Samuel Daniel & Louis Zukofsky (on Permanence)


Samuel Daniel, 1562-1619


Louis Zukofsky, 1904-1978

AG: We started with that (the image of “the burning babe“) in the last class and then we went up in the air (and we got to talk about wind and breath on the basis of a poem, a sonnet by Samuel Daniel, on page 189, Sonnet 46 (“Let others sing of knights and paladins..”)

– Well, he’s talking to his girlfriend and has absolute faith in his girlfriend, such absolute faith in his own love and his girlfriend (on page 189, Sonnet 46 by Samuel Daniel) that he gets pathetic, and says, “let others sing about romantic matters and bullshit, I will sing about you” – “Authentic shall my verse in time to come”  – “Authentic shall my verse in time to come”

Then I went to..Louis Zukofsky – to talk about the measurement of lines and how “Only objectified emotion endures”, and then I defined “objectified emotion” as the same kind of breathing in verse, in a measured verse, as you might breathe if you were speaking the lines, and so transmitting the same breath from the poet to the reader, so that if the reader reads the line aloud he’ll get that delicate breath. In other words, the poet makes a little machine, which he can then insert in the body of a reader hundreds of years later. And if you breathe according to the instructions, and the commas, and the words. and the ear, and the body-English,of the word-machine, he can then reduplicate the very same delicate breath and catalyze the same delicate emotion. So the emotion objectified out in the outward air as a series of vowels, measured, with breaths, measured, slowed and clear,  can be reproduced later, or “endure”.

So, what,  Zukofsky’s phrase is (is) “”Only objectified emotion endures”, (In other words if you say [Allen emphasizes here the brevity of the statement], “I love you!”, that’ll pass very fast, because you haven’t got anything left, there’s no object, whereas if you say, “I love you. The sky is blue”, everybody will remember it forever!  Even in a thousand years, everybody will be saying “I love you and the sky is blue”.  In other words, it’s an objectified emotion – emotion objectified.

And I was also pointing out not only the idea, with the pretty words, but also with the very breath and the cadence (the “cadence” is a word we use), the cadence. And it does involve the weight the voice puts on the vowels (which goes back all the way to what I’ve been talking about, theoretically, about (Thomas) Campion and so forth).

So, what in this (Samuel Daniel’s poem)  was interesting – I explained,  “Authentic shall my verse in time to come”  (was) how that might be literally so.

For those who missed it, I’m sorry, (but it’s on tape), because I got inspired, breathing..

But then.. we didn’t really get to examples of this theme, which goes on later on. So I thought I’d just skip through a few major examples of the idea of the immortal breath – emotions turned into an object that can be breathed – a poem, a poem-object that can be breathed aloud, century after century.

And this theme of the poet suddenly getting his back up, straight spine, lifting his hand up like that, becoming prophet (in the sense of speaking with total authenticity and authority that his world is going to endure in time) – objectified emotion enduring.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately fourteen-and-a-half minutes in  and concluding approximately eighteen-and-a-half minutes in]

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