Allen Ginsberg’s August 1st 1979 William Blake class, continuing from here, concludes
AG: We’re getting on a little late. It’s five of six. Yeah?
Student: What would figuring out what kind of verse it is do for (poetic) interpretation.
AG: In general, iambic. “In weeping blindness stumbling …” – Well, – “In weeping blindness stumbling she followed them….” Dah-duh, dah-dah-duh dah-dah-dah: “… stumbling she followd them o’er rocks & mountains.” “… stumbling she followed them….” Dah-duh-duh, dah-duh-duh. Dactyl. “… stumbling she followed them….”
Student: What I mean, aside from just being able to say, okay, well that’s such and such and such and such.
Student: …what’s the use if them?
AG: What’s the use?
Student: What’s the… yeah.
AG: There is a funny use. Oh, first of all, because most people read verse monotonously, you can show that it’s not monotonous and has a lot of variation in it. With more use, I found it useful in writing (when) a line stumbles that I don’t want to stumble. There may be an occasion where I want a line to dance along evenly, ((such as) recently (in) a long poem called “Plutonian Ode”)- and I found that by marking it up and finding out what the basic pattern is, I can see where I’ve left something out or where something is missing. Like I had a line the other day, “These …”
Student: “These tones are honey milk sweet wine and water poured on the stone block floor” [ Editorial note – “these jubilant tones are honey and milk and wine–sweet water/ Poured on the stone block floor..”]
AG: “These.. tones are honey milk sweet wine and water poured on the stone block floor.” But, (there’s) something wrong with that – “…honey milk sweet wine and water,” because “These tones are honey …” I was trying to get… it was a dactyllic line I was after. I started with something that was something toward dactyl – “These tones are honey milk sweet wine and water poured on the stone block floor.” But I finally wound up, “These tones are honey and milk and wine-sweet water/ Poured on the stone block floor.” By analyzing it out I just started reversing. Just making it clear where the direction of the sound was. “Over your dreadful vibration these….” It was beginning a dactylic line. “Over your dreadful vibration these measured harmonies are …”
Student: Float audible.
AG: “… float audible.” “Over your dreadful vibration these measured harmonies float audible, these tones are honey and milk and wine-sweet water/Poured on the stone block floor.” Dom-putta-dom-dah-dah-dah – “honey and milk and wine-sweet water” – dah-dah-datta – “Poured on the stone block floor.” So, because I had “Poured on the stone block floor,” – Molossus -“stone block floor”- or duh duh dah-dah-dah… Yeah. So, instead of having “sweet wine and water”, I changed it to “wine sweet water”, realizing that, because I’d analyzed “stone block floor”, I could see “wine sweet water” would have been useful.
So it’s just occasionally to resolve a technical problem when your ear gets tangled, you can sometimes untangle it rationally, like that. “Sweet Science.” However, if the entire poem is written that way, trying to fill in the formula, then you get really into a Urizenic net, and it’s terrible.
Okay, I’m sorry we went on a little late.
To be continued.
Class and tape end here
Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately one-hundred-and-eight-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at the end of the tape