William Blake (“Mad Song” & “To The Muses”)

[William Blake – “Mad Song” – the page from the first publication, 1783, with the pencil mark attributed to the poet]

Allen Ginsberg’s 1979 Naropa class on William Blake continues

AG:  … This “Mad Song” is not too well-known, but I think it’s psychologically interesting, so I’d like to lay it out.

The wild winds weep,/And the night is a-cold;/Come hither, Sleep,/And my griefs infold:/ But lo! the morning peeps/Over the eastern steeps,/And the rustling birds of dawn/The earth do scorn.

Lo! to the vault/ Of paved haven,/ With sorrow fraught/ My notes are driven:/ They strike the ear of … Read More

More Blake Preliminaries

[William Blake – Illustration for  John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress –  Plate 20 The Christian Fights Apollyon ‘ “It’s my favorite in all of Blake” (Allen Ginsberg)]

AG: (I brought) that three-volume set (of William Blake) here, so it’s up in the library in Reference, if you want to look at it.  And, (I don’t think I told you), I brought my own home collection of Blake to Naropa, and I’ve put it in the library for your perusal, (so it’s maybe twenty or thirty books  – big things and little books,  lots and lots of pictures,  lots and lots … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 374

[Allen Ginsberg in the War Resisters League office, May 1978 – photo: David McReynolds (c) David McReynolds]

Allen Ginsberg celebrations last night in Salerno, Italy – a collaboration between Casa della Poesia and La Locanda del Mare, presented by Sergio Iagulli, Raffaella Marzano and Giancarlo Cavallo, and drawing from the extensive audio and video archive of Casa della Poesia. (The event also featured a screening of the classic Beat film, Pull My Daisy, with Marzano’s appreciative and sensitive Kerouac translation)

Allen in Cuba in 1965 – Manuel Diaz Martinez’s  suppressed newspaper interview – “Y…no les dije a mis escandalizados superiores … Read More

Blake continues – (Poetical Sketches)

AG: I have this chronology here, so I’d like to run over a few things in it.  The beginning of this (is on page) four hundred.  Little miscellaneous poems.  In the miscellaneous poems of the Poetical Sketches,  which are 1769 or so, there’s one “To Spring”, “To Summer”, “To Autumn”, To Winter”, and they’re all really very Shakesperean-sounding, and very vivid They were written when he was fourteen, maybe – really early – and in autumn there’s a funny one – “Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat,/Then rose, girded himself, and o’er the bleak/Hills fled … Read More

William Blake – (Class Preparations)

Continuing from yesterday. As before, in the initial tapes, we experience technical difficulties. Original transcriber, Randy Roark:

“Shortly into this lecture it sounds as if in reaching for a book Ginsberg knocks into the microphone, apparently dislodging it.  As a result, much of the subsequent lecture is lost”

Today’s episode covers the rudimentary matter of obtaining books for the course

AG:  [in media res] … according to that scheme [The Four Zoas]..

Oh, the other problem is books.  How are we doing with getting Blake books?  Has anybody not been able to find one?

Student: They’re out … Read More

William Blake (The Four Zoas)

William Blake – The Four Zoas – from an illustration in Milton – A Poem (1804-1810)

We begin this week serialization of another of Allen’s Naropa classes – his 1979 lectures on William Blake. Today, a few preliminaries.

The initial tapes have a number of technical difficulties. As original transcriber Randy Roark explains:

“The tape machine malfunctions throughout this recording. A mechanical hum, sounding like a short in the microphone or recorder itself, interferes with the recording, which alternately comes in clearly.  The tape is labelled “Intro to Blake — Vala” — but almost none of this remains.”

Notwithstanding….… Read More

Lafcadio Orlovsky Recording

Lafcadio and Peter Orlovsky, August 1995 – photo: Allen Ginsberg

A quick note in preparation for some upcoming William Blake postings (it was announced recently by the Tate, incidentally, that, in September of 2019, through to February, 2020, they’re planning a major comprehensive William Blake exhibition)

January 1979, Allen is in New York with Peter Orlovsky and his brother, Lafcadio, on his way to Boulder, Colorado (to Naropa) to teach Blake.

The audio record is flawed (in several places), but it begins here – with Allen reciting Blake’ s charming  “My Pretty Rose Tree”, a cappella, and … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 373

[Allen Ginsberg – photo: Ira Cohen –  1978, from Ira Cohen & Carolina Gosselin’s “Bandaged Poets” Series]

Jeff Tamarkin reviews the Craft Recordings Howl box-set for Relix – here (For his review of The Complete Songs of Innocence and Experience – see here)

Eddie Woods, Amsterdam legend, remembers Allen in an extended interview on Dutch television (Kieurnet Television) – vid from back in 1997 – (nice to hear shout-outs to Simon Vinkenoog, Ira Cohen – and Benn Posset!)

This coming Sunday (July 8) in Los Angeles at Beyond Baroque – “Kerouac on Record”, “part conversation, part reading, … Read More

July the 4th – America

How could we not (re)publish this?

What(‘s) happened to America?


America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing. America two dollars and twentyseven cents January 17, 1956. I can’t stand my own mind. America when will we end the human war? Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb. I don’t feel good don’t bother me. I won’t write my poem till I’m in my right mind. America when will you be angelic? When will you take off your clothes? When will you look at yourself through the grave? When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites? America … Read More

“I don’t like the government where I live..”

[“Capitol Air” – “I don’t like the government where I live..” – Allen Ginsberg, pictured here with Joe Strummer and Mick Jones of The Clash]

[Allen Ginsberg, 1985 Self Portrait – Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto (c) The Estate of Allen Ginsberg]

More strange tapes from the archives. Solitary splendors. Throw-away musings. We’ll be featuring plenty more substantial things in the months to come but thought to follow up last week’s mournful ditty with this – another fugitive thing, another fleeting but poignant “audio-selfie” – Allen, alone with the tape-recorder, practicing, sounding out and composing a … Read More