Expansive Poetics – 37 (Lawrence and Whitman)

Allen’s Expansive Poetics lectures continue

AG: These specimens in American poetry of open-form verse are not that easy to find. Even after (Ezra) Pound and (William Carlos) Williams – 1905 or so – most American poets continued writing in the more archaic, nineteenth-century, iambic patterns. And when I first discovered free verse, working with William Carlos Williams, it was an adventure going out and trying to find poets in America or England who had written in an open form and had done it well (not just sloppy free verse, but poets who had some kind of electricity in the line).… Read More

Expansive Poetics – 11 ( Herman Melville)

AG: Then, another heroic precursor, nineteenth-century, is Herman Melville, as a poet. How many here have run across Melville as a poet? Yeah. Has anybody here read Melville as a prose writer? – Moby Dick?  That’s much more common. And how many have seen his poetry again [show of hands] – Yeah – I think he’s one of the four great poets of the nineteenth-century – (Emily) Dickinson, (Herman) Melville, (Edgar Allan) Poe (and) (Walt) Whitman. His work in poetry isn’t as well known, but it’s great. And he’s got a big thick book. Robert Penn Read More

Expansive Poetics – 10 (A Digression – Metrics)

AG: You all know anapestic rhythm? Is there anybody here that doesn’t know rhythms, I guess. Well, we might as well go to the board. We won’t be using this much in the twentieth-century but, just for those who don’t know, this is standard (or was, at one time, standard) simple measured iamb. [ Allen proceeds to write on the blackboard]. What’s an iambic pentameter line? Does anybody remember one? Student: “Let me not to the marriage of true souls..” [“Let me not to the marriage of true minds] AG: Well, it’s kind of mixed. It’s “Let me … Read More

Expansive Poetics – 9 (The Bells and Annabel Lee)

The Bells Edgar Allan Poe birthday Then, in America, the most interesting person around (at) the same time (as Pushkin, in the nineteenth-century), born 1809 and died early, 1849, is Edgar Allan Poe. Are most of you familiar with Poe? How many here are familiar with Poe? How many here are not? [Students raise a show of hands] – Yeah. How many have read “The Bells” by Poe? And how many have not? Poe’s “..Bells”  Well, that’d be kind of interesting to do. “The Bells” was the earliest poem that I knew, and that determined my rhythmic system, probably, because my father would go … Read More

Expansive Poetics – 8 – Pushkin

File:Pushkin Alexander, self portret, 1820s.jpg

[Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) – Self-Portrait  c. 1820]

So, last session I was reading aloud some of (Percy Bysshe) Shelley as precursor to the heroic and expansive breath that we’ll try to follow for twentieth-century poetry. And there are a few other poets of the nineteenth-century that are worth noting. There’s a lot of them actually but I’m zeroing in on he ones that had a big impact on my own nervous system, which is what it boils down to. There’s a line of Antonin Artaud, the French Surrealist poet, who said that there are certain human sounds, certain sounds … Read More

Expansive Poetics – 6 (Ode To The West Wind)


[Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), fair copy of the first forty-two lines of his “Ode to the West Wind“ (1819), in the collection of the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, England]

Allen Ginsberg’s “Expansive Poetics” lecture continues – “Ode to the West Wind” AG: The other thing is (Shelley’s) the “Ode to the West Wind”. How many know that? How many have read that? How many have not read the “Ode to the West Wind” by Percy Bysshe Shelley? Never? Well, that’s an example, I must say of TV generation. Student: TV generation? AG: Television generation. [Allen addresses … Read More

Expansive Poetics – 5 (Shelley’s Cadence)

Student: [on Shelley’s “Hymn To Intellectual Beauty”] – The thing I had trouble with, (with) stuff like that, is wondering if I should (be), like, listening to every word, understanding what’s being said. AG: In this case.. Well, the first thing is, no, you don’t need to understand it. The most important thing to get is the most important element, which is the rhythmical cadence – the cadence – to get the amazing cadence of dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-datta-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-duh-dah. Student: Right AG: “I vowed that I would dedicate my powers/To thee and thine.” – Listen to it just as cadence. Student: Right … Read More

Expansive Poetics – 4 (Shelley’s “Hymn To Intellectual Beauty”)

[Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)]  

AG: The other precursor, to get ahead in time to the 19th Century is (Percy Bysshe) Shelley, who, I guess, is more or less familiar to most of you. How many of you have read any Shelley? [Students give a show of hands] – Okay – And how many have read Shelley’s “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty” here? [Students show of hands less than the first time]. So I thought there are (at least) three pieces by Shelley that will illustrate the phrase.. (or, rather)… illustrate the word – “inspired” – “Inspiration” (that was one of … Read More

Expansive Poetics – 3 (Aboriginal Introduction)

AG: So for this [Naropa class on Expansive Poetics]. I thought I’d bring in a little bit of material that is extraneous, but is considered precursor. This is from Geza Roheim‘s “Children of the Desert“ (concerning) the Western tribes of Central Australia. So this is the only ancient poem that I’ll introduce. [Allen begins reading from anthropologist Roheim’s text] –  “The crowd of women that he had seen in the distance arrived and he had intercourse with every one of them. The man who arose from the ceremonial pole went right into the earth and became a … Read More

Expansive Poetics – 2 (An Anthology of Twentieth-Century International Heroic Poetry)

Allen, continuing from yesterday AG: The procedure for this class that I thought would be best would be (that) within a week the entire anthology (The Naropa Anthology of Twentieth-Century International Heroic Poetry) and its indexes will be xeroxed. It’ll be handy (and) workable, in that the front will have an index (and table of) contents, according to country, and then (arranged) within each language and country chronologically. The back will have this purely chronological list with a bibliography saying exactly what books we got the poems xeroxed out of, and where you can find the poems, and the poems … Read More