AG: [referring to an earlier Student poem] …the silence of dusk.. and.. the lights going on in the courtyard. See, it was the signal of the lights going on in the courtyard that made.. that locked it in that it was dusk. That’s why it’s pink light, that’s why these people were doing what they were doing (and then it was because the sun was going down,. the wind rising, and the steel cord was flapping against the flagpole). This is, you see, the uncanny suggestion, of, like, the whole atmosphere of … Read More
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..
Why don’t I just go through a few little fragments of not-very-well-known poems by Wordsworth, from “Poems of the Imagination”. (I’ll) just pick out a few lines here and there which give a little haiku-like, or direct, perception, examples of direct perceptual.. examples of the activity of his mind. Like (since) we’re talking about the inertness of his mind, we have to balance it.
He has, (for example), a little poem called “There Was A Boy” – [Allen reads “There Was A Boy” in its entirety] – “There was a Boy, ye knew him … Read More
[Benjamin Robert Haydon – plaster cast of life mask, 1815, of William Wordsworth (via the National Portrait Gallery, London)]
There’s the famous nostalgic “Ode on Intimations Of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”, which I read to my father, several months ago, on his death-bed – and his comment – it was a poem that he’d always loved and wanted me to read aloud to him – it was the last time he heard it (a poem which he’d heard maybe a thousand times in his life, aloud, or read) – but his final comment was, “It’s very beautiful, but … Read More
There’s an odd “personism” (like in late Frank O’Hara) that you get in Whitman (or Whitman established the personalist, which sustained him. In other words, he was dealing in direct phenomena, observation of his own nature and his own senses and his own thoughts and the thought-forms of his mind, whereas there was a funny solidification in Wordsworth, where it was no longer quite personal but everybody became abstracted and generalized, until, so, finally, he was having to accept or reject ideas, rather than observe the flow of ideas, let us say.
One little later political note … Read More
Allen’s Spontaneous and Improvised Poetics Naropa lectures of the summer of 1976 pick up again on August 4th, 1976
AG: I want to continue a little bit more with Wordsworth, because what I did was leave him with disillusionment with the French Revolution. (I left him) with his troubles, his political troubles, which are similar to the troubles that we’ve got [USA, 1976 – sic]. I was looking over “The Prelude” yesterday, where he continues, at great length, about his disillusionment, and I’ll read you just a couple of sentences from that (because it’s not … Read More
AG: .. 1859-1840 – “Sonnets on the Punishment of Death” – Sonnets in favor of capital punishment ! – he’d gone that far! – did you know that?. Wordsworth wrote sonnets in favor of capital punishment! Has anybody ever seen those? Well that really takes the rag off the bush. I mean, it’s so.. it’s sort of like a final horror. The great poet!, Shelley‘s beloved Wordsworth, writing sonnets in favor of capital punishment! This is now forty years after the French Revolution. So I want to read you a couple of little fragments of that so you … Read More
AG: Now we find Wordsworth later (at the very end) writing poems on Law and Order!
A group of “Sonnets Dedicated to Liberty and Order”! I’m not reading them because they’re great poems (although they are interesting), but I’m reading them because, well, what happened? .. what’s the evidence? how did he.. what did he do?
[William Wordsworth, in his youth, aged 28, (1798), oil painting by William Shuter – via Cornell University’s William Wordsworth Collection]
AG: Give Wordsworth credit (Shelley gave Wordsworth credit) for his original mastery of consciousness and revolution and liberty and divine thought and natural power, but there was something disproportionate to its cause, and to Nature, in Wordsworth’s resolution of his revolutionary dilemma (which is a dilemma, not only that we are going through now, , in America, but also, the great classic masters of the past, like (William) Blake, had to go through precisely the same historical circumstance. In … Read More