AG: Well, it’s not that that you need to be able to understand it [Greek prosody] to write a poem. It’s not perverting your speech to get those rhythms. Rather, it is that speech does have those rhythms, and that you can follow the cadences with those rhythms, that when we were taught in drama-school and high-school primary rhythms, it was very rare that anything was taught beyond the four variants of iamb, trochee, anapest and dactyl. – that seemed to be the range of the English ear, or awareness of rhythm, or American high-school awareness of rhythm, till 1920.. And so it actually limited the range of emotions that was expressed, which you can. figure. And American poetics was limited in its range of emotions (except to the people who broke those rules and knew more, or even intuitively knew more – or knew it because they knew history of poetics and they knew this kind of stuff) . (And) Ezra Pound knew this kind of stuff. Vachel Lindsay, however, just broke all the rules and had a great ear, and I broke the rules and had a great ear (da-da) – and then I didn’t find out until this year, so I had to prepare for this school! – Well, so I began getting interested in this about three or four, years ago, because I began running into technical problems that I thought I may be able to solve?. So I knew more and I find that I can. So I did apply this knowledge to “Plutonian Ode”, to extending the rant in the “Plutonian Ode “to make it more grand. Because I knew… finally I realized what was the cadence I was working with, so it was possible. The point where I got to the line -” O-ver -your-dread-ful vi-brat-ion this measured harmony floats audible these jubilant tones are honey and milk and wine-sweet water/ Poured on the stone block floor” – You know, at that point, I was like, totally aware of.. it began with a dactylic – “O-ver -your-dread-ful vi-bration this/ measured harmony floats audible” – Da da-da da da da-da da-da da“ – So I was just, sort of.. I didn’t know the names of it, I just.. I mean, I didn’t bother to look up the name, I just kept track of it, ear-wise.. Yeah?
Student; You mentioned not knowing much through your entire high school. I don’t know, I graduated in (19)66 and never heard of you or (Jack) Kerouac at high school.
AG: No, but I’m just talking about this. the classic stuff that runs back two thousand years to the Greeks!
Student: It’s taught at high school… look at.. well, to say the least, it’s taught…
AG: Well, no. It used to be.. See, up until nineteen… when I went to high school, they would teach at least anapest, dactyl, iamb and trochee. Now, how many people had that in high school here?
Student: Private school
AG: Private school. Okay, so, one, two, three, four.. one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve. And how many had no training in iambic and trochaic in high school? – One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine – it’s equal, about equal – amazing, that’s amazing. To lose that, I think, is a shame. However, it’s all our own fault – or my fault (some of it!) . It’s the modern….because……[tape temporarily cuts out at this point] –
[people are no longer familiar with] that kind of measure, that it’s kind of withered away and people just started reading.. slush.
And then (Ken) Kesey came here [Naropa] about a year ago, and really complained, started complaining, saying that the entire curricula in the high schools had so degenerated that they were no longer reading Shakespeare, or the Bible, (Charles & Mary) Lamb – even Dickens, reading, like, essays by Eisenhower and …Eldridge Cleaver.. and, you know, poetry by me, maybe, and some little piece by Kerouac, but mostly really boring twentieth-century essays and prose. about social issues, about, you know. the Buckey case [alleged child abuse], or miscegenation, or homosexuality – or. social issues – the Vietnam war, nobody was reading any… the Bible? nobody’s getting the old rhythms any more.