Allen Ginsberg & Tom Schwartz on John Milton

Tom Schwartz: There’s a very good book by F.T.PrinceThe Italian Element in Milton’s Verse which is a nice short book which gets to the heart of the matter. Milton was very fascinated with Italian poets of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, just before him, Tasso, in particular, and the standard Italian line contained eleven syllables, and for various reasons, a ten-syllable line works in English (mainly because we don’t have so many vowels and we have heavier consonants) and, basically, wnat Milton prosody comes down to in the  … Read More

Allen Ginsberg on the Opening of Paradise Lost

[William Blake – The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden (1808)]
Of Mans First Disobedience, and the Fruit
Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal tast
Brought Death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat,
Sing Heav’nly Muse, that on the secret top
Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire
That Shepherd, who first taught the chosen Seed,
In the Beginning how the Heav’ns and Earth
Rose out of Chaos: or if Sion Hill
Delight thee more, and Siloa‘s brook that flow’d… Read More

Ginsberg Reads Milton

Student: Has he (Milton)  (argued) to drop rhymes?
AG: No, but we’re talking… he’s talking about Paradise Lost,  His earlier works he had rhymes (and some not-rhymes). He’s a great rhymer, he knows how to rhyme.
Student:  (A fifty-percent thing, you know  – he doesn’t, and then he follows it with rhymes)
AG: Me too, yeah, my first book (The Gates of Wrath)  is all rhymes, and I go back to it occasionally. But he’s saying for heroic verse. For heroic verse, heroic rhetorical verse, that rhyme
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Milton’s Poetic Measure

AG: Now how dare we assume that it’s meant for speaking aloud anyway? (aside from all the evidence that I’ve been producing in the last four months, three months). Well, what we have is (John) Milton’s own book on that. And so, he’s got for Paradise Lost  (not in your book but in a complete Paradise Lost),  there’s a thing, a little preface he gives to Paradise Lost called “The Verse” – (and he’s telling about the verse-forms). So this was his particular scheme. Now he did Greek and Latin and he knew it real well and he wrote … Read More

“Harry, whose tuneful and well-measured song..”

[John Milton (1608-1674)]

[Henry Lawes (1596-1662)]

Allen Ginsberg’s 1990 Basic Poetics class at Naropa,  continuing from last week.

AG: On page three-two-four – “To Mr Henry Lawes on His Airs” – “Airs” – tomb – “Lawes and Jenkyns be thy guest…” – remember from Ezra Pound? Pisan Cantos? – “Lawes and Jenkyns guard thy rest/Dolmetsch ever be thy guest” – same  Henry Lawes, the musician – “Harry..”  (Henry Lawes)  (hey! Harry!)

“Harry, whose tuneful and well-measured song/First taught our English music how to span/Words with just note and accents, not to scab/With Midas’ ears, committing  short … Read More

The Decline of English Poetry

[William Cowper (1731-1800) – “… William Cowper, who was completely crazy …”]

Allen’s been discussing the poems of Robert Herrick

AG: There’s a nice, … but then, something that happens now, from here on out. It started. You got a shot of it in (John) Donne with that masochistic religion, and the interiorization of the spirit into some kind of deus ex machina outside, on the other side of the clouds, that’s supposed to come and rape your mind. And then, from then on, there’s all these different varieties..it gets squeezed..English poetry gets squeezed more and more into this … Read More

Allen Ginsberg Reading in Baltimore – 1978 – 3 (Contest of Bards)

vain3

[Väinämöinen in the Kalevala, the model for the Old Bard in Allen Ginsberg’s “Contest of Bards”]

continuing from last weekend

Allen presents, as the last part of his reading at the Maryland Institute College of Art, February 16. 1978, a complete reading of his recently-completed epic poem,  “Contest of Bards”

AG: (The poem was written in) 1977..so, just about a year and.. a year and a month ago, here in town. (in Baltimore) – -[Editorial note – Ginsberg also elsewhere noted that sections were written in Washington DC] It’s divided into three parts. and I had been reading all … Read More

Comprehensive Reading

Edmund Spenser (1552-1599)

AG: Edmund Spenser is a colossus, and he’s so big that I think we’ll go around him Except, maybe, one or two, one or two little short things – the Epithalamion – a big Leviathan poem here, marriage poem. What I would suggest is that you go home and read it. It’s got a great stanza form, it’s got a great rhythmic form. So what we might do (here) is read just the first and last stanzas, just to get the stanzaic form get a taste..  Page 162 – I’m sorry..

Well, he’s very brilliant in, you … Read More

Horace – 5

[Allen continues with his review of his classroom anthology]AG: And the Sapphic Catullan form was picked up by, as we have in here [in this xerox anthology],  Sir Walter) Raleigh and (Sir Philip) Sidney. So, if you continue turning (the pages of the anthology), you’ll get up to Raleigh. (If you can find that, it’s about three-quarters of the way – okay, let’s find the Raleigh first, then we can pay undivided attention) – about two-thirds down – It was called the perfect Sapphic! … here was are – the perfect Sapphic in English) –  about two-thirds of the way down, at … Read More

Spontaneous Poetics – 72 (continuing)

[Allen Ginsberg and Andrei Voznesensky in June 1985 in Allen’s New York City East 12th Street apartment – photograph by Hank O’Neal]

 
Student: I’d like to get back to the echoes..the thoughts echoing densities of speech, or something like that. The thought that comes out has a certain density of substance.
AG: Okay, when you said that, what came into my mind was, “What does he mean, asking a question like that?”. And I heard it almost like a little silver flash – “What does he mean, asking a question like that?”  – “What does he mean, asking a question … Read More