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

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

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

Christopher Smart – 5 (Christopher’s Alphabet)

Allen Ginsberg on Christopher Smart continues

AG: Then there’s a series on the Hebrew alphabet.

Then there’s a series on the English alphabet:

For A is the beginning of learning and the door of heaven,

For B is a creature busy and bustling.

For C is a sense quick and penetrating

For D is depth.

For E is eternity—such is the power of the English letters taken singly.

For F is faith.

For G is God—whom I pray to be gracious to Livemore my fellow prisoner.

For H is not a letter, but a spirit—Benedicatur Jesus Christus, sic spirem!

For … Read More

Christopher Smart – 4

Allen Ginsberg on “the mad poet”,  Christopher Smart continues

AG: Smart is amazing – Smart went crazy”  (Jack) Kerouac and I wrote a little poem called Smart Went Crazy” in 1948, talking about Kit Smart).  Kerouac loved this. Kerouac’s long line comes somewhat out of Christopher Smart also. If you notice… Remember that  long one that ended  – da-da da da-da da da-da – dadada-da-da-da da da da….. “the magnifical and mighty” – that long one, that… Kerouac remembered that – that some… gave Kerouac some kind of inspiration for his own long line.  (and for … Read More

Christopher Smart – 3

[“Let Christopher, who is Simon Of Cyrene…”]

AG continues with his reading of  Christopher Smart.

For I bless God that I am not in a dungeon but am allowed the light of the sun

For I pray God for the Pygmies against their feathered adversaries, as a deed of charity

For I pray God for all those, who have defiled themselves in matters inconvenient.-  (maybe it’s jacking-off?. no,  or it’s fucking boys, or old men, sodomy – “For I pray God for all those, who have defiled themselves in matters inconvenient”)

For I pray God for the introduction of new

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Christopher Smart – 2

For I pray God to bless improvements in gardening until London be a city of palm-trees.
For in my nature I quested for beauty but God, God hath sent me to sea for pearls
For the nightly Visitor is at the window of the impenitent, while I sing a psalm of my own composing.
For there is a note added to the scale, which the Lord hath made fuller, stronger and more glorious.
Let Magdiel rejoice with Ascarides, which is the life of the bowels—the worm hath a part in our frame –
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Christopher Smart – 1

[Christopher Smart (1722- 1771)]

Allen Ginsberg on Christopher Smart continues

AG: And so what I’ll do now is read you some of Smart that you don’t have in the book and then we’ll get on to the book. It looks like that..long lines ..and it’s on facing pages, and on one side it begins, “Let man and beast appear before him, and magnify his name together..”   (it depends., some are missing manuscripts)

“Let Zurishaddai with the Polish Cock rejoice—The Lord restore peace to Europe. For I meditate the peace of Europe amongst family bickerings and domestic jars” (so, it’s “Let” … Read More

Christopher Smart – Intro

[Christopher Smart (1722-1771)]

AG: Lets get on to Christopher Smart on page five one five.

Student: But it sounds…

AG: Sounds, yeah, they’re similar. (Watts and Blake’s lullabies)  I’m sorry, this belongs to…      Now, has anybody read any Christopher Smart before? – One.. two..  Have you read some Smart?

Student: Maxwell Smart ?

AG; No, Christopher Smart.  Do you know any Smart? Do you know.. Is he taught much?  And what Smart is taught?

Student:  Aha!

AG: Is “Rejoice in the Lamb” taught at any great length.? “Jubilate Agno”?  And “Songs to David”? … Read More

Pull My Daisy (Collaborative Poem)

AG: And another one of the similar.. well, of a similar theme, just a crazy (crazy).. – the mad song?  you know, just the idea of the madman’s song?, was – “Pull My Daisy”,  (which began as a little lyric that I wrote, “Pull my daisy/tip my cup…”) – “Pull my daisy/tip my cup/Cut my thoughts/for coconuts...” – (Well I heard, at some point, about Christopher Smart, actually) –  “When I think of death/ I get a goofy feeling/Then I catch my breath/Zero is appealing/Appearances are hazy/Smart went crazy/Smart went crazy” – (Christopher Smart, I meant with that – … Read More