Allen Ginsberg Reading At Warwick University, 1979


Allen Ginsberg at the Atheneum Bookshop, Amsterdam, November 1979. photo: Hans van Dijk / Dutch National Archives

Allen Ginsberg Reading At Warwick University, 1979  (continuing from yesterday)

AG: I’ll begin since – oh we were discussing the subject . I’ll begin with a song dedicated to another fellow in prison, David Solomon who’s in Brighton…in Bristol jail, as he was sentenced to ten years as part of that big LSD conspiracy bust about a year or two ago – what was the name of that? Julie Operation Julie

[Allen sings a version of “Dope Fiend Blues”- “Dope Fiend Blues Shuffle”]  (“I’m a dope fiend, I don’t believe your laws..”….”ride a big white horse”)

Jumping ahead to 1960-ish,  a few short sections from “Kaddish, which is an elegy for my mother, a long poem, that was…partly lyric and partly narrative. So I’ll read the proem, a sort of presentation of the scene, and some lyrical passages at the end (from “Kaddish  for Naomi Ginsberg (1894-1956″) – [Section 1] –  “(Strange now to think of you, gone without corsets & eyes……”…”Death, stay thy phantoms!” –  [“Hymmnn”} – (“In the world which He has created according to his will Blessed Praised..”…”Blessed be He! Blessed be He! Blessed be Death on us All!”) – [Section IV] – (“O mother/what have I left out…”..”with your eyes/with your eyes/with your Death full of Flowers”)

1968, a brief poem, like a Sapphic or Ancreontic fragment – “On Neal Cassady’s Ashes” (“Delicate eyes that blinded blue Rockies..”…silken skin all ashes, all ashes again”)

An elegy for, sort of elegy for Jack Kerouac, for.. or notes, actually, (it) winds up sort of elegiac but is just sort of like a thought, notes, notebook jottings, on the way to Kerouac’s funeral from a farm in Cherry Valley, where Peter and I were living in October 22nd 1969 – ((and) I’ve been working up through that chronologically) – “Memory Gardens”, which is the name of a cemetery which you pass on the way to Albany airport. We took a plane up to Kerouac’s funeral in Lowell, Massachusetts, passing Memory Gardens Cemetery. (“Memory Gardens” –  covered with yellow leaves/ in morning rain….”…”..and what’s the Work?/To ease the pain of the living/Everything else, drunken/dumbshow”)

(I’ll) finish with some…two poems on my father’s death and then a couple of brief love poems. My father was a poet also, was here in England with me in 1967, and we gave a reading for the Poetry Society [Editorial note – at the ICA (Institute for Contemporary Arts]. He was a lyric poet and died in philosophic mind – cancer – but not in pain, just lethargic fatigued.. (Allen reads (from) “Don’t Grow Old” (“Wasted arms, feeble knees/80 years old…” ….”I walked around the block,/and found out what it was back there/it was a glue factory”), and follows it with a song ( “My father died and so I wrote a song “Father Death Blues”, flying home from Colorado, where I was teaching in a Buddhist institute (“Hey Father Death, I’m flying home..”… “My heart is still, as time will tell”)

(I’ll) finish with two love poems ( “I Lay Love On My Knee” ( (“I nurs’d love where he lay/I let love get away/I let love lie low/I let my love go….For all time is our wealth”). and “Love Replied” (“Love came up to me/& got down to his knee..”…”Hold me close and receive/All the love I can give”)

Allen concludes the reading with a rendition of William Blake’s ” The Nurse’s Song– (“The Nurses Song” – A farewell to the evening, The nurse calling all the little kiddies in from the hills” ) – (“When the voices of children are heard on the green”…. “And all the hills echo-ed”)


{Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately thirty-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at the end of the tape]

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