Thursday, April 28, 2016

Basic Poetics (Ballads - Lord Randall)


               [Lord Randall - illustration by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939)  from Some British Ballads, 1918]



AG: "Lord Randall"..what is.. has anybody read Lord Randall here? How many have read "Lord Randall" already? And how many have not?  [show of hands] - okay, then we might as well read it through. Is anybody pleased to read it? Would anybody like to read it? Is there anybody that's… yes, you, [to Student],  you know that one before? you've read it aloud ever before? ever?
Student: This?
AG: Yeah
Student; No, I haven't read this one before.
AG :But you've read it ?
Student: No, I haven't.
AG: Haven't even read it yet?
Student: No.
AG: Sure, try it, start it off.
Student: Can you tell me what page?
AG: Oh, page 82.

Well, what we are hitting are…well, of course, in this anthology, you've got the classic ballads, (or many of the classic ballads), but we're hitting the high-spots of the classic ballads, the ones that echo in every poetic head that's got any familiarity with ballads - and "Lord Randall" is one of the major ones.I actually echoes in everybody's head, now, because (Bob) Dylan adapted it in "..Hard Rain" ("A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall") - What's the first line of "..Hard Rain"?


                        [Bob Dylan typescript - early working draft for "It's A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall"]


Student(s): "Where have you been, my blue-eyed son"
AG: "Where have you..", or "Where have you been..", or.. "Where have you been" or "Where did you go..?
Student(s): "Where have you been my blue-eyed son/Where have you been my handsome young man?"  - or, "Where have you been, Lord Randall, my son/ And where have you been my handsome young man?". So this is where Dylan got that ballad, and the.. one of his major images in other songs, such as "It's Alright, Ma, (I'm Only Bleeding)". You know that basic image, Dylan image, you know - his relation with his mother - as wounded? - also comes from this genre, of this being in the ballads ("It's Alright, Ma, (I'm Only Bleeding)"), in this case, "Lord Randall", in other ballad cases, either treacherous mother or comforting mother but the son comes home to die and is bleeding to death. So, go on.

Student: Ok, "Lord Randall' - (Student gives a classroom reading of "Lord Randall", begins reading, ""O where ha' you been, Lord Randal my son?/And where ha'  you been, my handsome young man?""…..""And wha' did she give you, Lord Randal, my son?/And what did she give you, my handsome young man?"/"Eels fried in a pan; mother, mak my bed soon…."")

AG: Yeah, as soon as you get to those eels, you know something's…. "Eels fried in a pan!"- Does anybody know the tune of "Lord Randall here? Can anybody sing just one verse before we continue

Student:  I can sing you...
AG: Well, it's not the same as the tune (Bob Dylan gives it)
Student: I don't know it.
AG: No-one else?
[There follows several unsuccesful efforts, including by Allen, to sing the melody of the poem - (AG: "I ha' been to the greenwood, mother, mak my bed soon".."For I'm wearied wi' hunting and fain would lie down" - "I'm wearied wi' hunting and fain would lie..", fain would lie..".."fain-would-lie-down" - how does it go? does anybody remember? - the last line - the famous ballad line - "fain-would-lie-down" - you remember, Pat (sic)? , you've heard it, haven't you? - I think Joan Baez sings it - probably - "Where have you been, Lord Randall my son?/Where ha' you been, my handsome young man?/I have been at the greenwood".. no, "I ha' been at the greenwood, mother, make my bed soon/For I'm weary with hunger and fain would lie down" - That's not right! - Way off, way off! - Oh well, I probably should have got that.. but [to Student], go on, okay..

Student (continuing): ""And what gat your leavins, Lord Randal, my son?/And wha' gat your leavins, my handsome young man?""….""What d'ye leave to your true-love, Lord Randal, my son?/What d'ye leave to your true-love, my handsome young man?"/"I leave her hell and fire; mother mak my bed soon,/ For I'm sick at the heart, and I fain wad lie down""

