Student: Has he (Milton) (argued) to drop rhymes?
AG: No, but we’re talking… he’s talking about Paradise Lost, His earlier works he had rhymes (and some not-rhymes). He’s a great rhymer, he knows how to rhyme.
Student: (A fifty-percent thing, you know – he doesn’t, and then he follows it with rhymes)
AG: Me too, yeah, my first book (The Gates of Wrath) is all rhymes, and I go back to it occasionally. But he’s saying for heroic verse. For heroic verse, heroic rhetorical verse, that rhyme is a “jingling” and what he says is..vex… – “rhyme is a vexation, hindrance and a constraint to express many things otherwise and for the most part worse than else they would have expressed them”, because they’ve got to turn aside from their thought to find a rhyme. So he’s saying don’ t turn aside from your thought.
So, what we have to begin with is, though, instead of doing them slowly, I just want to get right into some sense of the text of Paradise Lost. So I’ll read the first, twenty five, twenty six lines aloud.
[Allen begins] – “Of man’s…” – Has anybody read Paradise Lost before? okay? How many have read the first book of Paradise Lost before, There’s 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 out of 20 people, or 9, Over half have not. I take it. How many have not read the first book of Paradise Lost? – 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 – Well, it’s equal, Maybe.. So this is great. First lines of Paradise Lost, – a real famous..trumpet. – “Of man’s first disobedience, and the fruit”
[Allen reads opening lines of Milton’s Paradise Lost]
Audio for the above (including Ginsberg’s reading of Milton) – can be heard here, beginning at approximately twenty-four-and-a-half minutes in and concluding at approximately twenty-seven minutes in