Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday's Weekly Round-Up 43



We've been serializing Allen's NAROPA lectures of late (more, much more, to come) so the presence of this "practicum" is (as it always was) really useful. Daniel Nester on We Who Are About To Die.com has a version ("June 3 1992, revised March 29 1995") posted here .
[2013 update - this link has, unfortunately, been taken down ( presumably for copyright reasons). We do hope to have a version of the practicum available on-line (again) sometime in the future

And still on the topic of essential teaching tools - the Poetry Foundation recently spotlighted Steve Silberman's "Celestial Homework" - "Specialized Reading List For "Literary History of the Beat Generation", a course taught by Allen Ginsberg at Naropa Institute during the summer of 1977"

Armed with these two, you should be ready for more "A History of Poetry" coming next week.

"In 1988..I happened to run into Allen Ginsberg in St Marks Bookshop in New York" (this is Philip Glass talking), "and (I) asked him if he would perform with me. We were in the poetry section, and he grabbed a book from the shelf and pointed out Wichita Vortex Sutra.."

That the St Marks is threatened and its fate currently hanging in the air was recently reported on here in the New York Times and here in Business News (sic). For more on this contact Joyce Ravitz of the Cooper Square Committee - "Save The Saint Mark's Bookshop"

Speaking of bookstores, here's an Israeli perspective on City Lights - Doron Rosenblum in/on "Mr. Ferlinghetti's Bookstore"

& Donnie Mather's Kaddish continues its New York performances (oh yes, we told you about that)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

W.H.Auden (1907-1973)



[W.H.Auden (1907-1973) photo c. David Kirby]


W.H. Auden died on this day.

MA: What about Ginsberg's parody (of you)? I only mention it because you wrote that to parody successfully you have to like the style you are parodying.
WA: I didn't know he had written one. Where is it?
MA: In (his) Indian Journals
WA: Oh you should have brought it. I would have liked to see it.
MA: Have you met Ginsberg?
WA: Yes, I like him. I don't care for his poetry.

Allen - from the essay, "Remembering Auden" (first published in The Drummer, 1974):
"We met first at Earl Hall, Columbia University, 1945, when he read to students. I accompanied him on the subway to Sheridan Square, wondering if he'd invite me to his Cornelia Street apartment and seduce me. He didn't. Years later in Ischia, at a garden table, 1957 I said I thought that there was a social revolution at hand, he poo-pooed it, and I drunkenly yelled at him indignant, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself discouraging young hope and energy!". I was outraged, intemperate, tipsy and self-righteous. Oddly, years later, he apologized to me for having been too off-handed with me. Actually, I'd made pilgrimage to Ischia to him and I'd intruded at his restaurant wine leisure dusk.
Auden was very funny, sort of generous but fussy. In the 'sixties, I used to go visit him every year or two, have tea. Soon after I came back from India, I went to see him with a harmonium and started singing Hare Krishna and various mantras and he sat and listened, but he was uncomfortable, like pinned wriggling to the wall, and having to be polite and really mind-wandering and not really interested in my great display of knowledge, because I was laying this trip on him.
The next time I went to see him I brought my harmonium wanting to sing some Blake songs. He said "Oh no no no no, I just can't stand people singing to me like that,makes me terribly embarrassed. I can't sit here and have people singing. I'm quiet and prefer to listen to them in a concert hall, or on a record. Don't sing, have some tea, have some tea, please, you'll embarrass me".
I think he got a little bit silly. When he was last in New York he was doing some work with a cartoonist making some funny little poems. So instead of my singing to him, he wanted me to look at those. I was full of big serious mantras and Blake and spiritual trippiness and he wanted me to look at all those little household domestic verses about how silly and comfy the Victorians were. Summer 1973 in London, we all read together - Basil Bunting and Auden and myself and (Hugh) MacDiarmid at Queen Elizabeth Hall and he read some really great poems saying farewell to his body, farewell to his eyes, to his senses one by one, evaluating them and putting them in place, dissociating himself from permanent identification with his senses, and preparing his soul to meet his ultimate empty nature God. So there was an individualistic, solitary complete objectivity that he arrived at.
Apparently, he was very domestic but his apartment was a complete mess, there were papers all over, books piled up on end tables and shelves, just like a real artist's.
I had a couple of funny run-ins with him different times, and always had a very uneasy time with him. I always felt like a fool, trying to lay a trip on him culture-political or otherwise. Once we had a big happy agreement about marijuana should be legalized. He said, "Liquor is much worse, quite right, quite right. I do think...end all this fuss".
He must have been lonely because he said he was afraid he'd drop dead in his apartment and have a heart-attack and nobody would find him. Quite true because he did have a final heart attack a year later. I don't know if he encouraged local friendliness or not, but every time I called him up, he'd make a date for about a week later, and he'd be there and be expecting me and have tea ready."
(This essay appears also in the invaluable Deliberate Prose: Selected Essays 1952-1995)
Auden's 1972 New York 92nd Street Y reading may be heard in its entirety here. His Paris Review interview (from that same year) is here
Various other poems are available here (via the Academy of American poets site) and here and here (via the BBC)
For a full and informative documentary (made posthumously in 2007), "combining telling events in the life of W.H.Auden with (invaluable) interviews from the tv and radio archives and extracts from (his) poetry, notebooks, letters and journals", we'd recommend "The Addictions of Sin: W.H.Auden In His Own Words" (in six parts, the first part's here).
In keeping with our spirit of irreverence, here's the famous "Platonic Blow" - and here's Rosie Schaap's crucial research "In Search of the Auden Martini".

