Dowland Performance (“Weep ye no more, sad fountains”)

Transcription of Allen’s “Basic Poetics” class, from 1980 at Naropa, continues. The previous tape (tape 9 of 35) is missing and this tape comes in (towards the end of a class) with an in-class performance]

AG: What page is the poem (“Weep You No More Sad Fountains” by John Dowland)

Student: Page 115

[Editorial note – The author of this poem is, in fact, unknown, but its first recorded use was as the lyric for one of Dowland’s published lute pieces]

[Student/Musician in class plays with guitar accompaniment his own setting of “Weep You No More…”]

Student/Musician: I’m not sure how fast its supposed to go, this person says to
slow down.

[plays & sings] – “Weep you no more, sad fountains;/What need you flow so fast?/Look how the snowy mountains/Heaven’s sun doth gently waste./But my sun’s heavenly eyes/View not your weeping,/That now lie sleeping/Softly, now softly lies/Sleeping./ Sleep is a reconciling/A rest that peace begets/Doth not the sun rise smiling/When fair at even he sets?/Rest you then, rest, sad eyes,/Melt not in weeping/While she lies sleeping/Softly, now softly lies/Sleeping.”

AG: (to Student/Musician re his version) – How did you derive that or how did you figure it out?

Student/Musician: I… It’s a pretty logical sort of mode, you know. A-minor type-D kind of progression. G is added, I think, but, at that
point, the timing is..

AG : In terms of the time?

Student/Musician: You just play it six, like one-two and-three, one-two-and-three.It’s hard togo four-four time, three-three time would be much more logical – it’s like a three, yeah.

AG: I wonder what mode they had then, because I still think that the.. there’s some other principal beside…

Student/Musician: Besides time?

AG: Yeah

Student/Musician: Oh yeah, you can do a vibrato version of it. We’re thinking
of doing a slower version of it. We tried one in four-four (time).

AG: What does that sound like?…In other words, taking into account those vowels..

Student/Musician: (begins playing): Weep You No More Sad Fountains – (something like that (a lot slower) –Weep You No More Sad Fountains -(that gives a longer, longer (stress) on “Sad”)

AG: Yeah, that sounds better to me..

Student/Musician:(continuesWhat need you flow so fast

AG: Yeah

Student/Musician: Look how the snowy mountains/Heaven’s sun doth gently waste..

AG: Heaven’s sun doth gently waste..

Student/Musician: Yeah – There’s a move there. Like, the meter does require a few
things, like,what the three required, a little bit different interpretation.

AG: Yeah, like the problem is, how d’you get a form where your…let’s see..where the note, the note, is as long as the vowel?

Student/Musician: The note is as long..?

AG: ….is held as long as the vowel should be, if it were spoken.

Student/Musician: Yeah, that could be. Yeah. that’s why I said that one, that slower one, (to) try and get that going (continues strumming) – Now we have to go to a D-minor here because there is a definite change, like we’re on the second part and (to) catch that particular move that is necessary…

 AG: The quantitative measure that I was talking about is, checking out on Basil Buntingthe time it takes to measure a syllable. He put it down as that simple. Some language, he says, measures the time it takes to speak a syllable. It’s a real simple straightforward explanation – “the time it takes to speak a syllable” rather than….

Student: And that was from where?

AG: Basil Bunting. I’ve been listening to some lectures by..there’s an elder poet, Basil Bunting, who was a friend of (Ezra) Pound and Louis Zukofsky, who was in on these experiments with quantitative (prosody) back at the turn of the century, and he gave some lectures in Durham University in England in the late (19)70s, and I have cassettes of them that I’ve been listening to, because he’s reading (Thomas) Wyatt and talking about precisely this problem and I think he’s probably the world’s pragmatical expert on the whole subject. So I want to make some arrangements so everybody can hear those, because they’re
absolutely amazing, all sorts of interesting stuff, some basic, basic historical and ideological matters about the origins of poetry and what poetry is, that touch on what we’re trying to touch on, but do it in a very authoritative way, and very sensibly. That’s sort of like déjà vu hearing know, I’ll have it put in the (Naropa) library, or maybe set aside one
class just for listening to some of that.It’s really great (and) the first time
I’ve heard it.

Student: What is this person’s name again?

AG: Basil Bunting. I don’t think he’s in this anthology.

(to Student/Musician departing – Thank you – ( it) sounded great – ok – say to Jerry (Granelli) hello – we’ll probably break up
soon anyway…)

[Audio for the above (including the Student/Musician’s rendering) can be heard here, beginning at the beginning of the tape and concluding approximately eight minutes in]

[Postscript – the rock star, Sting, can be heard performing “Weep ye no more, sad fountains” – here]

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