AG: Well, it's real terrific and ultimate at the end. There's a real curse left behind, but he's killed too, with a pan of fried eels!  So why is that so haunting? (because it is haunting -anybody whoever's heard it before - the repetition for one thing, there's a cumulative repetition). There's very little variation (from stanza to stanza), a little bit of variation from stanza to stanza but the formula for each stanza is exactly the same - and then you fill in with one astonishing image,  like, "what gat your leavens..?" - "My hawks and my hounds" - "what becam of them..?" - "They stretched their legs out and died" - and those are the only changes from stanza to stanza, you could run through it also, fast -  "what becam of them..?", then, "They stretched their legs out and died", "..I fear you are poisoned.." - "..yes, I'm poisoned", "What d'ye leave to your mother..?" - "Four and twenty milk (cows)",  "What d'ye leave to your sister..?" - "my gold and..silver",  "What d'ye leave to your brother..?" - "My house(s) and..land", "What d'ye leave to your true-love..?" - "I leave her hell and fire.." - And that's like.. So that's the only changes from stanza to stanza. Everything else is the same - which is real good if you're singing, because you get into it, you know after the fifth stanza, everybody's.. everybody knows the whole cycle, as you remember to sing along together, everybody knows the whole cycle, and everybody has a great time, like, hitting it, and getting right into the lines, because they all know it by now after four or five stanzas, and whoever can remember the change from stanza to stanza is the big hero of the song-fest - Well, you've gone through that, I guess, with the..you know, any number of old Christmas songs.

So the characteristic that's interesting here is the mortal finality of it (that is, returning to his mama) and some really violent cut that's been done (a cut, (in) a relationship with his girlfriend - amazing). So the ballads are frank, frankly violent (not only) violent, but frank about it too, overt, not namby-pamby, but really outright to the point where it comes almost (an) archetypal summary of a whole life-time in just a couple of lines, like  - ""And wha'  did she give you..?…."Eels fried in a pan…I'm sick at the heart and fain wad lie down"". 
So..Edward...

Peter Orlovsky: Did she just make a mistake in cooking them, or wants to kill him, or what?

AG: I assume that she.. Well, I don't know, that's an idea. She might have been just sort of like a completely awkward wife or something, an awkward girlfriend that didn't know how to feed her man, didn't know how.. was out of synch with folk cooking? But I assume it was because she..she did it on purpose.
How does Dylan change that. Let's see - "Where have you been my handsome young one?/
Where have you been.."

Student: Blue-eyed son
AG: "Blue-eyed son"
Student: Where have you been...
AG: "Where have you been my darling young one?" - What's his first-line answer? Does anybody remember?
Peter Orlovsky: "I've been to the highest.. mountain.."?
AG: Is that the first line in it?
Peter Orlovsky: No, that's not the first..
AG: What's the first?
Student:"I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways"
AG: What?
Student:"I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways"
AG: That's pretty good!
Student: "Twelve misty mountains", also.
AG: What?
Student: Twelve misty mountains."
AG: And the first one is "I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways"?
Student: I think there's something else.
AG: Well. he has the same, he has a similar, formula, but, actually, "I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways" is just
Student:  "I've been out in front of a dozen dead oceans"
AG: Yeah, one after another, like that.But I wondered, what the first… how he started it all off, when he was going to do his variation, how he started it off? I don't know, but "six crooked highways" is pretty good, it's almost as good as "eels fried in a pan", "I've been at the greenwood"….


Bob Dylan-A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall  (1964)

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately sixteen-and-three-quarter minutes in and continuing until approximately twenty-six-and-three-quarter minutes in]

to be continued….





Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Basic Poetics - (Ballads continued - Two Sisters)







Allen Ginsberg lecturing on the early English Ballad tradition continues

AG: Basically a ballad is a narrative. It tells a story. It tells it fast . it might have a stop-frame or freeze-frame in it (where there's a lament and a repeat of various lines). Jump-cuts, very fast collage, like highlights, starting with the beginning and swiftly moving into the action, then jumping, with great ellipses (like a haiku), so tremendous time and space or tragedy or action, so, jump to the end of the action, or climax of the action and then show the result - somebody..the knight goes out, the next stanza he's dead with the crows plucking at his eyes; the next stanza, his lady is mourning for him on the castle wall, as fast as that. So, in a way, it's surreal, (we're not talking about any specific poem yet), in a way it's Surrealist (from a twentieth-century point-of-view), because it moves so fast, as fast as the mind moves when the mind recollects. So, in some ways, it could be considered a very modern form, as it has been used in modern times by (Bob) Dylan, or by any of the ballad-makers (but Dylan particularly excellent in fast jump-cuts.) - "Jump-cut"?  Familiar phrase? from cinema? - that you're looking at one thing and, all of a sudden, there's a fast jump to.. 