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Adaptations Project Production of Kaddish opens this week in New York

September 29-October 9






Produced by The Adaptations Project on Sept 29 - Oct 9, 2011 at New York's 4th Street Theatre.
Directed by Kim Weild and Performed by Donnie Mather. This multimedia memory play is a collision of Poetry, Video, Music, & Theatre. The production marks the 50th Anniversary of the poem's publication.

Tickets at BrownPaperTickets.com or 1-800-838-3006.
General Admission $18

Artists Talkbacks:

Following select performances, stay for an intimate post-show discussion on Kaddish, Ginsberg, and The Adaptations Project along with several special guests.

Oct 1 Saturday following the 3pm matinee
Oct 4 Tuesday with John Tytell (Professor and author of Naked Angels)
Oct 5 Wednesday with Bob Rosenthal (The Ginsberg Estate)
Oct 7 Friday evening

For more information, visit www.AdaptationsProject.org or AdaptProject on Twitter

Andre Breton ( 1896-1966)


[Andre Breton (1896-1966) by MELMOTH]

Andre Breton “the Pope of Surrealism” died 45 years ago today

A nine-part interview (Entretien) with him (by Andre Parinaud) from 1950 may be listened to (en francais) here

Illuminating footage of Breton and others can be seen in the documentary, Passage Breton by Michel Polac and Robert Benayoun, made in 1970, four years after his death. and featuring interviews with some notable Surrealist contemporaries – Salvador Dali, Matta, Jacques Baron, Joyce Mansour, Andre Pieyre de Mandiargues, Man Ray.

Peruse once again (if you dare) the Surrealist manifesto

Swoon once again over Nadja

Ponder the adjective - "surreal"

Monday, September 26, 2011

T.S.Eliot (1888-1965)




















[Portrait of T.S. Eliot by Wyndham Lewis, 1938, oil on canvas, 133.3 x 85.1 cm - Durban Art Gallery, South Africa]

