John Donne (continues – 7)


John Donne (1572-1631)

AG : “A Valediction..(Forbidding Mourning)”  (by John Donne) (page two-thirty-nine). That was like… here you find a..the acme of Donne in his use of  images from cartography, compasses and spheres, and.. and I think that, like, is nowadays you have heavy-metal comix, or (William) Burroughs‘ poetry which has a lot of space-age imagery (android space-age martian heavy-metal). So, in those days, because of the adventures in America reported back, there’s a lot of.. everybody was hung up on the sort of apocalyptic imagery of a New World, and sailing, and making maps. There’s a lot about..endless imagery about maps, mappemundes and new maps and maps of the world in Donne and in his contemporaries.

So there are few lines in that that I like  – “profanation of our joys./To tell the laity our love.” (at the bottom of the page) – It’s just a very funny.. and a mixture of Platonic ideas and scientific.. Platonic ideas of love, mixed with very… “For God’s sake hold your tongue, and let me love” –  mixed with  straightforward, masculine, (macho somewhat, you might say), intellectual comments on love, mixed with some Platonic, or Neo-Platonic, ideas of the ladder of love going to some ethereal…. going to some ethereal conjunction of mind and stars, in the spheres of consciousness,  mixed with science-fiction of his day, mixed with a lot of religious imagery – “T’were a profanation of our joys./To tell the laity our love” – If we have such a special scene going on between us, it would be profane to tell anybody else about it” – In other words, it’d be profaning the divine celestial…

Peter Orlovsky; What kind of a scene?

AG: What? _ I don’t know! – Maybe they’re mind-fucking or something..

Student: Mind-fucking?

AG: For “profanation of our (joys)”..would be profaning,..”profanation of our joys./To tell the laity our love” – to tell the people who aren’t heirophants or priests about our love..

I remember when I was in the closet in Columbia University, as a young gay student, I would write poems to Neal Cassady imitating  this – “T’were a profanation of our joys./To tell the laity our love” – I was applying it that way. It would be, like, profaning the exquisiteness of our relationship to let anybody know that we were making it.  And so it’s sort of.. like, well-adaptable to gay poetry in the closet, this kind of  imagery.

[ Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately forty-nine-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately fifty-two-and-three-quarter minutes in]

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