More Shakespeare – 1

Continuing with Allen Ginsberg’s August 1980 Shakespeare lectures.

For earlier sections – see here, here and here

This tape begins in media res, with Allen noting one of Shakespeare’s literary sources – Montaigne’s Essays [(Chapter 30) “Of The Caniballes”]

AG: Montaigne notes how one of his servants told him of a tribe of savages who followed the rules of nature. So this is an early Rousseau-ian utopian vision, which is echoed later by Gonzalo in one of his speeches:

“It is a nation, would I answer Plato, that hath no kinde of traffike, no knowledge of … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 266

[Allen Ginsberg in Jack Kerouac Alley, next to City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, September 1994 -Photograph by Elizabeth Mangelsdorf/ Associated Press]

Countdown (less than a month now before the release of the Allen Ginsberg three-CD box-set, “The Last Word on First Blues“). Already, we’ve had a little taste. “Do The Meditation Rock” can be heard – here, courtesy of Rolling Stone, and “Father Death Blues” – here, courtesy the Jewish Daily Forward.

We can’t begin to tell you how excited we are about this release. More in the weeks to come.

Also excited about another … Read More

Basic Poetics (Ballads – Lord Randall)

[Lord Randall – illustration by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939) from Some British Ballads, 1918]

AG: “Lord Randall”..what is.. has anybody read Lord Randall here? How many have read “Lord Randall” already? And how many have not? [show of hands] – okay, then we might as well read it through. Is anybody pleased to read it? Would anybody like to read it? Is there anybody that’s… yes, you, [to Student], you know that one before? you’ve read it aloud ever before? ever? Student: This? AG: Yeah Student; No, I haven’t read this one before. AG :But you’ve read it ? … Read More

Basic Poetics – (Ballads continued – Two Sisters)

Allen Ginsberg lecturing on the early English Ballad tradition continues

AG: Basically a ballad is a narrative. It tells a story. It tells it fast . it might have a stop-frame or freeze-frame in it (where there’s a lament and a repeat of various lines). Jump-cuts, very fast collage, like highlights, starting with the beginning and swiftly moving into the action, then jumping, with great ellipses (like a haiku), so tremendous time and space or tragedy or action, so, jump to the end of the action, or climax of the action and then show the result – somebody..the knight … Read More

Basic Poetics (The Douglas Tragedy & Metrics)

Continuing/picking up, after a short break, with Allen Ginsberg’s “Basic Poetics” Naropa classes. In this one, (dating from June 1980), he continues his discussion of early English poetry, English & Scottish ballads, stressing this time the alliterative aspects of the verse (and including a brief and summary discourse on traditional (classical) metrics)

AG: Did most of you get to read the ballad section in the book [the Norton Anthology] ? – Those who did not, raise your hands. It’s alright if you didn’t. Those who did actually read it raise your hands. The ballads sections of the book. Okay, … Read More

Shakespeare – 3 – Ginsberg on Shakespeare continues

[H.C. Selous – Illustration from The Plays of William Shakespeare (1886)]

Allen Ginsberg’s analysis of William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest continues

AG: Well, envy – the biggest envier in the whole play is Caliban. who’s always at the bottom, envying everybody, you know, wanting everybody’s power.

Student: There’s that great line, “well, I taught you how to speak”, and he says, “yeah, I know how to curse..” [Prospero: “…I pitied thee/Took pains to make you speak, taught thee each hour/One thing or other. When thou didst not, savage/Know thine own meaning, but wouldst gabble like/A thing most brutish, I endowed … Read More

Shakespeare Weekend – 2

[“Miranda – The Tempest “(1916) – by John William Waterhouse1849-1917)]

Allen Ginsberg’s class on Shakespeare’s Tempest continues

Student: How many syllables are there in the blank (verse) line? AG: Well, in Shakespeare’s case, it’s a number, see, it could be basic ten, but it could be more, twelve (I’ve counted – “Will ever after droop. Here cease more… Well, Will-ev-er-aft-er-droop-Here-cease-more-quest-ions” – Eleven Student: Hendecasyllables? AG: Like the hendecasyllables. Sometimes, but then it’s twelve, there ‘s eleven – “I-find my-ze-nith-doth-de-pend-upon…” – that’s ten -“I-find my-ze-nith-doth-de-pend-upon…” a-most-aus-pic-ious-star-who’s in-flu-ence.. – “A most auspicious star whose influence” – ten – “If now … Read More

Saturday April 23 – (Shakespeare Weekend)

“Poetry leaves its own skeleton hanging in the air/like BuddhaShakespeareRimbaud” ( – from Allen Ginsberg’s 1974 poem, “Manifesto” )

“Shakespeare left his breath for us to hear his Cadence…” (Allen Ginsberg – from 1980, “Meditation and Poetry”)

April 23, 1564 and 1616 – born (so they imagine) and dying on the same day.

Today’s therefore a very special day – the 400th anniversary of the death of the great Bard, William Shakespeare.

We’ve saluted Shakespeare here before. Five years ago – here, and, more recently here, but today we thought to begin the transcription of a lecture Allen Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 265

[Scrap Leaves (1968) and Sad Dust Glories (1975) – two early Allen Ginsberg pamphlets]

Michael Schumacher, editor of The Essential Ginsberg and author of the biography, Dharma Lion, reviews the UnCollected Poems:

“Allen Ginsberg’s harshest critics have claimed that he published every word he’d ever written, regardless of value as poetry.

This, of course, is nonsense. As someone who has seen all of his journals, I can attest to the fact that he published only a small portion of his writings. There are some real jewels buried in his journals, just as there were numerous published poems … Read More

On Timothy Leary – A 1996 Telephone Interview with Peter Gorman

[Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary at the Human Be-in, Golden Gate Park. San Francisco, 1967 – Photograph © by Lisa Law]

[High Times, August, 1996 – A special supplement – tribute to Timothy Leary]

On Timothy Leary – A 1996 Telephone Interview with Peter Gorman.

AG: See, if stuff is printed in my name, I get responsible for the syntax …and I have a bibliographer who puts all that down and it’s already a two-volume bibliography which is enormous so I have to be careful that what I print under my name is what I have edited. PG: … Read More