501 - today is T.S. Eliot’s birthday – In ’58 Allen made him an honorary “Ignu” (“Eliot probably an ignu one of the few who’s funny when he eats”) – and three years later, in “Journal Night Thoughts” - “Eliot’s voice clanging over the sky/ on upper Broadway, “Only thru Time is Time conquered”
– 27 years later, this, from a letter to Lucien Carr:
“Read biography of T.S.Eliot this week – he had same case (‘karma trap”), plus mad wife who rubbed both with ether, took morphine for nervous headaches and continually bled “purulent discharges from her yoni" – wound up in madhouse after 18 years of mutual torture – he himself wrote wild filthy epic of King Bolo (nobody’s seen in public yet) [no longer true - editor's note] full of assholes and Jewboys and cunts and pricks, and “was addicted to Nembutals” (goofballs) aetat. 60. Happy ending, however, the last 8 years of his life married his secretary who said the “little boy” finally came out in him, and he lived smiling ever after, said “Hurrah Hurrah!” carried back home through his portal from the hospital room the last time, and died calling his new wife’s name. And he smoked Galouise almost to the end with heavy emphysema!”
In 1968, in an interview with Fernanda Pivano: "But Eliot never solved the verse problem for us, because he went to England and wrote ultimately in the last plays in basically an old style of Shakespearean blank verse, written slightly adapted to (intelligent) modern speech. But he never solved the problem of how do you register American speech?" That would be left to Williams.
Eliot's star considerably less bright than in days of yore. Here's one of several reviews of the recently-published (and much belated) second volume of his Collected Letters (and here's another (from the London Review of Books)
Here's his interview (from 1959) with Donald Hall for The Paris Review.
And, lest we forget, the poetry - Four Quartets, Prufrock, The Waste Land..

Allen Ginsberg - 500th Posting




















[*Ginsberg en la piel..." (Ginsberg tattoo), 2011 - photo by Erix Pearl via Flickr]

"The weight of the world/ is love/ Under the burden/ of solitude,/ under the burden of dissatisfaction/ the weight,/ the weight we carry/ is love".

Since Ginsberg-tattoo postings seem (curiously?) among our most popular postings, what better way to celebrate the 500th posting here on The Allen Ginsberg Project than this - another posting of a picture of a "tat".

Another "tat", coming off of that same poem, may be viewed here.

Not to forget the "queer shoulder" (don't miss "Jon''s follow-up comment too!)

And "cosmicbrownie" recently had the Harry Smith Buddha's Footprint logo inked.

Let us know if you know of any more.

[2012 update - we've done a little cleaning-up, deleting a few redundant back posts, so this may not now be strictly post number 500 (as if such enumeration mattered!), anyway, rest assured in the knowledge that it once was!)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Allen Reads William Carlos Williams (ASV #17)


Voices and Visions was a 13-part educational t.v. series (13 t.v. programs), produced in 1988 by the New York Center For Visual History and airing that year on public television. The programs attempted to explore, as they put it, "through interviews, archival footage, and readings, the life and works of some of America's greatest poets"..."Each of the thirteen 60-minute documentaries focuses on a different American poet and attempts to present a biographical picture of the poets' life and insight into the poetry they created".
The poets who were spotlighted included Walt Whitman (Allen appears in that one too), Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Wallace Stevens, T.S.Eliot, Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore - and, most interesting for Allen, Hart Crane, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams.

The episode on Williams (from which the brief clip above is excerpted), alongside all the other episodes, may be viewed in their entirety here on The Annenberg Learner Center website.

The clip begins with James Laughlin of New Directions,Williams’ friend and publisher, recalling Williams. This is followed by (audio only) Allen, sensitively reading from Williams' classic 1923 volume Spring and All (recently re-published, by New Directions, in an elegant facsimile edition).

For more of Allen on Williams, see, for example here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday's Weekly Round-Up 42


A short clip from an "historical interview" (with Barry Silesky), originally recorded in 1988 and re-edited in 2004, posted on the site of the Video Data Bank

"In 1968 52 percent of the American people had thought (that) the (Vietnam) war was always a mistake, according to Gallup. By 1968, the Left, with a majority behind it, was still saying kill the middle class, bring the war home, carry the Vietcong flag, and so offended the middle class they couldn't lead the middle class out of the war the middle class were in favor of getting out, particularly, a couple of million people on the Left refused to vote, and the Left still hasn't acknowledged its own culpability in that, still wants to be right."

We wish they'd post the rest of it.

