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..
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?
AG: By that time?
Student: Somewhat, yeah..
AG: How have you got it spelled?
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.
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….
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