Shelley – Nineteenth-Century Poetry continues – (25)

Allen Ginsberg on Shelley’s “Hymn To Intellectual Beauty” continues from here

AG:  Okay,  then what does he come to at the end? – “The day becomes more solemn and serene”. – “”When noon is past..” – (When the noon of bright brilliance, of white radiance of eternity [Editorial note – Allen is of course quoting from Shelley’s Adonais – “Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass, Stains the white radiance of Eternity”], or when the high noon of intellectual beauty, or I guess, that moment of supreme bodily robustness and mental search is past – which is supposed to be between the age of fifteen and nineteen, actually – or erotic energy is apparently at the highest then, and I suppose intellectual energy is at the highest, because you’re just discovering the extent of the universe then, beginning to think about it).

“The day becomes more solemn and serene/When noon is past – there is a harmony/In autumn..” – (So he’s already prophesying that he’s in an autumn state of his life, which he is, because he’s almost going to die in two … well, six years) – “… there is a harmony/In autumn, and a luster in its sky,/Which through the summer is not heard or seen,/As if it could not be, as if it had not been!..” – (as if it never happened) – “Thus let thy power, which like the truth/ Of nature on my passive youth/Descended, to my onward life supply/ Its calm – to one who worships thee,/And every form containing thee,/Whom, SPIRIT fair, thy spells did bind/To fear himself, and love all human kind..”

So he’s already beginning to get self-conscious about his own quixotic or variable splenetic nature and pride, because he’s talking about fearing himself, which is “stand in awe” it says here.

What do other … do you have that?  What do they have for “fear”?  Let me see.. Is there any footnote in any of the other books?
Student:  Here’s one.
AG:  What do they say?
Student:   after “fear” –  “probably in the old sense, “to stand in awe of”..”
AG:  Yeah.  That’s the same as what I have.  But do the other books… well, no, well, okay.  Oh, I see.  They’re saying not to criticize himself but just to stand in awe..
Student:  Yeah.
AG: … of the existence of his own self. I would have read it as being to lower himself and to raise others, raise human kind to more estimate, more compassionate or more estimation.  But it might be, as in a Whitmanic sense, to celebrate himself and celebrate all human kind.

I liked the way he spelled ecstasy- E-X-T-A-C-Y.[ “Extacy” .  Straightforward Extacy there.  Nowadays, what is it?  E-C-S-T-A-S-Y?  –  They got right straight Ex-tacy -E-X-T-A-C-Y.  Which may be his misspelling or maybe..  In those days did they have standardized spelling, do you know?
Student:  No.
AG:  By that time?
Student:  Somewhat, yeah..
AG:  How have you got it spelled?
Student:  E-C-S-T-A-S-Y.
AG:  Well, this, what we have here, is E-X-T-A-C-Y in this Norton.  What is it in the other Norton?  In your Norton?
Peter Orlovsky:  E-C-S-T-A-S-Y.
Student:  I don’t know, I can’t find it.
AG:  So.
Peter Orlovsky:  E-C …
AG:  Oh, it’s …
Peter Orlovsky:  … S-T-A-S-Y.
AG:  I’m sorry, it’s the last line of….
Student:  T-A-S-Y.
AG:  They changed it.  It’s the last line of stanza five.
Student:  Yeah, it’s E-C-S-T-A-S-Y.
AG:  I have E-X.  Who else?  Does anybody else (have) a variant.
Student:  I’ve got an X.
AG:  You’ve got an X.  E-X-T-A-C-Y?  Yeah.  I guess he must have spelled it “Extacy.”  It’s nice when you get those crude spellings, or the older spellings, because actually it’s closer to the feeling of a sudden ecstasy.

to be continued

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately fifty-two minutes in and concluding at approximately fifty-six minutes in

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