Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004) – Photograph by Allen Ginsberg, courtesy the University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, Allen Ginsberg Collection
TO ALLEN GINSBERG
Allen, you good man, great poet of the murderous century, who
persisting in folly attained wisdom
I confess to you, my life was not as I would have liked it to be
And now, when it has passed, is lying like a discarded tire by the road
It was no different from the life of millions from which you rebelled
in the name of poetry and an omnipresent God
It was submitted to customs … Read More
[Allen (at Naropa in 1980) continues his survey through a xeroxed classroom anthology of the Sapphic form, paying particular attention today to the late work of W.H.Auden]
AG: So from that (from Robert Bridges), we get into, I think you have the Vernon Watkins and the..
AG: There’s Auden (W.H.Auden), and then from the front, mixed up in the front there’s Vernon Watkins and Louis MacNeice .. had rough Sapphics – (it’s way up front, we don’t need it now). Auden, however, is.. funny. So I think I’ll take two brief Auden Sapphics … Read More
AG: Did I do that last time? [Swinburne’s Hendecasyllabics]. If you listen to the way he handles it, it’s a direct transmission from him up to Ezra Pound up to modern days and into this classroom – “In the month of the long decline of roses/I, beholding the summer dead before me,/Set my face to the sea and journeyed silent,/Gazing eagerly where above the sea-mark/Flame as fierce as the fervid eyes of lions/Half-divided the islands of the sunset;/Till I heard as it were a noise of waters/Moving tremulous under feet of angels/Multitudinous, out of … Read More
From the incomporable Naropa University Archives, another vintage audio tape this weekend – (from June 25, 1979) a reading that took place in Denver, (Colorado), featuring Allen, alongside Kenneth Koch and Anne Waldman
Anne’s voice (a brief excerpt from a poem and a brief note of introduction) begins the tape, before Allen speaks)
AG: Thank you Anne, thank you everyone for coming. When I speak.. The sound-system here is real good, so when I speak, you can hear? everybody? Justin [sic] you can hear? every syllable?, every consonant? – Okay. What I’m going to do is mostly … Read More
[Allen continues with his review of his classroom anthology]AG: And the Sapphic Catullan form was picked up by, as we have in here [in this xerox anthology], Sir Walter) Raleigh and (Sir Philip) Sidney. So, if you continue turning (the pages of the anthology), you’ll get up to Raleigh. (If you can find that, it’s about three-quarters of the way – okay, let’s find the Raleigh first, then we can pay undivided attention) – about two-thirds down – It was called the perfect Sapphic! … here was are – the perfect Sapphic in English) – about two-thirds of the way down, at … Read More
Student: (Did John Burnett [a Naropa student] do [read out loud] any Horace?)
AG: Pardon me?
Student: John Burnett?
AG: No, he didn’t do any Horace. (So), let’s see, okay, yeah…
Student (begins reading) [Horace Book 2 – Ode XIV] “Ah, how they glide by, Postumus, Postumus,/ The years, the swift years!/ Wrinkles and imminent/ Old age and death, whom no one conquers -/ Piety cannot delay their onward/ March; no, my friend, not were you to sacrifice/Three hundred bulls each day to inflexible/ Pluto whose grim moat holds the triple/ Geryon jailed with his fellow giants/ Death’s … Read More