The jump cut is the..  In the melodrama, when the choo-choo train is coming down on the tracks, and the lady is bound down on the tracks, and you see the train coming and, all of a sudden you see the lady, and then you see the guy riding on his horse to get her, and then you see the train coming closer, and then you see the guy approaching the bridge, and then you see the lady on the track, and you see the guy jumping off his horse and running to the bridge, and then you see the train coming from the other side of the bridge, and the guy's running to the middle, and then you see the lady, and then the next thing, they're both.. they both have jumped off the bridge and are slowly diving into the water, and the train is going off - So it's a series of jump-cuts. So ballad has some of that fast action to it.


                                                                 [Helen Adam  (1909-1993)] 


also… Ballads, apparently, have an interesting magical quality (that one of the poet-teachers here [at Naropa], Helen Adam specifically dug). And there are some lectures on ballad in the library that Helen gave here and are worth listening to, with her Scotch (sic) voice reading them [Editorial note - these have now been transcribed and are available as part of our Allen Ginsberg Project archive - see November & December of 2012]

[There follows a brief discussion about the location of the tapes in the Naropa library - Editorial note - these tapes have now been digitalized and made readily available - see here - "So they'll be in the library and they're worth hearing. If you want to check out ballads, if you get into ballads, there's that archive we have at the library (so ask George (sic)  for it or…."   "Ok, maybe we'll try and listen to that, (the Helen Adam tape) maybe Thursday I'll bring it in]

The thing that, the sort of thing that Helen liked (which turns me onto it also). in 
"The Two Sisters", (on page eighty-one), was at the end (And I'm assuming that we've read a little of this, anyway, so I can skip to the highlights - (It) was the blonde sister, the youngest sister, as I remember, was pushed into the water by her eldest - "The youngest stood upon a stane/The  eldest came and threw her in" (stanza nine), and she cries to her sister, "O sister, sister, save my life/I swear I will never be no man's wife" - and "Sometimes she sank, sometimes she swam,/ she came down here on bonny mill-dam" - 
"O out it came the miller's son/ And saw the fair maid swimming in".  Then, she's washed up, she's dead.
"And by there came a harper fine/ That harped to the king at dine/When he did look that lady upon./He sigh'd and made a heavy moan/ He's ta'en three locks o' yellow hair/(And) with them strung his harp so fair/ The first tune he did play and sing/ Was,"Farewell to my father the king"/The next tune that he did play and sing/Was, "Farwell to my mother, the queen" The lasten tune that he play'd  then/Was, was "Wae to my sister, fair Ellen" 
 - So the hair of his drowned maiden is being used as the strings of a harp  to prophesy - or just to make prophecy. 
So it's, like, really outlandish, garish, fantastic, pretty, magicak, gossamer.

A ballad, apparently, is a form that you can use your imagination on and get frantic within, push to the limit of dream surrealist imagination, without violating the form. In other words, it's a form that encourages that. So if you do want to write ghostly magical poetry, ballad is a good form to use. There was one that I had in Gates of Wrath - "I rose at midnight in the dark" (it begins with the first line - "I rose at midnight in the dark". If you want to see what I did with it, when I was twelve, or twenty, twenty-two..

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately ten minutes in, and concluding at approximately sixteen-and-three-quarter minutes in]



Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Basic Poetics (The Douglas Tragedy & Metrics)









Continuing/picking up, after a short break, with Allen Ginsberg's "Basic Poetics" Naropa classes. In this one, (dating from June 1980), he continues his discussion of early English poetry, English & Scottish ballads, stressing this time the alliterative aspects of the verse (and including a brief and summary discourse on traditional (classical) metrics) 

AG: Did most of you get to read the ballad section in the book [the Norton Anthology] ? - Those who did not, raise your hands. It's alright if you didn't. Those who did actually read it raise your hands. The ballads sections of the book. Okay, well, we should get on and read them (because it's too much for me to read through all the ballads here, but what I would like to do is go through the parts that I was interested in, and some supplementary ballads). 

