On “Stanzas Written At Night in Radio City” 

[Radio City Crossing. photo by Henry Silberman]

OnStanzas Written At Night in Radio City” 

[hear Allen in a recording of him reading the poem (from the LP/CD “The Lion For Real”)  here  – (and. here (in 1980), and, from a recording from 1981, in San Francisco  at The Intersection – here]

AG:   “If money made the mind more sane./ Or money mellowed in the bowel/ The hunger beyond the hunger’s pain,/ Or money choked the mortal growl/ And made the groaner grin again,/ Or did the laughing lamb embolden/ To loll where has the lion lain,/ I’d go make money and be golden”. – “sane” “bowel”/ “pain” “growl”/”again” “embolden” “lain” “golden” – it’s just AB AB…no, no, it’s a AB AB AC AC – which is pretty good, so I kept the A rhyme all the way through and each stanza is exactly the same – “hour” “shower”/ “cover” “lover”/ “me” “flee” /”thy” “die”/ “pure” “endure”../   whore”.. .it’s pretty much the same. Now “complain” “entertain”,  anyway…”shine”…– the stanzas are all the same, the stanzas are formally all the same – Like. “…money made the mind more sane./ Or money mellowed in the bowel/ The hunger be-yond hunger’s pain…”. So it’s “the hunger be-yond hunger’s pain, so there’s syncopation from the regular – “If money made.. iambic – iambic tetrameter (what I assigned you to do –  in other words, assigned you to do things I had done)

So , the first stanza covered money, the next one , , sex

“Nor sex will sad the sicken soul, /Which holds its holy goal an hour – no… “Nor sex will sad the sicken soul, /Which has is holy goal an hour – (“holy goal”, obviously a cunt, a “holy goal”) – “Nor sex will sad the… (hole) ” “Nor sex will sad the sicken soul/ Which holds its holy goal an hour/Holds to heart the golden pole” (the prick) – “But cannot save the silver shower (the sperm) – “Nor heal the sorry parts to whole” (put genitals together to make the original Platonic one unit, or one being, remember?) – “Love..” “Nor sex..” (and then I mention.. I refer to my own being in the closet, or “under cover”, here – “Nor sex will sad the sickened soul/ Which holds its holy goal an hour/Holds to heart the golden pole..” (which, literally, holds the prick to your heart), “But cannot save the silver shower,/Nor heal the sorry parts to whole./Love is creeping under cover,/Where it hides its sleepy dole,/Else I were like any lover”

“Many souls… “   And the next thing covers work – “Many souls get lost at sea,/Others slave upon a stone/Engines are not eyes to me/Inside buildings I see bone. Some from city to city flee,/Famous labors make them lie,/I cheat on that machinery/Down in Arden I will die” – (I was thinking of Cassady and Kerouac running from city to city, on the road, in that year in 1948-49, and the..” Some from city to city flee” that’s directly out of “The Lie”, well the use of the city there is directly out of Raleigh’s “Lie”)

Then the next part to the art – “Art is short, nor style is sure..” – (You know, “Art is short..” “Life is long, Art is short” – [Editorial note – actually, Ars long, vita brevis, Art is long, life is short]  – “Art is short… /Though words our virgin thoughts betray” – (though these poems my virginal homosexual desires do show through) – “…Though words our virgin thoughts betray /Time ravishes that thought most pure,/Which those who know, know anyway”  – (meaning (that was referring to that as a mystical experience – “that thought most pure,/Which those who know, know anyway” – who doesn’t know it anyway – and if you don’t know it, you don’t know it).   So…

“For if our daughter (Art) – “For if our daughter should endure,/ When once we can no more complain..” – (“complain”,  is like the old  “Lover’s Complaint to His Mistress – the word “complain” means a song here – c-o-m-p-l-e-y-n-t – compleynt) – “Art is short, nor style is sure:/ Though words our virgin thoughts betray/ Time ravishes that thought most pure,/Which those who know, know anyway/“For if our daughter should endure,/ When once we can no more complain./Men take our beauty for a whore,/And like a whore to entertain

“The city… “ (Then I covered the new 1948 version of hip consciousness – “ The city’s hipper slickers shine,/Up in the attic with the bats; (that comes from a line of Kerouac – “high on the peak-top, bats, down in the valley, the lamb” – “high on the peak-top, bats, down in the valley, the lamb” – I think he wrote that in 1947 in Denver, thinkng about the Rockies, – “high on the peak-top, bats, down in the valley, the lamb” – funny rhythm – so..

