Meditation and Poetics – 69 (Whitman 12 – Respondez! – 1)

[Allen Ginsberg’s August 1978 Naropa class on Walt Whitman continues. 
Gregory Corso and Allen today examine the poem “Respondez!” 

AG: Yes
Gregory Corso:  (Walt) Whitman had a darkness that they didn’t put in Leaves of Grass. He had a Poe-ian hit once and it was down with everything”.  You know that poem?
AG: Yes.. Yeah, Don’t think it’s in this edition. What is it? “Respondez!”?  What was it called? “Respondez!”… Yeah – Does anybody have an edition which has that?
Student: I have it.
AG: Yeah, do you have it in that?
GC: There you go.
AG: Do you have it there?
Student: I don’t know what it is
AG: We can find it. Do you know which one it is, Gregory?
GC: Yeah, I know
Student: It’s totally against man
GC (reaching over): Excuse me..
AG: What is it called? Does anybody know? … It’s that long philippic against everything.
GC:  .. the whole shot.
AG: You got it?
GC: This was his Poe-ian hit. (but) I don’t know the title of it. I’m looking up these things, it’s ridiculous, this..
AG: Does anybody know of what we’re talking. It’s a somewhat… No, give me the book, give me the book, give me the book, I’ll find it. No, no it’s a great poem, where he…
GC: He downs the whole shot.
AG: Yeah, but now let me see if we can find it, though.
GC: Was it near his end?
AG: “Poems Excluded From Leaves of Grass” – “Respondez!” I think it is
GC: There you go
AG: Yeah, I had it in mind.. (Page) 603..
GC: Of course. Oh..
AG:  …I think
GC: Yeah, here we go, “Respondez!”, right?
AG: Do you want to read it, Gregory?
GC: Let me try a little bit. Will you take up for me? You watch it as I go and I (’ll) give up, you take over 
AG: Yeah
GC: Alright

AG:  [“Respondez!’] It’s page… You got it?
GC: Alright.[begins reading from Whitman] – “Respondez! – (The war is completed – the price is paid – the title is settled beyond recall) / Let everyone answer! let those who sleep be waked! let none evade!/ Must we still go on with our affectations and sneaking?/  Let me bring this to a close – I pronounce openly for a new distribution of roles;/ Let that which stood in front go behind and let that which was behind advance to the front and speak;/ Let murderers, bigots, fools, unclean persons, offer new propositions!/ Let the old propositions be postponed!/Let faces and theories be turn’d inside out! let meanings be freely criminal, as well as results! /Let there be no suggestion above the suggestion of drudgery!/ Let none be pointed toward his destination (Say! do you know your destination?)/ Let men and women be mock’d with bodies and mock’d with Souls!/ Let the love that waits in them, wait! let it die, or pass still-born to other spheres!”

 –Yeah, continue, man, that’s a beauty!



















[Allen Ginsberg continues (with Gregory Corso occasionally enthusiastically joining in, reading from Whitman’s “Respondez!”] – “Let the sympathy that waits in every man, wait! or let it also pass, a dwarf, to other spheres/ Let contradictions prevail let one thing contradict another! and let one line of my poems contradict another!/Let the people sprawl with yearning, aimless hands! let their tongues be broken! let their eyes be discouraged! let none descend into their hearts with the fresh lusciousness of love!/ (Stifled, O days! O lands! in every private and public corruption!/Smother’d in thievery, impotence, shamelessness, mountain-high;/ Brazen effrontery, scheming, rolling like ocean’s waves around and upon you, O my days! my lands!” 

AG: Can you understand when we’re both doing this? –


[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately forty-six-and-three-quarter minutes in, and continuing until approximately fifty-and-a-half minutes in] 


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