Meditation and Poetics – 89 – Haiku – 2 (Zenrin-kushu continues)

[“..the wave exhibits the spiritual nature of the moon”]
 [Allen continues with his reading from R.H.Blyth’s classic anthology of Japanese haiku]
AG: So this one that follows covers a great gap of time without actually mentioning the years properly, directly – “Meeting, the two friends laugh aloud./In the grove, the fallen leafs are many.” – [Allen repeats this allegedly Confucian poem] – “Meeting, the two friends laugh aloud./In the grove, the fallen leafs are many.” – [and continues]:
“The cock announces the dawn in the evening./The sun is bright at midnight.”
“The cries of the monkeys echo through the … Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 78 (Phanopoeia, Logopoeia and Melopoeia)

 [“Then nightly sings the staring owl/Tu-whoo!/Tu-whit! tu whoo!”  (William Shakespeare)]  

AG: Okay. I don’t know if we’ve gone through this, but Ezra Pound had three characteristics, or three marks of poetry. He said one was – what I’ve been talking about here – the phanopoeia– P-H-A-N-O-P…how do you spell “poeia” – P-O-E-A? dipthong? – P-O-E-I-A. Thank you. phanopoeia– “the casting of images on the mind’s eye”, the casting of clear, precise images on the mind’s eye. I think his example is a line of Catullus about a crimson curtain blown in the window (to indicate the breeze), or a crimson

Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 67 -(Whitman – 10)

[Allen’s August 1978 Naropa lecture on Whitman’ s ” Song of Myself” continues here]
AG: Then he (Walt Whitman, in “Song of Myself”) goes into a section, in (section) seven, which is more and more close to (William Carlos) Williams’ sense of accommodating inquisitive mind – [Allen reads from Whitman’s “Song of Myself”] – “Has anybody supposed it lucky to be born?/I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know it./I pass death with the dying, and birth with the new-wash’d babe, and am not contain’d between
Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 66 – (Whitman 9)

Student: Allen, what does he (Whitman)  mean by “soul”?
AG: I wonder – What does he mean by “soul”. Well I think we have to read on more because he’s going to define it. And he changes the meaning, actually a number of times. so you can’t really…
Here is one suggestion, a little later on, from the Calamus section [of Leaves of Grass] (I’ve mentioned it before, but see how (it) relates to his celebrating his soul) – [Allen reads from Whitman] – “Are you the new person drawn toward me?/ To begin with, take warning, I am surely far
Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 58 – (Whitman 1)

AG:  So to Walt Whitman  – “When I Read The Book” – so this is some statement of his opening.. (I’m reading from Whitman now, from the Modern Library (edition) of Leaves of Grass, page (twenty) eight – “When I read the book, the biography famous/ And is this, then, (said I), what the author calls a man’s life?/ And so will some one, when I am dead and gone, write my life?/ (As if any man really knew aught of my life;/ Why, even I myself, I often think, know little or nothing of my real life;/Only a few hints –
Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 56 – (Clear Seeing)

AG: (But) to begin with, you’ve got to begin somewhere, so that’s why you begin with the breath – or (William Carlos) Williams might begin with the Red Wheelbarrow, or, in his old age (a very interesting thing, he’s got his old age poem [“The World Contracted to a Recognizable Image“] about how he’s lying in bed and his mind’s fastened to a picture on the wall, like a fly clinging to a wall. As his consciousness was fading, he kept focusing just on this one picture on the hospital wall, from his hospital bed).


Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 55 – (Sunyata)


[Japanese Zen Enso Symbol]

AG: The other aspect of the Mahayana, Mahayana style, as Reggie (Ray), I guess, may have mentioned, is the notion of  sunyata – did he get into that?.. In modern Existentialist terms that’d be “the void”, the big bad..  the big black wolf of the void, or, depending how it’s seen  In modern,

Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 50 (Walt Whitman (intro))



 [Walt Whitman (1819-1892)]

AG: So we move from there [Robert Creeley, William Carlos Williams, Vipassana “focus on detail of the physical world”] to some expansion. Okay, we’ve already got it focused. We’ve got microscopically fine precise detail, grounded. (We’ve) burnt away, to some extent, dependency on fantasy ( or, at least, even if we don’t want to work totally with that, at least we understand that theory..). Or – as (William Carlos) Williams said, “And resolve to dream no more”. Remember the beginning poem, “Thursday”?  – I have had my dream.. /and it has come to nothing, so … Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 49 (Robert Creeley)

AG: Then Peter (Orlovsky) and I went from (Alfred) Stieglitz‘s wife, Georgia O’Keeffe, (a) great painter who had simplified and clarified her sight, to Robert Creeley‘s house in Placidas (New Mexico) , where  Creeley gave me a book of new poems (Creeley also being a student of (William Carlos) Williams.) So I thought this same recovery of our own space in Creeley’s work has equivalent terminology. His word, I always thought, for space was “place” (like, he’s got a little poem about “when we get to heaven we will all have places, they’ll be a … Read More

Meditation and Poetics – 48


AG: Peter (Orlovsky) and I went and spent a little time (two hours) with her (Georgia O’Keeffe). She gave us raspberry juice from her own garden. Local particulars. She was really proud of home-grown raspberry-juice, and she had enough raspberries (at the age of ninety-one)  that she could actually offer a gallon of raspberry-juice, which was terrific. It’s like that (William Carlos) Williams poem [“A Poem for Norman Macleod”] – “No bull” – You can do a lot with what’s around if you know what’s there” – I read that, didn’t I? – “The … Read More