AG: Then the 13th Chorus I thought was one of the great poems in here, just for pure sound. And also for meaning. And also for putting together his Buddhist idea of suffering with the immediacy of the Aztec Mexican scene street he was in.
I caught a cold
From the sun
When they tore my heart out
At the top of the pyramid
O the ruttle tooty blooty
of Fellah Ack Ask
Town that russet moon
when priest dared
to lick their lips
over my thumping meat
the Sacrilegious beasts
Ate me 10,000 million
Times & I came back
of old Sour Azteca
Askin for more
I popped out Popocatapetl’s
So rebirth – talking about being rebirthed, reborn, asking for more life. Popocatapetl, you know, is a volcano in Mexico near Mexico City. Pulque is a sour drink made from cactus. “Ork” is just “Ork” – or Oklahoma or Arkansas saloons. So the sound there is from W.C. Fields, probably. “Saloons/of old Sour Azteca” – if you go into (a) pulque saloon that smells sour – if you go into any old Ork saloon it smells sour. And this is a little consideration, I guess, out of (H.G.) Wells and out of being in Mexico of the sacrifices on the Aztec pyramids. But it’s kind of weird
“I caught a cold/From the sun/When they tore my heart out/At the top of the pyramid”
Then there’s this really pretty cadenza – it’s one single stanza in the middle – if you can see the form of it, it goes – “O the ruttle tooty blooty/windowpoopies..” – (“windowpoopies”? – people looking out the window, I guess)
“..of Fellah Ack Ask/Town that russet moon/when priest dared/ to lick their lips/ over my thumping meat/heart -/the Sacrilegious beasts/At me 10,000 million/Times & I came back
Spitting Pulque/in Borracho/Ork/ Saloons/of old Sour Azteca” – (that’s all one breath!)
Student: Can I see your copy for a second?
Student: What’s”thumping meat/heart”?
AG: Ah, the heart pumps… It’s made of meat… The Aztecs would put people on the stone and take a stone knife and cut into their breast and take out their heart and show it to the sun.
AG: So, “I caught a cold/ From the sun/ When they tore my heart out/ At the top of the pyramid”
Student (2): It’s … it’s … it’s very high there in Mexican city, where they have those pyramids, so maybe altitude…
Student (2): …(he caught) the cold, there?
AG: Yeah, I don’t know if it’s that literal. I think he just thought how weird it would be to catch a cold from the sun. Well, dead, death. He’s being sacrificed to the sun, so he caught a cold from the sun.
Student (3): By taking your heart out.
AG: Well, yes..
Student (3): As opposed to warmth.
AG: ..taking your heart out – death. So – “I caught a cold/From the sun” means “I caught the death of a cold from the sun”.
Student (3): I got that cold.
AG: Yeah. Cold chills, also. But it’s a funny idea – “I caught a cold/From the sun.”
But the last three lines is what always knocked me out as sound. “Asking for more” – ( A-S-K-I-N )- “Askin for more/I popped outa Popocatapetl’s/Hungry mouth – (That’s a funny mouthful! – “Askin for more/I popped outa Popocatapetl’s/Hungry mouth”)
Popocatapetl is a big volcano and it’s got a hungry mouth with the volcano opening. And “hungry” – Why? I don’t know. Just continuing in with existence, asking for more. So he came back.
The next thing… So this is all about his own suffering at this point. Really his own suffering as a writer or as an artist or as a senstive heart or as a Jack-O-Hearts, so to speak.
And so the next one (14th Chorus) is very similar, or is the parallel. But that sound – “Ack Ack”, “Ork” – is some kind of Arkansas/Okie/W.C. Fields/ American sound for him.
Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately twenty-four minutes in and concluding at approximately twenty-eight-and-a-quarter minutes in