Allen Ginsberg on the Opening of Paradise Lost
AG: It’s like a big, big statement. And you can figure, work it all out, if you want, about who he’s talking about – the Garden of Eden – “Mans First Disobedience”, ” the Fruit Of that Forbidden Tree’ – the Tree of Knowledge – “With loss of Eden, till one greater Man Restore us” – (Christ come back, or, if you don’t like all this Christian stuff, or.. want to go to the Old Testament, going back to “Oreb” or (Mount) “Sinai“, “didst inspire” Moses, thy “Shepherd”.. ….(who was the Shepherd on Mount Sinai?, it’s Moses,,,. “first taught” the Jews, (“the chosen Seed”) – “In the beginning. how the Heav’ns and Earth/ Rose out of Chaos”, (in the first books of the Bible), or, if you don’t like that shot and to hear of “Sion (hill) delight thee more – and Siloa’s brook” – (who was Siloa’s brook, do you remember?) – “that flow’d/Fast by the Oracle of God” – (I guess that’s a… “the Oracle of God” must be Delphi, the Delphic Oracle, so he’s appealing that if you don’t like the Greek mythology, there’s a Christian mythology, that he’ll ask for inspiration from and, as for the Muses, or the Muse, yeah, to come and get him – or the Spirit (“which is the same in Genesis (that) “moved on the face of the waters of creation” – there’s some little footnotes here – oh – “Milton makes Urania the inspirer of Moses on Mount Horeb and its borough Sinai, and of the later Hebrew prophets..” – 0h well, anyway, you can look that up in a book if that’s important..you know what it means – But what is interesting is he’s setting forward is verse arguments, his art form and that’s, like, the opening – and, on that you can begin examining his verse. and how his verse actually works. So, first first of all, because he did have Greek and Latin there is that “tone-leading of the vowels” and “melodic coherence”, like – “with mighty wings outspread/Dove-like satst brooding on the vast/ Abyss” – “Dove-like satst brooding on the vast/ Abyss” – (that’s really a great mouthful of vowels, if you ever try and pronounce it)
However, there is also some element, when he’s talking in English, there’s also some element of stress, that has to be taken in to account (stress – accent). So.. And. I never did understand how..how he arranged his English-style count. So Tom Schwartz here, who is a poet friend, who’s been in and out of Naropa, who’s teaching at CU (Colorado State University) and is learned on these matters and checked it out for us.. So Tom can.. So we’ve got those first lines up there (on the blackboard). Can you see them all? – dimly? – We’re going to pick up from there and then..whatever you know about it, Tom – and…why don’t you sit over here….
to be continued
[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately twenty-seven minutes in and concluding at approximately thirty-and-a-quarter minutes in]