Meditation and Poetics – 16

 [“Rarely, Rarely, Comest Thou Spirit of Delight (Portrait of Keats and Shelley)”- Gregory Corso, c.1994, (31 1/2″ x 35″), oil on canvas (originally collection of Allen Ginsberg)]

AG: Those who studied with me before or who have worked with me before this may be repeating some matter. Has anybody here read Shelley’s “Adonais”? Can you raise your hand? Has anybody here not ever heard of it? Raise your hand if you haven’t. Come on, you never heard of it there. So (raise your hand). You never heard of it, did you? Okay, so you can raise your hand … Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 15

[Sri Ramakrishna  (1836-1886]

AG: More breath would be in (Percy Bysshe) Shelley.  See, now, spirit.. divagating a little.. the reason that’s interesting (meditation poetics) is poetry is vocalized.  The vocalization is out on the breath.  So, in any case, we’re going to be dealing with the out-breath, one kind of out-breath or another – whether a silent out-breath or an out-breath full of vowels and consonants.  An out-breath full of vibrations or (whatever)  We’ve still got to recognize the breath as the ultimate spirit of poetry and breath is spirit.  Spirit – spiritus.  Latin.  What is spiritus? Student:(Latin?)

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Allen Ginsberg & Bob Dylan at the Grave of Jack Kerouac

This little excerpt, this classic excerpt, from Bob Dylan’s lost epic, “Renaldo and Clara” (courtesy of the essential “The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg“, Jerry Aronson‘s deluxe two-disc DVD set).  Bob and Allen, in 1975, in Lowell cemetery (Edson cemetery), on the occasion of a stop-over on the legendary Rolling Thunder tour, famously standing together, beside Jack Kerouac’s grave, musing, (Allen’s certainly taking the lead), in memento mori.  Allen (gesticulating towards the grave):”So that’s what’s gonna happen to you?”  Dylan: “No, I want to be in an unmarked grave.” The clip begins with … 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

Spontaneous Poetics 116 – (Wordsworth – 2)

[Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825)]

AG: [Wordsworth] – I want to move away from his great poetry and get into what is sometimes considered to be his bad poetry. As a transition piece – a poem he wrote on the French Revolution. It was composed in 1804. He was already a little bit disillusioned. In a way, I was thinking of these poems in relation to our own national supposed disillusionment with the ‘Sixties [Allen is speaking in America in 1976 here] and I’m giving Wordsworth now as a little sample of what kind of … Read More

Spontaneous Poetics – 48 ( Shelley and Hart Crane 2)

June 23, 1976, (Naropa Institute), a new class. Allen picks up from the previous class, with a discussion on Hart Crane and Shelley and a poetry that might be life-affirming and “speakable”.

AG: I guess I’ll begin. There’s going to be a poetry reading tonight – John Ashbery and Dick Gallup. That’ll be after this class. And tomorrow night, there’s going to be (a) (Chogyam) Trungpa discourse – “Sutra” (which will be open, free, to all members of the student body). So if anybody hasn’t picked up on Trungpa’s taste or vibration, tomorrow night everybody’s invited. It’s … Read More

Spontaneous Poetics – 47 (Shelley and Hart Crane 1)

[Joseph Severn (1793- 1879) Posthumous Portrait of Shelley Writing Prometheus UnBound (1845), oil on canvas, Keats-Shelley Memorial House, Rome, Italy]

AG: We were onto the subject of time and breath and (now) I want to skip a couple of centuries and shift to (Percy Bysshe) Shelley, to hear another kind of breath. (Also, I should say, as far as I know, I will be staying here until the end of the session. I won’t be here in the second session, (or I certainly won’t be teaching in the second session, because I’ll be called home. My father isn’t … Read More

For Homer – (Gregory Corso)

Twelve years to the day since Gregory Corso passed away. We celebrate his autochthnic spirit!

This footage (above) of Corso, reciting his poem “For Homer”, with music by Nicholas Tremulis and featuring footage of Corso, Tremulis, and poet, Ira Cohen, dates from 1993.

and here’s a photo of  Gregory’s grave-site in Rome (buried close to his beloved Shelley)