  class reconvenes, July 2nd 1981

Allen begins with a reading (Timon’s speech)  from William Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens)

AG:  “Let me look back upon thee, O thou That girdlest in those wolves, dive in the earth,/ And fence not Athens! Matrons, turn incontinent!/Obedience fail in children! slaves and fools,/Pluck the grave wrinkled senate from the bench,/ And minister in their steads! To general filths/ Convert, o’ the instant, green virginity!/ Do’t in your parents’ eyes! Bankrupts, hold fast;/ Rather than render back, out with your knives,/ And cut your trusters’ throats! Bound servants, steal! – Large-handed robbers your grave masters are,— /And pill by law. Maid, to thy master’s bed;/ Thy mistress is o’ the brothel! Son of sixteen,/ Pluck the lin’d crutch from thy old limping sire,/ With it beat out his brains! Piety, and fear,/Religion to the gods, peace, justice, truth,/ Domestic awe, night-rest and neighbourhood,/Instruction, manners, mysteries and trades,/ Degrees, observances, customs and laws,/Decline to your confounding contraries,/And let confusion live! Plagues incident to men,/ Your potent and infectious fevers heap/ On Athens, ripe for stroke! Thou cold sciatica,/ Cripple our senators, that their limbs may halt/”As lamely as their manners! Lust and liberty/-Creep in the minds and marrows of our youth,
That ‘gainst the stream of virtue they may strive,/And drown themselves in riot! – (Like last night’s party!) -“Itches, blains,/w all the Athenian bosoms, and their crop/Be general leprosy! Breath infect breath,/at their society, as their friendship, may/ Be merely poison! Nothing I’ll bear from thee/But nakedness, thou detestable town!
Take thou that too, with multiplying bans! Timon will to the woods; where he shall find/The unkindest beast more kinder than mankind./The gods confound—hear me, you good gods
The Athenians both within and out that wall!/ And grant, as Timon grows, his hate may grow/ To the whole race of mankind, high and low!/Amen!”

Well, Timon, I guess….what’s the adjective?  “timonious”? “timonian”? “timoniac”? “timonic”? – I’ve heard an adjective made out of the word.

Student: “Timonious”?  “Timonian”?
AG: “Timonian”, I guess.. Yes, (Walt) Whitman was in a “timonian wrath” when he wrote “Respondez!” (similar to that) – but why? Why is everyone getting so mad? – or why in America was everyone getting so mad? here’s an interesting poem of D.H.Lawrence that we have in our collection “The Evening Land” – if you can find that. We’ll get to Lawrence and Hart Cranes other poems later, but it’s just this Whitmanic theme that I was harping on. (He’s in the English section, and he’s after Ford Madox Ford, and it’s the next-to-last poem in (the) Lawrence section, in “England”, and it comes right before Edith Sitwell.

Student: “The Evening Land”?

AG: Yeah. I’m sorry this book is so unmanageable to find things in. As I said,  (my student, SS) had a very good idea. She took these little yellow pages and made labels so you can find the sections easily (and that’s the major problem). I would recommend that – you get a couple of little cellophane sticker-labels that stick out (I don’t know what you call them..)
Student: You can buy them…
AG: Tabs
Student: (They come on a page, like this)
AG: Yeah, you buy the page.
Student: You can buy the whole thing
AG: Yeah – Tab-page, or something
Student: Something
AG: What do they call it?..You need not many – one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.. nine, for the sections.

So,”The Evening Land” by (D.H.) Lawrence is found on page 289 of his Complete Poems, the Viking Compass edition, edited by Vivian de Sola Pinto and F Warren Roberts – a pretty good buy, actually. This book is a bargain – you’ve got all of Lawrence’s poetry from beginning to end, and it’s a big thick thing.  You can also get it in Penguin (I think this is an older edition). The Penguin edition is probably more available, although it’s slightly smaller in type. This one is terrific for a paperback. It originally cost…god knows what? Four (dollars) fifty, cheap – When I got that..
Student: Six (dollars) ninety-five now [1981]
AG: Six ninety-five?
Student: Penguin’s ten
AG: Ten. Yeah, the Penguin’s imported. But for four (dollars) fifty, to get all of his poetry, is amazing. And he’s a good poet to read, because (a) rare poet, after Whitman. These specemins in American poetry of open-form verse are not that easy to find.

to be continued..

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