"The Douglas Tragedy", on page seventy-nine, goes on and on and on, and it's a story, but there are.. in stanza thirteen, there's one really interesting image - ""Hold up, hold up, Lord William, she says/For I fear that you are slain"/"T'is nothing but the shadow of my scarlet cloak/That shines in the water so plain." - It's kind of very crystal clear, that one image. And, at the end, a theme that returns in ballads over and over, the entwining of the rose and the briar, the doomed lovers are knocked off and wound up being buried in the same churchyard - "Lord William was buried in St Marie's Kirk/Lady Marg'ret in Marie's quire;/ Out o' the lady's grave grew a bonny red rose/And out o'the knight's a brier/ And they twa met, and they twa plat/And fain they wad be near/And a' the world might ken right weel,/They were twa lovers dear - So, that occurs over and over in ballads, just as an image. You've heard of that? The twining of the rose and the briar? - Actually, remember that little, that (Ezra) Pound Canto [Canto  LXXX]  that I read had the same image at the end? - "Tudor indeed is gone and every rose"? - that passage that begins, "Tudor indeed is gone and every rose" from Pound's Canto, one of the Pisan Cantos, had a little ballad-like quatrain set that buried, I guess The War of the Roses, with the bodies of the contestants, twining together with briers above, I guess, I don't know,I've forgotten what the phrase was. Do you remember my reading that Canto? You remember I read a Pound Canto?  - Well, that was in there. He just took it to, like, took that one image to, like, final lengths..

Student: The last class…

AG: Yeah

Student: ..about the assignment you gave

AG: Yes

Student: Tell me whether I'm corrrect or not. A…

AG: Iambic tetrameter, I think it was.

Student: Right, so it would be soft-hard, soft-hard, soft hard,.. and then four lines A and B..

AG: Well either AA or BB.. but what was the form that we…?

Student (2)   AABB or  AA BAB.

AG: Right. We had started with the ..(William) Dunbar, didn't we? - that poem by Dunbar. You could do it that way, It might be simplest - the Dunbar form which was.. AABB?

Student:  Yeah. Can you give me an example of just one line?

AG: Er..well,right there. Well, two lines or one line?  The ballad we were just looking at - "Rise up, rise up, now Lord Douglas, she says", "Rise up, rise up, my seven bold sons" - "Rise up, rise up, my seven bold sons" - that's, also, it's a looser, but it's, an iambic tetrameter line. But, we'll get to more of them. But if you go back to Dunbar (what page is Dunbar on, do you know?), go back a couple of pages to Dunbar - "Our plesance here is all vain glory/This fals world is but transitory,/The flesh is bruckle, the Feynd is slee" - that would be the most regular, the most obviously regular line - "The flesh is brittle, the Fiendd is slee"

Student: Well, isn't that four?

AG: Yes. Four. Tetrameter. Four

Student: I thought you said Tet…

AG; No, that was the…that was the offensive that the Vietnamese launched! - Tetra - tetra - tres - I guess tertiary would be three, wouldn't it? - trimeter is three! - monometer, dimeter, trimeter,tetrameter, pentameter - what is heptameter? and  sextameter? sex.. and hexameterof course - hexameters.. septenarii? - (William) Blake's which are seven accents are called septenarii. Blake's long long line (I guess, septameter). Octameter? What's next? - I'll find out. I've got a little (list here)  pentameter..  hexameter?  heptameter? octameter? - octameter is eight - I don't think they go up any further in my book here. What, nonometer? - What's ten, hendec-? What is a hendecasyllable, a ten syllable [Editorial note - no, an eleven-syllable] line? - I have some outlines of meters and lines which I'll have xeroxed and handed out next time, which will give you the classical Greek meters, which is what you were really basically asking, the various different metrical systems, particularly Greek, which are the basis of the Western Civilization ones, English. Two-syllable, three-syllable, and four-syllable feet  (what you were just asking about was a two-syllable foot - iambic- da-da - and then, you were asking what it was - da-da da-da da-da da-da - Then there is a.. So that's iambic, and then there's trochaic - da-da da-da, "ty-ger, ty-ger burning bright" and then there are three-syllable feet da-da-dum da-da-dum da-da dum da-da dum - or dadd-a dadd-a dadd-a dadd-a  - Da-da - anapestic and dactylic. And there are four-syllable feet also, which are really interesting, which I use a lot, and which is good for glorious poetry, for dance, you know for sort of a.. massive, majestic march rhythms - da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da, dan-dada-da, dan-dada-da, or, de dada da, de dada da, de dada da. Ed Sanders is an expert on that, on those meters, and we'll run into them sooner or later so I' might as well pass out some…I might as well get it all…It is all outlined here, beautiful things like choriambic meters - da dada da - is choriambic - bambiti-bom, bambini-bom - "Moloch, whose eyes"  - bambiti-bom  or paeonic meters - de-dadda-da, de-dadda-da, or epitrite meters - da da da-da, da da da-da, da da da-da. Yeah, or dada-da da, dada-da da, dada-da-da - epitrite tertiary meters, eptrite quarters - da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da - or - da-da-da da, da-da-da da, da-da-da da (which would be ionic. So, anyway, there are all these things as rules. And also.. So what that is from an old Greek dictionary, a list of all the meters of two, three, and four syllables, and then a little series of about eight pages on different kinds of versification, giving me the common English meters, the common feet, and then the lengths of the line, like manometer, dimeter (two-foot lines), trimeter, tetrameter, and something about alexandrines (a French form and variations of it), and then followed by a tiny little single-page outline of free verse measures (possibilities of measurement for free verse)  that I grew up from teaching here [at Naropa] . So, Charlie (sic) will pass it out next time.

