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

More on Metrics – 3

AG: Well, it’s not that that you need to be able to understand it [Greek prosody] to write a poem. It’s not perverting your speech to get those rhythms. Rather, it is that speech does have those rhythms, and that you can follow the cadences with those rhythms, that when we were taught in drama-school and high-school primary rhythms, it was very rare that anything was taught beyond the four variants of iamb, trochee, anapest and dactyl.  – that seemed to be the range of  the English ear, or awareness of rhythm, or American high-school awareness of rhythm, … Read More

More on Metrics

[Allen Ginsberg’s classroom hand-out – “A Synopsis of Metrical Systems”]
continuing from here
Allen’s pedagogical insistence on quantative prosody, on the minutae of classical prosody, was something he came back to again and again with his students at Naropa  (see, for example  – one of many examples – here). In transcription, it makes, perhaps, for some somewhat tedious transcript – to hear the subtle and various distinctions he’s making, it really becomes necessary to listen closely to the audio (happily, here available). Allen does employ here a somewhat unique teaching method to lighten things up – … Read More

A Brief Detour on Metrics -1


Allen continuing his class on Sir Philip Sidney‘s poem  [Astrophil and Stella – Sonnet 1 – “Loving in truth, and fain in verse my love to show”]

Student; So after that?

AG: Well, I don’t know. What happened to the “of”? – [”That She, dear She might take some pleasure/Of my pain”] – “of my pain”, “pleasure of my pain” – That’s one of the problems of the transcription. So we’ll substitute the “That” for the “Of”, we’ve still got six

“Pleasure might cause her read,/ reading might make her know”, no, “Pleasure/ might cause her/ read,/ … Read More

Horace – 3


Picking up again on Allen’s 1980 “Sapphics” class, going through his classoom anthology  AG: So that was..  [Horace and Thomas Wyatt (bemoaning wasted opportunity)]  Okay..also, there’s a great poem by Francois Villon  about an old.. It’s called “Ballade de la belle  Heaumière  aux filles de joie”“The Complaint of the Fair Helm-Maker Grown Old”). It’s a real meticulous description, like her lacking her teeth, and the rheum matter of her eye, and the sagging belly collapsed –  a really horrific description!  This also refers a little bit to the Catullus that we just passed by, that we … Read More

Sappho’s Hymn to Aphrodite – 2

Sappho’s “Hymn to Aphrodite” read in the original Greek in 1981 by Professor Stephen G Daitz ((including reproduction of Ancient Greek tonal inflections) for SORGLL (Society for the Oral Reading of Greek and Latin Literature)

Ποικιλόθρον᾽ ὰθάνατ᾽ ᾽Αφροδιτα, παῖ Δίοσ, δολόπλοκε, λίσσομαί σε μή μ᾽ ἄσαισι μήτ᾽ ὀνίαισι δάμνα, πότνια, θῦμον.

ἀλλά τυίδ᾽ ἔλθ᾽, αἴποτα κἀτέρωτα τᾶσ ἔμασ αύδωσ αἴοισα πήλγι ἔκλυεσ πάτροσ δὲ δόμον λίποισα χρύσιον ἦλθεσ

ἄρμ᾽ ὐποζεύξαια, κάλοι δέ σ᾽ ἆγον ὤκεεσ στροῦθοι περὶ γᾶσ μελαίνασ πύκνα δινεῦντεσ πτέῤ ἀπ᾽ ὠράνω αἴθεροσ διὰ μέσσω.

αῖψα δ᾽ ἐχίκοντο, σὺ δ᾽, ὦ μάσαιρα μειδιάσαισ᾽ ἀθάνατῳ προσώπῳ, … Read More

Sappho continues – (Hymn to Aphrodite – Ed Sanders)

[Ed Sanders performs Sappho”  (accompanied by Steven Taylor) from a 1990 release “Songs in Ancient Greek“] AG: So to begin with now, beginning with Ed Sanders again.. but a different recording by Ed Sanders than the one I found last night. I mentioned that he was working with the five-finger electronic pulse-lyre (to substitute for the four-stringed tortoise-shell lyre). Mixolydian mode – I don’t know if he’s actually using a Mixolydian Mode – This [that I’m about to play] is a performance by Ed Sanders of the “Hymn to Aphrodite” with his pulse-lyre – December 1978, I think, … Read More

Davenport’s Sappho and Alkman

Following on from yesterday’s post. Here’s a few more selections from GuyDavenport‘s book of classic Greek translations. We’ll start off with, arguably, Sappho‘s most famous lyric – phainetai moi  (Sappho 31) –  Φαίνεταί μοι κήνος ἴσος θέοισινἔμμεν ὤνηρ, ὄστις ἐναντίος τοιἰζάνει, καὶ πλυσίον ἆδυ φωνεύ-        σας ὑπακούεικαὶ γελαίσας ἰμερόεν, τό μοι μάνκαρδίαν ἐν στήθεσιν ἐπτόασεν·ὡς γὰρ εὔιδον βροχέως σε, φώνας        οὺδὲν ἔτ’ εἴκει·ἀλλὰ κὰμ μὲν γλῶσσα ἔαγε, λέπτον δ’αὔτικα χρῷ πῦρ ὐπαδεδρόμακεν,ὀππάτεσσι δ’ οὐδὲν ὄρημ’, ἐπιρρόμ-        βεισι δ’ ἄκουαι.ἀ δέ μίδρως κακχέεται, τρόμος δέπαῖσαν ἄγρει, χλωροτέρα δὲ … Read More



In preparation for an upcoming spotlight on Greek and classical texts on the Allen Ginsberg  Project in the coming weeks, a post on a book that is sadly out of print – Guy Davenport‘s Archilochos, Sappho, Alkman – Three Lyric Poets of the Late Greek Bronze Age (fortunately, it’s been expanded and reprinted, and is freely available from New Directions as 7 Greeks – the additional poets are Anakreon, Herakleitos, Diogenes and Herondas)



                                                             [Guy Davenport  (1927-2005)]

Is it too early to note what an extraordinary figure Davenport was? (even outside of his remarkable … Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 178


Two weeks since the last “Round-Up”, so let’s get right down to it… Not-to-be-missed – Distant Neighbors, the Selected Letters between Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder, just published by Counterpoint. Watch the video of the two together, in conversation, at the recent (2014)  Festival of  Faiths in Louisville, Kentucky (moderated by publisher, Jack Shoemaker).  There’ll be conversing again on June 27 in Santa Rosa. An interview with Gary Snyder on “Buddhism, Beat Poetry and Environmentalism” may be accessed here Jack Kerouac‘s notebooks –  Joshua Rothman at The New Yorker reminded us of … Read More