“ The city’s hipper slickers shine, (hipsters shine – city-slickers) –   / The city’s hipper slickers shine Up in the attic with the bats/the higher Chinamen supine,/Wear a dragon in their hats – (“the higher Chinamen” were the local Times Square junkies – “higher Chinamen?” – that was Burroughs we were thinking of – “ Wear a dragon in their hats” is to wear a dragon in their thoughts, day-dream) – “The city’s hipper slickers shine Up in the attic with the bats/the higher Chinamen supine (lying supine),/Wear a dragon in their hats/ He who seeks a secret sign/In a daze or sicker doze/ Blows the flower superfine/ Not a poppy is a rose” (the rose being the mystical rose and the poppy being the dopey..dopey junk, dopey opium, so “Not a poppy is a rose” – A rose is not a poppy –

“Blows the flower superfine” is , I don’t know, a bit heavy-handed and ungainly.

Then the thing – “Some men with swords may reap the field/ And plant fresh laurels where they kill/But their strong nerves at last must yield./They tamebut one another still.” – (that was the Henry King) –

And the next one was..  fame and heroism – “that fame were …”If fame were not a fickle charm/ There were far more famous men;/ May boys amaze the world to arm/ Yet their charms are changed again,/ And fearful hero’s turn to harm/But the shambles is a sham/ A few angels on a farm/ Fare more fancy with their lamb”

“No more of this…”   (that’s pretty funny!… I wrote it all staying up night after night working all night from midnght to eight a.m as a copy boy in a big office doing nothing but tending the big teletype machines and getting coffee for the reporters.

And then, (playing around in the dark room, they have this photo, photo room where you could develop photos, so I made pictures of myself in it)

This was what I exactly looked like when I was writing that poem…

Then it ends..a little bit… (it) doesn’t quite get it right. The end isn’t as good as the… –

“No more of this too pretty talk,/Dead glimpses of apocalypse:./The child pissing off the rock,/Or woman withered in the lips,/ Contemplate the Unseen Cock/That crows all beasts to ecstasy” (that is the Cock of the Last Judgment, or the Cock that wakes you in the morning, as well as the Unseen prick, the genitals. So, somehow, I was identifying the Apocalypse that was going to blow up the world with some sexual.. orgasmic.. blast-off!)

“The child pissing off the rock,/Or woman withered in the lips,/Contemplate the Unseen Cock/That crows all beasts to ecstasy/ As so the Saints beyond the clock/Cry to men their dead eyes see..” (And so I’m saying that in the unconscious, there’s some supernatural consciousness that could come about from the unconscious, meaning “dead eyes see” – living people with living dead eyes, actually see)

“Come, incomparable crown,/Love, my love is lost to claim,/ O hollow fame that makes me groan;/We are a king without a name;/Regain thine angel’s lost renown, As in the mind’s forgotten meadow,/Where brightest shades are gazed under stone,/Man runs after his own shadow.”  – “Where brightest shades are gazed under stone” – I don’t know what that means, actually.     –

Student: What’s that, Allen, that line about “dead eyes see”?

AG: “(D)ead eyes see”. Yeah . That’s from another poem. That’s from another sort of semi-metaphysical poem that’s – “I cannot sleep, I cannot sleep..” – It was about.. actually that was a poem about.. The Voice of Rock” .. It was a recollection of a vision of Blake that I’d had, that seemed to be supernatural, and it seemed to me that it indicated some kind of visionary consciousness that both living and dead shared. So – “I cannot sleep..” but, however, it was like a visionary thing that I had a glimpse of and then couldn’t get back to.

Student: Yeah, your feeling is that you don’t really think it’s possible

AG:  “Dead Fingers Talk”  is.. Burroughs or something,  “cut up”

Student:   Is it?

AG; Yeah,  it’s now a clich (but it was original when he wrote it. So the title of his book – a collection, a collection of..,  an anthology of Burroughs’ work. published in England in the mid ‘Sixties – Dead Fingers Talk. And it became a cliché after he published it, (or became famous as a cliché). This was “I cannot sleep, I cannot sleep/ until a victim is  resigned/a shadow holds me in his keep/and seeks the bones that he must find/ and hovelled in a shroudy heap/ dead eyes see and dead eyes weep/dead men from the coffin creep/nightmare of murder in the mind”

I don’t know what it means anymore. It was supposed to be a mystical magical formula, that if you understood it, you’d see Eternity!  That was the idea! . That was my idea of poetry – that poetry was a mystical magic formula of words, and if you put it in your nervous system, you’d see eternity, And I’m still harping on the same theme, but now I’ve got it a little more practical, as your breath, the cadence of the breath – that if you imitate that cadence it will turn you on to another metabolism and thereby you get to see your own presence in the space which is eternity. That’s the same Johnny one-note. Well, it was an interesting prophecy – “O hollow fame that makes me groan/We are king without a name”

– Kerouac had already written The Town and the City  or was writing it), and so I figured there was something going on.

Okay, next is… So that covers Wyatt, Raleigh...the influence of Wyatt, the metrical influence of Wyatt, Raleigh and James Shirley

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

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