John Donne (continues – 6)


Allen Ginsberg on John Donne’s “Sweetest love, I do not go..” continued

Peter Orlovsky: .”Thus by frightened deaths to die.” – What does that mean?

AG: “Feigned death”

Peter Orlovsky: .”Thus by… .feign’d death?

AG: Imitation death – to feign is to imitate. Death…incidentally, death throughout (not throughout) but in some of these erotic or love poems by Donne, “a little death”, is an orgasm, often, or it’s the local… I think there’s a little footnote on it – [Allen looks to the footnote for “feign’d“] – …”It was frequently used (with) an apostrophe between words that gave the neighboring syllables a fused pronunciation and counted as one, metrically” –  (that’s the bottom of page two-thirty-five) – [he continues reading] – “They continue to be common in modern speech, although in writing (though in writing), we now limit the use of the apostrophe to “you’re”, “don’t,” “won’t”, and “they’re”, and things like that, but “on’t“, “in’t” (on it, in it) are used, actually, in, as he says here, “they continue to be common in modern speech”  –  So if you’re interested in the correlation between modern speech and modern writing, you might notice the.. those contractions, the apostrophe he uses the apostrophe..

Student: He makes a pun out of “on to it”, to wit, I mean..

AG: Where?

Student: “On to it” on (page) two-thirty-five

AG: Yeah – “And we join to’it our strength”?

Student: And would he do it like “to it”. Is that how you’d read it?

AG: I mean, like “toot”? – “And we join toot?” – or “And we join twit?” – “We join twit our strength”?

Student: I mean, don’t you think you’d say it, make it a “to wit”  (was that) a common phrasing at the time?

AG: Well..

Student: I mean, it’s like a legal term. So..  “next to wit..”

AG: Tort?

Student: Tort?

AG: Tort

Student: A wit is also a witticism – a witty…

AG: To wit? – I misread that line, actually, because I put “And we join to it”, I didn’t..I didn’t actually toot (to’it),  (didn’t) toot it out properly!

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

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