William Burroughs Conversation – 10

Ginsberg (and Corso) and Burroughs in conversation continuing from here

AG: ..So – oh, yeah- so Gilmore had a notebook that Auden had kept in which Auden wrote poems including the great classic  “Lay your sleeping head, my love/Human on my faithless arm /Time and fevers burn away/ Individual  beauty of thoughtful..” children?
Does anybody know how that goes? –  “Time and fevers burn away the thoughtful beauty of individual children.. /But in my arms till break of day/ Let the living creature lie/ Mortal, guilty but to me/ The entirely beautiful.” – (“Lullaby“) – It’s one of Auden’s great poems.

WSB: No, oh you mean this is something that he found that Auden had written?

GC: Right right, right

AG: This is one of Auden’s classics

WSB: Oh – uh-huh – in his notebook?

AG: He had the original – and Auden had written out in a notebook and had given it to (Bill) Gilmore  (enclosed with a letter from Marianne Moore) saying.. admiring Auden’s recent poetry. That was like the first big-time literary manuscript I ever saw. I was really impressed by that, actually. Gilmore was still cherishing it and he knew that it was of value, actually. which would be 19..?  just a few, just a few years later from the time that you met Auden.

WSB: I should imagine, yes, around there

AG: What is that? (19)38? 39?

WSB: (19)38,’39.

AG: So this is maybe six years later. What kind of influence did Gilmore have on you?

WSB: Oh, not very much. We were quite close one time. We saw a lot of each other at dinners and so on.

AG: He seemed a peer.  Of course, I was much younger, but Gilmore seemed a peer. How did he get along with.. Did he knew Kells Elvins and did they know each other?


AG: Never intersected?

WSB:  They never intersected

Ted Morgan: Kells Elvins was?

AG: Kells Elvins was Bill’s..

WSB: … (a) very good childhood friend of mine, who was a collaborator in the “Twilight’s Last Gleamings, (which I’ve used in many readings and a version of which appeared in Nova Express). But, no, he had nothing to do with, he never intersected Gilmore.

AG: “Twilight’s Last Gleamings” is, for those of you who don’t know, a central piece in Bill’s mythology and texts, the earliest text from Harvard, I think – You made it up in Harvard?

WSB: Yeah, it was written with Kells.

AG: The sinking of the Titanic as a parable of the sinking of the American ship of state  was..

WSB: Well the Titanic, no,  the Titanic and the..

AG: Lusitania?

WSB: ..and the Lusitania, and the..what is it? Morro Castle (that’s the one that burned off Jersey Coast and the first mate was in the first lifeboat ). But there was a steward on the Titanic that got in women’s clothes and escaped, yes!. – “A cur in human shape” says the.. The account was “A cur in human shape” – “Surely he was preserved to show the lengths to which , the depths (to) which humans can sink!” – But the weird thing is that he was discovered by a boat-full of women and, you know, you’d expect he’d been torn to pieces by these harpies but…

AG: They let him off?

WSB: They did.

AG: So why did that appeal? – that seems to be one of the central metaphors.

WSB: Well, it was certainly the outrage, the outrage, the ultimate outrage – the captain in women’s clothes in the first lifeboat.  But, on the Morro Castle, the first mate..  (you see, the Captain had died of..yes..the Captain had died of a heart attack the night before the fire).. So the first mate took over and he was in the first lifeboat that left the Morro Castle – the acting Captain.  Outrageous!

Audio  for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately twenty-nine-and-a-half minutes in and concluding at approximately thirty-seven-and-three-quarter minutes in.

One comment

  1. – Any spoken words
    – Of Burroughs
    – Of Kerouac
    – Of Ginsberg
    – Of Corso
    Eagerly awaited, here in post-beat, Brexit UK!
    By one who slept under the roof of No 9 Git-le-Coeur, as it transcended-into the Beat Hotel.

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