And while we're at it, what about this little vintage clip of '60's Allen chanting in London in 1967 and a hippy couple's pro-pot sentiments (courtesy of Getty images)


Not strictly Ginsberg-centric, in fact not really about Allen at all, we nonetheless thought we'd draw your attention to this documentary (from Australian radio) on "America's Beat Writers in Mexico". Jorge Garcia Robles, author of Burroughs y Kerouac: dos forasteros perdidos in Mexico, "knew both men and talks about their time in Mexico".

Another great intime of the Beats was much-missed Fernanda Pivano. We earlier profiled her, here, and here. Teresa Marchesi's 'Nanda Pivano movie (Pivano Blues - On Nanda's Road) recently debuted at the Venice Film Festival. Early reviews are great. Here's one from The Hollywood Reporter

Oops! missed William Carlos Williams (128th) birthday last Saturday!
We'll make it up to you with a Williams posting tomorrow, Bill!

Today's birthday is none other than Ray Charles


Tomorrow, Saturday September 24 - 100 Thousand Poets For Change

Thursday, September 22, 2011

History of Poetry 7 (William Shakespeare 2)

["Memento mori" image courtesy the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC]

"In a few minutes... lets, see, when does this class end?...7.40?..we have one minute. I wanted to get back to one little Shakespeare to end. And it's funny little sounds in a song from "A Winter's Tale" that's not too well-known. So I won't try to explain what the reference in the play to the poem is. There's a certain kind of funny lyric jumpiness, syncopation, in this:
"When daffodills begin to peer,/ With heigh! the doxy over the dale,/ Why, then comes in the sweet o' the year;/ For the red blood reigns in the winter's pale,/ The white sheet bleaching on the hedge,/ With heigh! the sweet birds, Oh how they sing!/ Doth set my pugging tooth on edge;/ For a quart of ale is a dish for a king./ The lark that tirra-lirra chants,/ With heigh! with heigh! the thrush and the jay,/Are summer songs for me and my aunts,/ While we lie tumbling in the hay".
I've always liked that - "With heigh! with heigh! the thrush and the jay", "The lark that tirra-lirra chants,/ With heigh! with heigh! the thrush and the jay". It's funny. He's got that with "The white sheet bleaching on the hedge,/ With heigh! the sweet birds, Oh how they sing!" -So that's a song for singing

- and (then) the great "Cymbeline", Buddhist statement:
"Fear no more the heat o' the sun, / Nor the furious winter's rages;/ Thou thy worldly task has done,/ Home art gone and ta'en thy wages;/ Golden lads and girls all must,/ As chimney-sweepers, come to dust./ Fear no more the frown of the great;/ Thou art past the tyrant's stroke;/ Care no more to clothe and eat/ To thee the reed is as the oak;/ The scepter, learning, physic, must/ All follow this and come to dust./ Fear no more the lightening flash,/ Nor the all-dreaded thunder stone; Fear not slander, censure rash;/ Thou hasn't finished joy and moan:/ All lovers young, all lovers must/ Consign to thee, and come to dust."/ No exorciser harm thee! Nor no witchcraft charm thee!/ Ghost unlaid forbear thee!/ Nothing ill come near thee!/ Quiet consummation have;/ And renowned be the grave!"

Okay. Continued next week (tape and class concludes here)

Audio (of "The History of Poetry" 1-7) can be heard at http://www.archive.org/details/Allen_Ginsberg_class_The_history_of_poetry_June_1975_75P007
(Allen can be heard giving full-length readings of Pound's "The Seafarer" and Shakespeare's "Sonnet 97" and the Anonymous "Tom o' Bedlam's Song", as well as singing, with harmonium accompaniment, Thomas Nashe's "Song (In time of pestilence)", as well as reciting selections from several other poems)
- and http://www.archive.org/details/Allen_Ginsberg_class_The_history_of_poetry_part_8_June_1975_75P008A
(the lecture continues - Allen reads Campion's "Rose-cheek't Laura come" and Shakespeare's "Song ("When daffodils..), and, from "Cymbeline"
- W.S.Merwin reads Campion's "Followe thy faire sunne, unhappie shadow" )
Thanks for initial transcription labors and attention to "minute particulars" (as ever) to Randy Roark

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

History of Poetry 6 (Thomas Campion)



