Meditation and Poetics – (Breath)

Sri Ramakrishna  (1836-1886

AG: More breath would be in (Percy Bysshe) Shelley.See, now, spirit.. divagating a little.. the reason that’s interesting (meditation poetics) is poetry is vocalized. The vocalization is out on the breath. So, in any case, we’re going to be dealing with the out-breath, one kind of out-breath or another – whether a silent out-breath or an out-breath full of vowels and consonants. An out-breath full of vibrations or (whatever), We’ve still got to recognize the breath as the ultimate spirit of poetry and breath is spirit. Spirit – spiritus. Latin. What is spiritus?
Student: (Latin?)
AG: Spiritus?
Student: (Spirits?)
AG:What does that mean?
Student: Wind
Student (2); Breathe
Student (3): Breathe
AG: It means wind?
Student: Yeah, mostly.Mostly, it means wind, any exhalation of air.
AG: Ex-halation? Yeah. Spiritus. What about In-halation?<
Student: (Same) – Inspiritus
AG: Inspiritus so Inhalation/Exhalation. So, traditionally inspiration, the word inspiration, poetic inspiration has literally to do with (the) physiological state of the body, which is open to..large breath. For those of you who’ve had the experience, either as poets or as singers, or perhaps as dancers, there’s a condition of the body where the body is like hollow and empty and the breath has unobstructed passage in and out (and usually accompanied with this gesture [Allen evokes breathing-gesture] which you may have seen in Ramakrishna’s pictures, occasionally,or some similar thing, which is – the complete openness of the body. In jazz singers very often, like (Mick) Jagger (of the Rolling Stones) will have some gesture like that, that great loose gesture, that loose gesture of complete carelessness, with the whole body open. Singers have that.Poets have that, too. Orators have it. Great orators have that. It’s faked by comedians.Like Bob Hope has it occasionally.There’s a comical fake of it where you’ve got it rehearsed, but there is the actual inspirational state.

Student: (Jack Benny?)

AG: Not much different from the improvisatory … it’s an improvisatory matter. It can be scored. In other words, you can score the breathings so that anybody taking your score and breathing in such a way as the score indicates could arrive at that state of inspiration. And that’s called poetry, when you do that. Certain kinds of poetry do that directly, Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind” which is about breath and spirit — the subject is breath. Also Shelley’s “Adonais– the last stanzas of “Adonais” are also about that spirit, that breathing, and so I’ll read a little bit of that to illustrate the point.

[Audio for the above can be heard here beginning at approximately fifty-six-and-a-half minutes  in and concluding at sixty minutes in]

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