Hart Crane read by Tennessee Williams,
AG: Is that in.. “Hurricane“, I wonder, is that in our book? by Hart Crane – (could that) just by any stray chance be here? (in the Norton Anthology) – same meter (as Ben Jonson’s “Slow, Slow, Fresh Fount..” – “Lo, Lord, Thou ridest!” – C-R-A-N-E (Allen continues to rifle through the book)
Student: Seven eighty-one?
AG: What number?
Student: (Page) seven eighty-one, Hart Crane begins?….
AG: Let’s see, if they’ve got it in here. It might not be, but it’s a great poem. I’ll bring it in on another occasion if it’s not here – (continues looking) – Nah! – okay – well, be that as it may.
So Crane has a poem, [Allen tries to reconstruct it from memory] – “Lo Lord, Thou ridest! – Lord, Lord, Thy swifting wind – Nought stayeth, nought now bideth – But’s smithereened apart – Rock sockets, levin-lathered – The whip’s seething sea-kelp sky-high through sky-sea – bom bom ba-da-da – Thou ridest to the wall through the wall, Lord – Thou bidest floor nor.. Thou bidest through the floor, Lord, thou bidest floor nor woe, woe nor floor, Lord – Thoou ridest through – thou ridest through the door, Lo Lord – Thou bidest woe nor floor Lord – but be as Lo Lord thou rides – Lord Lord thy swifting wind – Lo, Lord , Thou ridest -Lord, Lord, Thy swifting wind/ bom-bom-ba-da-da –
[Editorial note – the actual poem reads “Lo, Lord, Thou ridest!/Lord, Lord, Thy swifting heart/Nought stayeth, nought now bideth/But’s smithereened apart!/Ay! Scripture flee’th stone!/Milk-bright, Thy chisel wind/Rescindeth flesh from bone/To quivering whittlings thinned—/Swept, whistling straw! Battered,/Lord, e’en boulders now outleap/Rock sockets, levin-lathered!/Nor, Lord, may worm outdeep/Thy drum’s gambade, its plunge abscond!/Lord God, while summits crashing/Whip sea-kelp screaming on blond/Sky-seethe, dense heaven dashing—/Thou ridest to the door, Lord!/Thou bidest – bom-bom-ba-da-da!
So that’s the Greek tragedy meter, at the moment, that, very often at the climactic moment of the tragedy when the Chorus – (or perhaps Oedipus tears out his eyes and says something) – (when) the Chorus has to say something climactic, you know, where the Chorus is dancing across the stage (and) BOM!-BOM!-BA-DA-DA!! – because that’s what it’s really like – a real chorus and a lot of noise – “Droop herbs and flowers” – here, he (Jonson) uses it very quietly. It’s not a line.. it’s not a meter that’s used often, that is, many times within one line, it’s a meter that is.. a verse itself, a five-syllable meter – two kinds- the… oh have I got it right? – yes – one is the.. a..dochmiac meter, it’s called D-O-C-H-M-I-A-C – dochmaic meter – from “dochme” and the dochmiac is [Allen writes on blackboard ] _ boom-badda boom-badda, boom ba-ba boom-ba, (da-da da da-da) – “I tore out my eyes!” –
[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately sixty-minutes in and continuing to approximately sixty-three-and-a-half minutes in]