So, back to "The Douglas Tragedy", back, beyond "The Douglas Tragedy", to "The Two Sisters"..

continues tomorrow

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at the beginning of the tape and concluding at approximately ten minutes in]  

Monday, April 25, 2016

Shakespeare - 3 - Ginsberg on Shakespeare continues


                        [H.C. Selous - Illustration from The Plays of William Shakespeare (1886)]



Allen Ginsberg's analysis of William Shakespeare's play The Tempest continues

AG: Well, envy – the biggest envier in the whole play is Caliban. who’s always at the bottom, envying everybody, you know, wanting everybody’s power.

Student: There's that great line, "well, I taught you how to speak",  and he says, "yeah,  I know how to curse.."  [Prospero: "…I pitied thee/Took pains to make you speak, taught thee each hour/One thing or other. When thou didst not, savage/Know thine own meaning, but wouldst gabble like/A thing most brutish, I endowed thy purposes/With words that made them known…..Caliban: You taught me language, and my profit on't/Is I know how to curse. The red plague rid you/For learning me your language."]

AG: ….. (how to) curse you, yeah.   So the first…the first thing he does when he yells for Caliban. Caliban’s first line in the play is “There’s wood enough within”. You know, he did his work. What we were coming down to was that maybe the.. one of the keys of The Tempest is envy. Caliban was pure envy, the witch Sycorax with.. “who with age and envy was grown into a hoop” (so that the characteristic (place here) that’s being dealt with is envy (including Prospero’s envy for magical mystery tour, and envy for getting..  envy after spiritual materialist accomplishment when he was king and not paying attention to his kingdom, and so he was ashamed of that a little bit in his explanation to Miranda, because he'd envied spiritual accomplishment, or (envied, in the sense of wanted or grabbed for), and neglected his worldly business. So perhaps some of the theme of the magic, the theme of the magic renounced, is envy renounced, in the long run, or the complications of having had envy and then having had to use the imagination to get out of that, and having finally to clean up envy is the ultimate..  the sin in the play that's being dealt with. Has anybody commented on that before do you know?  Philip (sic)?

Philip Whalen [sitting in]:  I don’t know, I haven’t read any of the commentaries for many years now

AG: Well, neither have I, but I kept seeing that coming on. We just got to Caliban now, (and) Caliban is always envying, in the sense of always wanting to take Prospero’s power and wanting to populate the island with a race of Calibans. When he first made a move, when he first tried to violate Miranda’s honor, Miranda says (or Prospero mentions) that, Caliban tried to violate her honor. What he wanted was an isle full of Calibans instead of an isle full of humans. However, then we got to this point where Prospero is saying, "We cannot miss him, he does make our fire,/Fetch in our wood and serves in offices/That profit us./ What, ho!  slave! Caliban!/ Thou earth, thou! speak“ - Caliban - "There's wood enough within” - (He says: ”I’ve done it”)  

And then, the envy of possessiveness is announced specifically by Caliban, Act I, Scene 1, 
line 430 or so – Caliban –" I must eat my dinner/This island's mine by Scycorax my mother/Which thou takest from me” - So Prospero stole the island  (so that would make us wonderwhat is the island, again. Is it a symbolic thing? Is it you know, like that Prospero stole the island that actually belonged to the.. or was forced to steal  (like the Jews in Jerusalem! that was “forced to steal”! ) – (the island that belonged to “the darkies”  or something..)
I must eat my dinner/This island's mine by Scycorax my mother/Which thou takest from me"



