Allen Ginsberg and Robert Creeley
AG: In the earlier part of the conversation…
AG: (….we) got on to the question of quantity…
RC: We were talking of (the) Sapphic, exactly
AG: …in poetry, for example, “cause I was asking Bob what in Louis Zukofsky‘s work, where in Zukofsky there was a treatment on quantity. Then I was explaining what I knew about Sapphic verse and then we went to consult his copy of Zukofsky’s translations of Catullus…
RC:.. of translations of Sappho
AG: (Catullus) 51– and the one of the Furies and Aurelius (Catullus) 11 – and the one of the translation of the Catullus Sapphic fragment about the guy who’s a god and sits next to you when you’re laughing, looking up into space, and meanwhile I can’t talk and my body’s trembling and I’m having lustful thoughts…
RC: Yeah, (William Carlos) Williams translates that one, “Peer to the gods is he that…”
AG: So we were comparing our ears…
AG: we were comparing our ears on the line, on the quantitative line.
RC: I hear.
AG: You got the book around?
RC: It was…
AG: It was… Oh well. Actually, that was the literary part of our conversation.
RC: We were talking about politics and literary politics
AG: We got to politics later but we started on a real simple practical carpentrying aspect of which poets in English wrote in quantitative verses, metres, measures, and what do we know about it. We were comparing what we knew about it.
ADL: Syllabic as opposed to accentual?
AG: No, quantitative as opposed to accentual..
RC: Yeah, we were counting the…
RC: …duration of this..
AG: …classical quantity or duration of the length of the syllable.
RC: ..long or short.
AG: I was contributing information that Fulke Greville, (Sir Philip) Sidney, and (Christopher) Smart had done it successfully before (Ezra) Pound. And then he was, Bob was saying that (Louis) Zukofsky had. [to Robert Creeley] Where did he first hear about that idea?
RC “ What one? Quantity?
AG: Quantity. Where did he first hear about that..?
RC: For him, from the Latin… years ago
AG: ..as applied to twentieth-century Americanese?
RC: I remember Williams thought (Lord) Byron desired to use quantity, because he didn’t seem to have any other order! [laughter]
AG: Oh. Is that what that was all about?
RC: Possibly. He (Willliams) was into quantity. Then there was… (Kenneth) Rexroth was using quantity
AG: I thought he just used syllables
AG: He actually, he actually had…
RC: I thought he used syllables actually but…
AG: I thought it was just a count of syllables. Did he also have some quantity involved with his ear?
RC: Say again?
AG: Would (Basil) Bunting be…
RC: Do you know if Bunting…
AG: Bunting’s buzzword for quantity was “care”.