[Hart Crane (1899-1932) in 1930 in New York City – Photograph by Walker Evans}] ]
AG (looking back on “Expansive Poetics”, so far): We had started with a few early precursors. I started, (since this was an international shot – or, at least, a Western shot), I started with a couple of poems of (Alexander) Pushkin, which were prophetic, about the poet putting burning coals on his tongue, or the poet meeting a seraphin the middle of the desert who pressed burning coals into his heart. And (then) we had, for expansive rhythm, an early nineteenth-century sample of high
The major poem, or what is considered the major poem (of Fernando Pessoa) was too long to include (in the anthology), it’s about a thirty-page shot, called “Maritime Ode”,
(Ode Marítima) about standing on the dock, looking out into space. Let’s see.. And he also gets into sound – “Ahò-ò-ò-ò-ò-ò-ò-ò-ò-ò-ò – yyy… Schooner ahò-ò-ò-ò-ò-ò-ò-ò-ò-ò-ò-ò-oò -yyy…” – he gets funny.. Let’s see if I can find that page, and he begins playing with the typeface. It’s an enormous long thing.. [Allen quotes from Pessoa’s “Maritime Ode] – “To be on with all those crimes, to be part … Read More
AG: ….like in Whitman. This [Fernando Pessoa’s “Poem in a Straight Line”] is parallel to the line that he [Walt Whitman] has, “These are the thoughts of all men in all ages.” And that’s a great declaration of Whitman – “These thoughts are not my own but these are the thoughts of all men in all times in all ages.
And the next poem (of Pessoa’s) begins, “Tobacco Shop” (Tabacaria) – “I am nothing/That’s all I’ll ever be/Nothing with no willpower to be … Read More
AG: Yes, but in his imagination, Whitmanic… but funnier than Whitman, in a way. It’s a parody of Whitman. It’s taking Whitman up on his word totally and taking it to such a total extreme that Whitman becomes a reductio ad absurdum. And, at the same time, it gives us the same sentimental good wil, charm, humane imagination, tolerance, amusement as Whitman. Just taking Whitman further and becoming a Whitman-freak, a Whitman fanatic, taking … Read More
Allen’s lecture from June 1981 on “Expansive Poetics” continues
AG: (Walt Whitman) – What sort of response did he get? This (Leaves of Grass, first edition) is 1855. What I would like to do now is jump ahead in time. (we might come back to Whitman, but we have (as base) his main statement of self as extendible).
Then there was Fernando Pessoa, who was born in Lisbon on June 13, 1888, and died in 1935, during the great world depression. In Lisbon, he read Walt Whitman, and, around World War … Read More