Now, then there follows that speech about ..Prospero says, “Thou most lying slave,/Whom stripes may move, not kindness! I have used thee,/ Filth as thou art, with human care and lodged thee/In mine own cell, till thou didst seek to violate/The honour of my child",  and then Caliban says, "O  ho, O ho!  would't  had been done!/Thou didst prevent me; I had peopled else/This isle with Calibans" -  (he knew what he wanted! yeah) -  then the line that you (sic) like – "You taught me language, and my profit on't/Is I know how to curse"
But, then, we get further on. See, it actually gets interesting, who is Scycorax? and who is Caliban? and who does Shakespeare think they are? and what’s he setting up as the sort of, like, the brutality or the earth that Caliban’s sooner or later got to acknowledge and got to take care of - Caliban (aside) "I must obey, His art is of such power/It would control my dam's god Setebos,/ and make a vasal of him" (and I don’t see any footnotes on Setebos, does anybody have anything on that? – Who would be? his mother? his mother's god, Setebos?  Does anybody  have any idea what that is?  from any other…? [to Student] -They didn’t teach you that in Warwick (University) who Setebos was?

Student: (We didn't have that explained, no)

AG: No, it seems to be crucial but nobody..there’s not even a footnote

Student: (I guess it's in) (Robert) Browning's poem on Caliban on Setebos, I don't know..

AG: Uh-huh. That’s right. It’s called "Caliban upon Setebos". I guess this point must have attracted Browning then to decipher Shakespeare’s conception of foolishness, through this phrase?, through this name, Setebos – I haven’t… I don’t remember..I don’t remember the Browning and I’ve never seen.. there’s no footnote in any book that I’ve got around. Does anybody have a footnote on Setebos in any of their books? [to Student]  Could you look at it? – I don’t think there’s one in yours.. you’ve got the ..

Student: (I can see here. I haven’t got the line tho'…)

AG: Oh I’m sorry, it’s  Act 1, Scene 2, line 373 – Yes –His art is of such power/It would control my dam's god Setebos,/ and make a vasal of him". In any case, Prospero’s art is sufficiently strong to control the god of Sycorax and make a slave of the god of Sycorax too. (So he's mad)  And Prospero does seem a little bit irritable with Caliban, constantly insulting him and calling him slave and insulting him with words. There is something.. I don’t know whether (or) how it looks on the stage but it does look intemperate.

Student: Wystan Auden had some naughty story about how Caliban was actually the son to (him)
AG: Yeah, that was what I was talking about just before you came in that, when Prospero.. That’s where I got it – That was Auden"s idea? 
Student: It's in The Sea and The Mirror..
AG: Right, Because there’s a great commentary on this by Auden called The Sea and The Mirror, in which Auden does have that proposition that Caliban arrives on the island so horny that he was fucking Sycorax, and that’s…
Student: Prospero was..
AG: That Prospero was screwing Scycorax,  and that's how Caliban got born
Student: He already had his three-year-old daughter with him
AG: Yeah. Actually, I mentioned that idea before but I didn’t remember where I heard it ever.

Now, let’s see what we’ve got here.
Then we have a pretty little song coming – “Come Unto These Yellow Sands”  )"Come unto these yellow sands,/And then take hands;/Courtsied when you have and kiss'd/The wild waves whist..” – "The wild waves whist"? – does anybody know what that means? There’s a little footnote, but I never.. yeah?.. so that the way that would sound is that, while you are kissing me…while the waves have hushed, or in-between the waves, or in-between the noise of the waves. So there’s a kind of silence invoked – that's Act 1, Scene 2, line 378 – "the wild waves whist” – I had never figured that out before I read it this time around.




Then we have Ferdinand’s speech, which is quoted by (T.S.) Eliot, you know, “Sitting on a bank, weeping again the king my father's wreck,/This music crept by me upon the waters"  (Ariel’s music) - Everybody read The Waste Land?
Well, back in the (19)40’s when everybody read "The Waste Land"  this weeping.. the king my father's wreck"… (and the king, his father before him, I think, Eliot adds)  and, "This music crept by me upon the.waters" - that was, sort of, very magical phrasing, quoted from Shakespeare by Eliot , sounding very mysterious in the Eliot context in turning on all the Eliot, modern Eliot, students to go back and read The Tempest actually (that’s why I read The Tempest, because I saw those phrases quoted from Shakespeare, and since Eliot's "Waste Land" was taught the first.. when you got to Shakespeare, actually, well, The Tempest anyway, the Eliot quote lead to reading this) 