[Anonymous - Portrait of A Lutenist, oil on canvas, French, c. late 17th century]

Campion 1567-1620. (Thomas) Campion, also, at this point, writing music, got interested in quantitative verse - vowel-length verse - as the measure for his poetry, and he is one of the great ears in English poetry. Most of these, or some of these, are songs. I'll read the famous one(s) that you know mostly - "Rose-cheekt Laura, come/ Sing thou smoothly with thy beaweies/ Silent musick, either other/ Sweetely gracing/ Lovely formes do flowe/ From concent devinely framed;/ Heaven is musick, and thy beawties/ Birth is heavenly. These dull notes we sing/ Discords neede for helps to grace them;/ Only beawty purely loving/ Knowes no discord. / But still mooves delight,/ Like clear springs renu'd by flowing,/ Ever perfect, ever in them-/ selves eternal."
Now the first line is "Rose-cheekt Laura (comma) come". Now if he were trying to measure that by accent you'd say something like "ROSE-cheekt LAUra COME". And there would be a tendency, mechanically, in fact, there is a tendency when this poem is taught in high-school for the teacher to say "Rose-cheekt LAUra COME" (instead of "Rose-cheek't Lau-uh...come.". And only a musician would know that. It's obviously the first line of something like..[Allen starts singing with harmonium] "Rose-cheekt Laura (breath) come", and the music would move to another chord or another note. So, "Rose-cheekt Laura... come'. It has such a nice sound. Such a pretty timing. So that timing coming from Campion, his very perfect musician's ear is why (W.S) Merwin exclaimed in delight when Campion's name was mentioned..I guess [turning to Merwin] is that part of your interest in Campion?

W.S.Merwin (sitting in on the class): I just love Campion. Do you know that shadow poem? It's the one of your Buddha

AG: Why don't you read that

W.S.M: Well, the title is the first line. "Followe thy faire sunne, unhappie shadowe" - . "Followe thy faire sunne, unhappy shadowe,/ Though thou be blacke as night,/ And she made all of light,/ Yet follow thy faire sunne, unhappie shadowe. Follow her whose light thy light depriveth/ Though here thou liv'st disgrac't,/ And she in heaven is plac't,/ Yet follow her whose light the world reviveth. Follow those pure beames whose beautie burneth/ That so have scorched thee,/ As thou still black must bee/ Til her kind beanes thy black to brightnes turneth/ Follow her while yet her glorie shineth;/ There comes a luckles night,/ That will dim all her light;/ And this the black unhappie shade divineth/ Follow still since so thy fates ordained;/ The Sunne must have his shade,/ Till both at once doe fade,/ The Sun still proud, the shadow still disdained."

AG: You know, I've never understood that poem. Can you explain it to me?

WSM: I don't understand it

AG: I love it. It's really beautiful

WSM: I don't know who he's talking about, if that's what you mean

AG: Yeah, I tried to figure it out

Student: Isn't he talking about the sun? Isn't he talking about earth following the sun?

WSM: Well you get that part of it clear enough. He's talking about the sun and the shadow and that the..

AG: And lovers too, right? I always thought it was some masochistic love relationship.

WSM: I've never figured out the sex requirements.

AG: Its probably a faggot masochism.

WSM: One of the things that I know about it is the thing you're talking about, is this thing - You can't go through that poem fast, You can't read it any faster than he wants you to.

AG: Yeah,, that is a very conscious vowel-length adjustment there. I guess the lines are made equivalent to each other by the count of the vowel-length. I've never analyzed that out. Have you? Somebody must have

Lewis MacAdams (also in attendance): That may be one of the ones he analyzed himself in that essay about the Art of English Poesie

WSM: ..In which he said that no poem that cannot be sung is a real poem.

AG: So Pound loved Campion for that statement. Maybe Pound even got that idea from Campion. So you can see what a degeneration we had with poetry in America when you had these poems which were written to be declaimed at high-school graduationsb or even read. Let's try that. It would be interesting to figure out what that poem's about.

WSM: It's a poem about illusion too.

