John Donne (continued – 5)


Allen Ginsberg on John Donne continues

AG: Then… there’s some notes..(some) thing in (John) Donne. Like, when it begins, it begins like a kind of lightning stroke, Like, he cuts right through, immediately, to some great insults, or basic statement that is much more realistic than any of the love poetry that went before, from “I Sing of A Mayden”, on, because he’s the first person that’s being disillusioned, ironic, intelligent, intemperate, feisty, nasty, wanting to fuck and not talk anymore, wanting to get it on and not delay, not be hung up. Obviously, some kind of funny contempt (there) for his partners, or..for..

Peter Orlovsky; What poem was this in?

AG: Well, let’s say, for “The Canonization”,  (on) the next page. – “For God’s sake hold your  tongue, and let me love” (that is a great lightning stroke at the beginning – “Shut up, let’s fuck!”) – “For God’s sake hold your tongue, and let me love/Or chide my palsy, or my gout,/ My five gray hairs, or ruined fortune flout,/ With wealth your state, your mind with arts improve,/ Take you a course (at Naropa!…)”  – “Take you a course” – what’s “Take you a course”, I wonder? I don’t know..

Student: (Take you away, run away)

AG: (Run away?) –  “Take you a course, get you a place,/ Observe his honor, or his grace,/ Or the king’s real, or his stampèd face/ Contemplate; what you will, approve,/ So you will let me love.” –   (Do whatever you want,  but so that I… as long as we can get it on immediately..)

I want to move on, because there’s so much of Donne to do that we could..


The next song  is, like  “Go and Catch A Falling Star“, one of the sweetest of his lyric rhythms (it’s da-da-da da da-da-da da da-da da-da-da) – “Sweetest love, I do not go/For weariness of thee“, and just a beautiful cadence in itself – da-da-da da da-da-da da da-da da-da-da – Sweetest love, I do not go,/ For weariness of thee,/ Nor in hope the world can show/ A fitter love for me;/ But since that I/ Must die at last, ’tis best/To use myself in jest/ Thus by feign’d deaths to die.” – da-da-da da da-da-da da da-da da-da-da – [Allen continues sounding out the poem…] …. – That’s page two-three-four, if anyone’s looking.

“Yesternight the sun went hence,/And yet is here today;/He hath no desire nor sense,/Nor half so short a way:/Then fear not me,/But believe that I shall make/Speedier journeys, since I take/More wings and spurs than he.”

“O how feeble is man’s power,/That if good fortune fall,/Cannot add another hour,
Nor a lost hour recall!/But come bad chance,/And we join to’it our strength,/And we teach it art and length,/Itself o’er us to’advance.”

“When thou sigh’st, thou sigh’st not wind,/But sigh’st my soul away;/When thou weep’st, unkindly kind,/My life’s blood doth decay./It cannot be/That thou lov’st me, as thou say’st,/If in thine my life thou waste,/ That art the best of me. ”  (Allen initially miseads the line – “Thou art the best in me”)

“Let not thy divining heart/Forethink me any ill;/Destiny may take thy part,/And may thy fears fulfil;/But think that we/Are but turn’d aside to sleep;/They who one another keep
Alive, ne’er parted be.”

That’s almost as good as  (Thomas) Campion for the rests in the lines, like “Alive, ne’er parted be”, or,  “Sweetest love, I do not go”  – da-da-da da da-da-da da. It’s a really pretty melody in the… That was probably, it’s assumed, since it was called “Song:, it was one that was literally sung.  For many years it wasn’t the .. When I went to school it wasn’t understood that these were sung, actually, and I didn’t know that Donne was sung until I heard it from Basil there are other.. I think I named the musicians, I knew the name of the musicians),  a month or so ago. We had it..   

{Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately forty-two minutes in and concluding at approximately forty-seven minutes in] 

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