Then the great song of transformation and mutability, Ariel’s Song  - “Full fathom five thy father lies/Of his bones are coral made;/ Those were pearls that were his eyes;/Nothing of him that doth fade/But doth suffer a sea-change/Into something rich and strange/Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell (Ding-dong).." - I hear them now -  or "Hark, now I hear them" – That"s… the "Burthen" is chorus taken by  others on the stage, or outside the stage, dispersively, but "Hark.. I hear them", "Hark, now I hear them",  is Ariel again. So that actually would be very pretty if it were sung by Ariel, so that, all of a sudden, there’d be a ringing knell and there’d be all these “ding dongs” from outside, and then “Hark, I hear them now" - and more ding-dong bell – Does everybody understand that song? (Is) that song baffling to (anyone)? You’ve read it before? "Full Fathom Five"? You know what it means? What? [to one Student] explain it? You’re the youngest, explain it?

Student: It just means, maybe, the change or transformation..
AG: But what does "Full Fathom Five" mean?
Student: Five thousand fathoms?
AG: Right. Five full fathoms down?
Student:  Fathoms deep..
AG: What?
Student: Fathoms deep, that sounds very beautiful (something like thirty) feet underwater?
AG: Yes. it’s sort of a nice translucent space,. You can probably... It's about the sea..
Student (2) : Can you find anything by Gregory Corso as good as that..?
Student (3): That's an unfair..
AG: Almost. Actually I was comparing Gregory’s.. for those who came in late, I read (earlier) Gregory Corso’s poem., “Clown”  for its Shakesperean language, (and) comparing the condensation and swiftness of Gregory’s line to Shakespeare. Nothing as melodious.
Student: That's what it is. It's so melodious.
AG: It's very melodious, yes.   Well, of course, this is also considered by some to be the great mysterious beautiful magical most exquisite lines of Shakespeare, the most philosophic lines but at the same time the most poetical. And when I was a kid this was the ideal.. the ideal Shakespeare was “Full Fathom Five”, this little song, those..what?, seven lines? –  were the most valued and treasured and magical in all of Shakespeare, and you’d find it framed on walls, and, like knitted.. and you’d hear it on the radio with great baritone basso-voiced radio-announcers, a guy named Steven…

Student: (On the coast?)

AG: No, New Jersey, New York, on WNYC there was a guy from the Poetry Society of America named… Steven Ross?.. some guy, a friend of Harold Vinal, who had a very deep radio-announcer’s throat voice and he"d go “Full Fathom Five”. That, and “And the night shall be filled  with music,/ And the cares, that infest the day,/Shall fold their ents like the Arabs,/ And as silently steal away.” – [Editorial note - Allen quotes Henry Wadsworth Longfellow here] - But there was something very strange about this, like it belonged, in my youth, it belonged with Theda Bara (sic), and The Arabian Nights , and all sorts of magical mystery tours. (It got) the full imagination, because you know it actually did invoke, for a kid, a sudden.. for a child, you know, at the age of eight or nine, hearing this. invokes the.. a comprehension of the whole universe of change, you know, an inkling of it in the most mysterious nursery-rhyme-ish form. that.. I mean the most mysterious, you know, chiming little melodious rhymed form.

Student: And it opened up the whole world of poetry too, for a child...

AG: Yeah. “Those were pearls that were his eyes”- That’s.. I guess that’s the most meaning of the lines there -“Those were pearls that were his eyes”-  



                                                              ["Full Fathom Five" - Jackson Pollock]

Student: Eliot took that didn't he? - Those were pearls that were his eyes”?

AG: Yeah, yeah…What we’re doing is.. I’m going over little hot-spots, little delicacies of the language. I’m not reviewing the philosophy of the play so much, but just.. Actually, it’s time, so.. Well, the last one was Prospero looking at Ferdinand, the beautiful unstained spotless youth, Ferdinand, and Shakespeare, looking through Prospero’s eyes, has a very sweet notion – “..he’s something stain'd/With grief that's beauty's canker; thou mightst call him a goodly person.."– he’s admiring the beauty, Shakespeare’s admiring the beauty of this, Prospero’s admiring the beauty of Ferdinand, noticing that it is stained with "beauty’s canker", which is grief – it's just a very sweet notion. 

Okay, so we’ll continue from here but go more swiftly., moving now through.. less through little delicacies of phrasing, but the big speeches and philosophy...

to be continued

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately thirty-three-and-a-half minutes in, and concluding at the end of the tape]