AG: "Followe thy faire sunne, unhappie shadow' - so that could either be Earth, as you say, or (a) lover, or just a shadow, an actual shadow, but then he's got it unhappy - "Though thou be blacke as night,/ And she made all of light/Yet fllow thy faire sun, unhappie shadow". So we still haven't figured out who that combination would be

WSM: No, but the funny thing is the sun becomes female.

AG: "she" - that's right. "And she made all of light" - so it's a lover, sort of, we could assume - "Follow her whose light thy depriveth" - meaning the girl, or sun, is so bright, and so pretty, and so knocked-out, that the one who's following around is completely put in the shade and can't talk, hardly. "Though here thou liv'st disgrac't," - "liv'st disgrac't" - L-I-V-S-T - he wanted that, get that?, "liv'st" instead of "livest disgrac't", because he was counting those lengths - D-I-S-G-R-A-C-apostrophe-T, to get it a little faster. But her "thou livs't didgrac'd/ And she in heaven is plac't/Yet follow her whose light the world reviveth" - So that could be Beatrice at this point, Beatrice, some heavenly vision.

WSM: He's counting the vowels. He makes the consonants completely unimportant

AG: "Follow those pure beames whose beautie burneth/ That so have scorched thee,/ As thou still black must bee/ Til her kind beanes thy black to brightnes turneth" - so she's going to make it, or smile. or look with favor, she's going to make it with the masochistic lover who can't talk and who's light is dimmed by her sparkling babble. "Follow her..." Unless this is a big mystical poem about Mary or Beatrice. "Follow her while yet her glorie shineth" - so it's not eternal, it must be human. "There comes a luckles night" - L-U-C-K-L-E-S, not "luckless", "luckles" - "there comes a luckles night"

Anne Waldman: Sounds like "lux" meaning light. Lightless

AG: Yeah, just the way they spelled it. They didn't have two "s"'s - "There comes a luckles night/ That will dim all her light/ And the black unhappie shade divineth' - Figures out, prophesies. So it must be human, I guess. If she is going into the luckles night"

WSM: (Indecipherable) works in all of them

AG: Well, with the divine, ""Follow her while yet her glorie shineth/ There comes a luckles night/ That will dim all her light. So that means that if she is divine, the divine will die

WSM: No, divine in the sense of guesses and figures out, and does, like a water-diviner, understands that this is what is going to happen.

AG: Oh yeah. "Follow still since so thy fates ordained;/ The Sunne must have his shade,/ Till both at once doe fade,/ The Sun still proud, the shadow still disdained."- Now he's got the thing turned around, the sexes turned around - The sun must have his shade

WSM: You could use that possessive of either sex, it doesn't matter

AG: Huh?

Student: Could it be life and death?

AG: Yeah. It could be anything, It's hard. But in a way it's so good because it's so vague. It could be yang/yin, could be life and death, could be the sun and the earth, it could be lovers. I always read it as mystical experience actually.

So you heard that really odd beautiful spacing, stately spacing of the vowels there, because, when you're singing, you'd be able to play with those vowels and elongate them [Allen starts singing] - "And this the black unhappie shade divine-eth". So he's hearing it for song, he's hearing it for melody, instead of " And THIS the BLACK unHAPpie SHADE diVINeth", or "And this THE black unHAPpie shade divineth" - it's a much more interesting way of hearing, or composing, if you're going to hear a scheme, if you 're going to hear a scheme in the verse at all, a regular repeated scheme, if you're going to build the stanzas around any kind of repeated, repeatable, paradigm or structure, measurement, the use of vowels and training your ear to hear vowels or maybe even just doing it with music, is a lot better than what I was trained to write with, which was just the accents, back in the '30s and '40s. I guess that's why I sort of rebelled so strongly because my father wrote in very fixed accents and that was what I was brought up with, and it was totally heavy automatonism, that led to that kind, where the actual meaning and pronunciation was regularized and standardized and homogenized to iambic pentameter or quatrain of iambs, so it didn't mean anything, finally. That's why I sort of went overboard into a kind of free verse that had no regulation except rhythms that I could hear, spoken rhythms that I could hear, or chanting rhythms that I could hear around me. Lately, I've been writing a lot of songs so that I find that I'm coming back to forms like these, or forms that are countable by accent or quality.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

History of Poetry 5 (Accentual and Quantitative Measure)



AG:Does anybody know the difference between accentual prosody and quantitative prosody? Is that something that ever came through? Does anybody know what quantitative prosody (is)? - as distinct from accentual? One, two, three (and some of the poets (here) maybe? [W.S.Merwin, Lewis MacAdams, Anne Waldman]). Could you [to student] explain it?, or, what's your version?

