Three Models (Wyatt, Raleigh & Shirley)

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542), Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618), and James Shirley (1596-1666)

AG: Then. – one….  from (Sir Thomas) Wyatt. (on page one twenty-two?) – an imitation of Wyatt. You remember the lines in Wyatt about…  (let’s see) where Wyatt is here..? –“My Lute Awake/ perform the last labors…” –  “My lute awake! perform the last/ Labour that thou and I shall waste,/ And end that I have now.…” …is that it? – Where’s Wyatt (in our books)?.. what page is it? – one-twenty?.. yes, here, at one-twenty…)

Well, there is that – “My lute awake! perform the last/ Labour that thou and I shall waste,/ And end that I have now begun;/ For when this song is sung and past,/ My lute be still, for I have done.” –  It’s the singular cadence that goes from the beginning to the end without interruption (I mean, there’s commas happening, (but), there seems to be, like, a single, almost like a single. breath, that goes through a whole, in this case, five-line, stanza). So I was trying to make an eight-line stanza, where the.. where the..  which would be as smooth as Wyatt. and, at the same time, had a little syncopation, and. at the same time had the same kind of.. I’s the… (“My Lute..” is (on) page one-seventeen) – and, at the same time. have a completely beautiful lilt. or, like, “Forget not yet the tried intent/ Of such a truth as I have meant;/ My great travail so gladly spent,/ Forget not yet”.  You know what I mean by the continuity of the rhythm in those stanzas, as distinct from other people’s stanzas? Does that make sense? It just has some kind of this locked-into-a-single..  that seems to be locked-in.  Each stanza seems to be locked in to a single rhythm that’s perfectly clear rhythmically and, at the same time, seems to be continuous.

In Wyatt, particularly, he’s one of the most perfected of stanzas… perfected… perfect stanza-makers. Has anybody noticed that at all ? Did we notice Wyatt sufficiently to pick up on that quality of silver poetry, silver minds?

Well, let me read a little Wyatt, a couple of lines of Wyatt again, and then I’ll read my poems, and you can see if you can get the connection.

My lute awake! perform the last/ Labour that thou and I shall waste, /And end that I have now begun;/ For when this song is sung and past, /My lute be still, for I have done. 

May chance the lie withered and old/The winter nights that are so cold/Plaining in vain unto the moon/Thy wishes then dare not be told/Care then who list, for I have done

And then may chance thee to repent/The time that thou hast lost and spent/To cause thy lovers sigh and swoon./Then shall thou know beauty but lent,/And wish and want as I have done./Now cease, my lute; this is the last/ Labour that thou and I shall waste, 

And ended is that we begun./ Now is this song both sung and past:/ My lute be still, for I have done. 

It’s the smoothness, you know in that, that you hardly get anywhere else. So I was working with that, and the Raleigh poem examining all the different fakes of people – Raleigh’s “The Lie”

“Say to the court, it glows”  “Tell potentates…” – ( that is, page one thirty-five, page one thirty-five) – Does everybody remember that? that poem?  -“The Lie”  – I think we got high on that pretty much, last time, it sounded very good. It’s.. one stanza after another covering all the conditions of social life, resigning and renouncing them and saying that they’re not.. they’re not making it) – “Tell physic of her boldness;/ Tell skill it is pretension;/ Tell charity of coldness; /Tell law it is contention./ And as they do reply,/ So give them still the lie.’ – (You’ve got the idea of that poem) – “Tell fortune of her blindness;/  “Tell arts they have no soundness” – “Tell faith it’s fled the city” –  “Tell faith it’s fled the city” – “Tell how the country erreth”  – (So all those are echoing in my head) –

And then, James Shirley... They’re all combined in this one poem I’m going to read – “Scepter and crown/ Must tumble down/ And in the dust be equal made/ With the poor crooked scythe and spade.” –  ( Is that Shirley, I think? Remember that poem?   Is that in here? Shirley?)

Student: (Page) three hundred

AG: Who would like to look at that again, just for a second?   – “Some men with swords may reap..” – (page three hundred, stanza two) – “Some men with swords may reap the field/ And plant fresh laurels where they kill,/ But their strong nerves at last must yield;/ They tame but one another still.”

Actually, I think this is the closest, these stanzas of Shirley’s “The glories of our blood and state…” are closest to the poem that I wlll now read. It’s a combination of  Raleigh’s “The Lie”, Shirley’s ““The glories of our blood and state”, and some of the cadences of Sir Thomas Wyatt, in a poem called “Stanzas Written At Night in Radio City”,  1949, when I was working in Radio City in the Associated Press newsroom as a copy boy..

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately nineteen minutes in and concluding at approximately twenty-four-and-three-quarter minutes in]

 …continuing tomorrow

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