Ecstasy and Grounding

[“Beauteous the moon, full of the lawn” (Christopher Smart)]

Allen continues his discussion (at Naropa, 1980) on Basic Poetics

AG: Okay,  so the question was what really..? (a) bummer? –  what do we mean by bummer?..  Where does he get that idea? – from  me?  that we’re not supposed to go into dithryambic rhapsodies?

Student:  There was… there was a time (from what I hear), when (for you) that seemed to be the case..

AG: Well, no, I was just.. Because, (no), most of the (student) poetry that I was getting and seeing had no (real) basis. So I … Read More

Poetry, Society, & Foolish Resentment

[Hokusai -The Fuji reflects in Lake Kawaguchi, seen from the Misaka pass in the Kai province]

Student: Can I go back and ask you a question? We were talking about entering the imagination and making it manifest..

AG: Yeah, well, the reason I read this (Christopher Smart’s “A Song to David”), incidentally, was, obviously , he had to sit down and work on it. And it must have been fun.

Student: For you, what’s left after this manifest  I mean, that’s not totally off-the-wall..

AG: What’s left?

Student: Yeah.  Inside.

AG: Inside? – Inside?  It’s only.. You plumb … Read More

Christopher Smart’s “A Song to David”

 

 

Well, a sample of such a poem is – (a long poem), something that takes a long time to write – by Christopher Smart, now.  There’s one poem that is not in our anthologies called “A Song to David”

Student: David?

AG: “A Song to David”, which you can find also in the anthology by W.H.Auden, Poets of the English Language (which we do have it in our library). And also there’s a great Smart anthology, a book of Smart’s,  in the library, if you want to look up Smart , there’s this one, this … Read More

Compositional Practice (Sustained Attention – 2)

Allen Ginsberg on compositional practice continues from here

Student: Ted (Berrigan) says you write poems when you’re on a retreat.

AG:  Sometimes. If I’m somewhere where I don’t have to do anything, then I tend to write. Like, I wrote a lot up in.. when I went up that week for the seminary I wrote a whole… about fourteen little poems. But that was because they had a poetry reading there, and so I wrote something to read. And I didn’t like the way.. their attitude there, so  I was trying to reflect on, straightforward, you know, fresh, perception, I’ll … Read More

Compositional Practice – (Sustained Attention – 1)

Allen Ginsberg, at Naropa, from 1980, continuing with his lecture on Basic Poetics

AG: So, working last night reminded me of something that I hadn’t tried formulating, or vocalizing, which is that to write a work of genius, of any density and thickness and length (except for the little ditties and brilliant pieces that you can write right off, spontaneously, little short poignant things like that “On Neal’s Ashes”, which are, little poignant poems, which everybody has written of their own), the situation arising where you actually get involved in a work and sit continuously at it for twelve, … Read More

Disillusion (1961’s Rhythmic Paradigm)

From Allen’s 1980 Basic Poetics lecture at Naropa

AG: “My ambition was to write a sort of Promethean twentieth-century poem, using all of the ancient meters that build up to some kind of  grand chorale.  And there’s a little sample of that in Journals Early Fifties, Early Sixties, a little thing called “Rhythmic Paradigm”, which goes on for half a page with a series of meters that are more complicated than the ones in “Kaddish” or “Howl” “

from “Rhythmic Paradigm  – National Anger” (1961)

Blasted be Congress and doom on the White House and cursed are the works of … Read More

Musical Archetypes and Natural Rhythmic Measures

[Ravi Shankar (ninety-one years old!) plays Raag’s Bhiairvi (Bhiairvi Raga)]

Allen Ginsberg’s 1980 class in  Basic Poetics continues from here 

AG: ..And I’m not sure, actually. I’m just posing the question, whether the continuous repetition of a fixed structure and memorization of it will then begin to collect emotions around it, and whether you’ll begin casting your own personal emotions into that slightly different emotional cadence, as in a Sapphic – or, is it possible that a stanza such as the Sapphic is so archetypal as far as breathing and emotional spurt, that anybody might breathe, or thin , … Read More

Sapphic Concision (“On Neal Cassady’s Ashes”)

Allen Ginsberg’s 1980 Naropa “Basic Poetics” class continues from here

AG: I took a poem that I had written, that was in an almost-Sapphic style, in 1968, “On Neal Cassady’s Ashes”, (which is a little classic, which is in some anthologies already. I don’t know if any of you are familiar with it) …Yeah…and I re-wrote it last night, also, so it would fit (the) Sapphic form. I had to take out about six words and it all fit, so it goes… And I found it..  I had done it unconsciously already, because the original first line was … Read More

William Carlos Williams’ Sappho

We continue today with transcription from Allen’s May 29, 1980, Basic Poetics classes at Naropa.  We’ve almost come to the end of this series of transcriptions.  Following on from an examination of Christopher Smart and his “Jubilate Agno”, Allen examines William Carlos Williams‘ translation (in Paterson) of a fragment of Sappho.’

AG : …(there are several) funny things about Williams’ Sapphic – [Allen reads] –          “That man is peer of the gods who,/face to face, sits listening/to your sweet speech and lovely/laughter. It is this that rouses a tumult/in my breast/At mere sight of you/ my … Read More

Christopher Smart – 6 – (Conclusion)

[“For flowers can see, and Pope’s carnations knew him” Christopher Smart)]

AG: Oh then.. this is the greatest…here’s the most amazing line. It’s worthy of  (William) Blake, or above Blake even, I think. (I think it’s above Blake, one line that beats Blake. I’ll read you the two before it, the one  -“For the first entrance into heaven is by compliment..”  Now, “For flowers can see, and the Pope’s carnations knew him”  -“For flowers can see, and the Pope’s carnations knew him” –  (there’s  a funny  line there –  “the Pope’s carnations knew him?” – “Flowers can see”.  -“For … Read More