Sapphic Concision (“On Neal Cassady’s Ashes”)

Allen Ginsberg’s 1980 Naropa “Basic Poetics” class continues from here

AG: I took a poem that I had written, that was in an almost-Sapphic style, in 1968, “On Neal Cassady’s Ashes”, (which is a little classic, which is in some anthologies already. I don’t know if any of you are familiar with it) …Yeah…and I re-wrote it last night, also, so it would fit (the) Sapphic form. I had to take out about six words and it all fit, so it goes… And I found it..  I had done it unconsciously already, because the original first line was … Read More

William Carlos Williams’ Sappho

We continue today with transcription from Allen’s May 29, 1980, Basic Poetics classes at Naropa.  We’ve almost come to the end of this series of transcriptions.  Following on from an examination of Christopher Smart and his “Jubilate Agno”, Allen examines William Carlos Williams‘ translation (in Paterson) of a fragment of Sappho.’

AG : …(there are several) funny things about Williams’ Sapphic – [Allen reads] –          “That man is peer of the gods who,/face to face, sits listening/to your sweet speech and lovely/laughter. It is this that rouses a tumult/in my breast/At mere sight of you/ my … Read More

Basic Poetics Continuing – (Sappho)

We’ve been transcribing and  serializing Allen’s 1980 Basic Poetics classes at Naropa and we’re almost at the end. In May 15, May 18, and May 22, he discusses Sappho and the Sapphic meter and gives various examples of poets working with this ancient form  (see our previous transcription of these classes, for example, here, herehere, and here)

Picking up on his penultimate class. conducted May 26 1980

Sappho  – translated by Richmond Lattimore  (from Greek Lyrics (Chicago, 1960).

Throned in splendor, deathless, O Aphrodite, child of Zeus, charm-fashioner, I entreat you not with griefs and bitternesses to … Read More

Allen Ginsberg – Richland College reading – part 2

Allen Ginsberg’s 1980 Richland College reading – continuing from yesterday

AG: So I would say now move on to.. 1956- moving on from 1956 to 1976. I have a series of poems which will require some music also – “Father Death Blues” – if we can get together on the stage –

My father died in 1976 in midsummer and I wrote a series of poems while he was alive because I spent a lot of time with him during the previous..during the winter that he was wasting, He was quite old and not in pain because it was a … Read More

Composition and Condensation – 1

[Basil Bunting tries his hand at editing Shakespeare]

AG:  And then there was another thing.. I was talking with…Rachel [sic]…with Rachel..and we were talking about composition and condensation of poems and ..some ideas crystallized that might be useful. I’ve talked about it before I thought but apparently I had never said it around Rachel (tho; I thought I said it in any number of..over a dozen classes) there was that idea of Basil Bunting‘s, which (Ezra) Pound handed on, which was that poetics was condensation – and I think I’ll talk about that – and I’ve applied it in … Read More

Allen Ginsberg Reading At Warwick University, 1979

allen_ginsberg_1979_-_cropped

[Allen Ginsberg at the Atheneum Bookshop, Amsterdam, November 1979. photo: Hans van Dijk / Dutch National Archives]

Allen Ginsberg Reading At Warwick University, 1979  (continuing from yesterday)

AG: I’ll begin since – oh we were discussing the subject . I’ll begin with a song dedicated to another fellow in prison, David Solomon who’s in Brighton…in Bristol jail, as he was sentenced to ten years as part of that big LSD conspiracy bust about a year or two ago – what was the name of that? Julie Operation Julie

[Allen sings a version of “Dope Fiend Blues”- “Dope Fiend Blues Shuffle”]… Read More

Ginsberg on Late Auden

 

W.H.Auden (1907-1973)

  [Allen (at Naropa in 1980) continues his survey through a xeroxed classroom anthology of the Sapphic form, paying particular attention today to the late work of W.H.Auden] AG: So from that (from Robert Bridges),  we get into, I think you have the Vernon Watkins and the.. Student: Auden AG: There’s Auden (W.H.Auden), and then from the front, mixed up in the front there’s Vernon Watkins and Louis MacNeice .. had rough Sapphics – (it’s way up front, we don’t need it now). Auden, however, is.. funny. So I think I’ll take two brief Auden Sapphics … Read More

Swinburne, Pound and Bridges

[Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)]

AG: Did I do that last time? [Swinburne’s Hendecasyllabics]. If you listen to the way he handles it, it’s a direct transmission from him up to Ezra Pound up to modern days and into this classroom – “In the month of the long decline of roses/I, beholding the summer dead before me,/Set my face to the sea and journeyed silent,/Gazing eagerly where above the sea-mark/Flame as fierce as the fervid eyes of lions/Half-divided the islands of the sunset;/Till I heard as it were a noise of waters/Moving tremulous under feet of angels/Multitudinous, out of … Read More

Sapphics continued – (Tennyson)

 

             

Alfred, Lord Tennyson ( 1809-1892)- Photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron

Allen continues with his survey of Sapphics, going through further pages of his xerox-compiled classroom anthology  AG:  [to another late-comer] – You can take one of those that says “Sapphic anthology, two bucks”…and then the bag.. not two bucks for one paper.. And we’re about two thirds down the bottom..to…(Edmund) Spenser… Okay, We’re on that Spenser page? – Sidney? – (the) (Philip) Sidney and the (Walter) Raleigh? Ok? – So we read those, then I read you aloud Raleigh’s notes on Quantitative Verse. So … Read More

Anselm Hollo on Fragments

 

Sappho, fragments of  poems, Graeco-Roman Egypt, 2nd Century AD, in the collection of the Bodleian Library, Oxford

 

Anselm Hollo (1934-2013) teaching at Naropa

The following is a transcription of a class, given on June 25 1986, at Naropa, by the late much-missed poet-translator, polymath  Anselm Hollo, nominally on “The Greek Anthology” but, more specifically, on the poem as “fragment”.   In this first half, he addresses the notion, particularly with reference to Sappho (in Guy Davenport’s translation). In the second half (tomorrow), he gives several instances of where his contemporaries have “used the idea of the … Read More