Meditation and Poetics – (Whitman – Respondez! – 2)


Okay.. [Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso continue reading and reviewing Whitman’s Civil War poem, “Respondez!” ] – “For not even those thunderstorms…”

GC: Go ahead

AG: “..nor fiercest lightnings of the war, have purified the atmosphere;)/ – Let the theory of America still be management, caste, comparison! (Say! what other theory would you?)”
GC: There you go. Revolutionary fuck-ups..
AG: “Let them..”
GC:  ..finally opening up..
AG: “Let them that distrust birth and death still lead the rest! (Say, why should they not lead you?)/ Let the crust of hell be neared and trod on! let the days be darker than the nights let slumber bring less slumber than waking time brings!..”
GC: Right
AG: “Let the world never appear..
GC: “ him or her for whom it was all made!”
AG: “Let the heart of the young…”… Yeah, that was a good (line), okay.. “Let the world…”
GC & AG together:  “Let the world never appear to him or her for whom it was made”.
GC: They got the chick in there, always.
AG: Yeah, yeah
GC: Love is male
AG: Yep.
GC: “Him or her” [sic]
AG: “Let the heart of the young man still exile itself from the heart of the old man! and let the heart of the old man be exiled from the heart of the young man!/ Let the sun and moon go! let scenery take the applause of the audience!”
GC: “Let scenery take the applause, fine!
AG: “Let scenery take the applause of the audience!”
GC: “Let scenery take the applause”
AG: “..let there be apathy under the stars!/ Let freedom prove no man’s inalienable right! every one which can tyrannize, let him tyrannize to his satisfaction!/ Let none but infidels be countenanced!/ Let the eminence of meanness, treachery…”

GC: What does that mean? – “Let none but infidels be countenanced!”?
AG: In other words, the only ones you can put….
GC: Infidels?
AG ….elected President.
GC: What does “countenanced” mean?
AG: Put up with your face, you know, like, faced with equanimity.
GC: Countenanced
AG: Allowed
GC: Allowed. No,”countenanced”, means it’s there
AG: Be countenanced
GC: “Let none but infidels be countenanced!”, in other words, be seen.
AG: Well that could be seen that way, yeah, sure. “Countenanced”, as it’s generally used is – [Allen pointedly alludes to Gregory Corso’s son, Max, who’s cries have been a continuing background to the class so far] – “I won’t countenance Max in this classroom, disrupting my..”
GC: He wants the fucking infidels around (in charge of America..)
AG: That’s what he’s saying, yes
GC:  (That’s fucking cold)
AG: Well, actually, he’s describing reality, political reality.
GC: His best shot.

[Allen and Gregory continue to combine together to give a classroom reading of Whitman’s poem] – “Let the eminence of meanness, treachery, sarcasm, hate, greed, indecency, impotence, lust, be taken for granted above all!..”
GC: “..let writers, judges, governments, households, religions, philosophies, take such for granted above all!”
AG: “Let the worse men beget children out of the worst women!”
GC: (That’s) a fuckin’ goodie, man! – “Let the priest still play at immortality” – What a shot! – Come on! Give it again.
AG: – “Let the priest still play at immortality” (Of course, he was the one who was playing at immortality)
GC: Right , they’re pointing heaven to you, right?  Everlasting shit. Alright, what else?..
AG: Well, now, this (one) is for you, Gregory – “Let death be inaugurated!…
GC: The inauguration of death, of course. Let it be.. Alright..
AG: “Let nothing remain but the ashes of teachers”
GC: Oh shit, he’s fucking us up. He wants us (out) too
AG: No, no …
GC: No, he says, “Let nothing remain” here / but the ashes of teachers, artists, moralists, lawyers, and learn’d and polite persons!”
AG: “Let him who is without my poems be assassinated!”
GC: Oh, wow! wow!
AG: He’s really mad. He’s really mad. See, but for the humor..
GC: (He’s barking) but he’s got the humor.
AG: Actually, with that line..
GC: ..saves the fucker..
AG: With that line the whole thing turns inside-out .. – “Let the cow, the horse, the camel, the garden-bee, let the mud-fish, the lobster, mussel, eel, the sting-ray, and..” – [Gregory joins in]  – “..the grunting pig-fish, let these and the like of these, be put on perfect equality with man and woman!”
GC: Alright. Can you imagine, he gets the mud-fish and the pig-fish in there
AG:  Yes.. mud-fish and “grunting pig-fish”
GC: Grunting pig-fish. So he’s still fucking around, right? Is he really letting out some anger, tho’
AG: Both. Might be..
GC: Alright, both, ok.. but look at what he gives the churches, Al – “Let churches accommodate serpents..”
AG:  Vermin
GC: “..vermin, and the corpses of those who have died of the most filthy of diseases”

AG: “Let marriage slip down among fools”
GC: What does he say about marriage? what is it? what is it? – “Let marriage slip down among fools”, right! – and, wait, “Let marriage slip down among fools..and be for none but fools!” (I think he should have said “Let marriage slip down amongst fools”)
AG: Well, we can imagine.
GC: Well it’s hard – “among fools” – alright, anyway, “Let marriage slip down among fools” – It’s not a bad line but what does it mean? Bullshit. He doesn’t hit it there, in that line
AG; Well you can’t… you see, at that point, when you let the aggression take over, occasionally you generalize..
GC: Right. There you go, there you go. Alright – “Let..” – now here’s the man and woman shot – There’s a big line…
AG: This is a..
GC: of the biggies of his man and woman shot. Give it, Al
AG: “Let men among themselves talk and think forever obscenely of women and let women among themselves talk and think obscenely of men!”
GC: Nice! jerk-off time, man, fucky-time
AG: And now the rest..
GC: Lust. It means lust, right? – to have lust for each other.
AG: Yeah
GC: Sure

AG: And the next one was the great beatnik platform, the next line.
GC: Okay –  (GC & AG together) – “Let us all, without missing one, be exposed in public, naked, monthly, at the peril of our lives, let our bodies be freely handled and examined by whoever chooses” – 
GC:  I never took the last line.
AG: But that was a John Sinclair
GC: Fuck it, I didn’t want anybody always touching me!
AG: No, that was the John Sinclair… Gregory, (but) that was the John Sinclair/Ed Sanders shot of…
GC: It was?
AG:..of “dope, sex and fucking in the street”
GC: Well that was one of the best.
AG: No,  “dope, rock and fucking in the street” – “Let nothing but copies at second-hand be permitted to exist upon the earth, let the earth desert God” – And that’s where he really…
GC: That’s not a bad one
AG: Nah..
GC: It’s not a bad one though for a poem.
tape ends here – 

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately fifty-and-a-half minutes in and concluding at the end of the tape]

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