Student: Quantitative is the number of consonants and vowels, and accentual is the number of accents in a particular line.

AG [to second student]: And what was your understanding?

Student: (mumbles)

AG: Louder?

Student: I got the one out of Allen Verbatim

AG: I put together a book on spontaneous poetics (which I'll put in the library, on the reference shelf), of my own sort of general pastiche of ideas of about 1968. My understanding (mainly from (Ezra) Pound) is that, in Greek and Latin prosody, the measure of the line, involved a count of the length of the vowels. In Greek also, the pitch - high and low - and that there were fixed lengths for vowels, like "fixed lenngth" - well, the "fixed" is shorter than the "length" - the vowel "ih" is shorter than "eh", I think, to my ear, at the moment. "With love" - the "ih" is shorter than the "ov", so, if it were possible to measure them in English, the "with" would be a half-length and "love" would be a full-length vowel, and you could compose your lines of three full-length vowels (consisting of six half-length, or three full-length, or two half-length and two full-length vowels). In other words, you'd measure the line by the length of the vowel. You wouldn't be measuring it by the accent. You wouldn't try to measure the line by counting the accents neat.Do you understand the difference? Real simple in English - "THIS is the FORest primEVal the MURmuring PINES and the HEMlock" (that's the standard war-horse that's taught, or was taught, twenty, thirty years ago in high-schools). That's counting of an accent. Dah-duh-duh, dah-duh-duh.. The accent, meaning the emphasis on the syllable, how much emphasis you put on it, rather than the length of the syllable. So (Ezra) Pound, realizing that people were no longer singing, points out, first of all, that, when the English figured out their accentual measure of the line, they were trained in classical poetics, and so they took over the terminology of the Greek and Latin measures, and shifted it over, however, from length of vowel and pitch (that's the tone or the pitch), they took it over and just used the same nomenclature for accent. So in a Greek line, which would be in iambic..what? - duh-Dah (short-long), yeah, in a Greek line (which was called iambic - and the foot, the foot part of the line which was called iambic), it would have been a short and a long vowel. "I go...", say, for that sound. "I go" (short "I", longer "go"). The English counted the accent instead of the length of the vowel ("i GO"). So they're counting the accent. Using the divisions and measures of classical quantity. They made a kind of patchwork system. And it was alright, I guess, while they were still singing, because there were a lot of variation(s) because of the singing and the elasticity of the singing and the kind of body that it had and the variableness of the actual singing-the-thing-aloud. But then, Pound complains, as song was no longer practiced so much that it became a literary exercise for speaking the poetry, and it was no longer, later in the 19th Century and early 20th Century, no longer even for speaking aloud, but just to read on the page, the muscular-ness and the organic sense of these kind of measures were lost, and it became mechanical and repetitive and dulled down and even lost all meaning, was, in the famous line: "Thou too sail on, O ship of state" - "Thou TOO" (unaccented, accented), "sail ON" (unaccented , accented), "oh SHIP" (unaccented, accented), "of STATE" (unaccented, accented). Did you know that? Do you understand what I am saying? No? I'll write it out on the board. I just want to make this one point clear and then we get off it. This was one of the most famous lines in the English language at one time in the 20th Century. It's usually measured, in the books, in the prefaces to books of prosody written in the '20's, when, as Pound pointed out, our prosody was most degenerated, mechanical, hand-me-down, they were used to the short or light/heavy - "Thou TOO Sail ON o SHIP of STATE". Right. You did that in grammar school or high school. How many did not do that ever? How many never did that at all? And how many did that? So you know what I'm talking about there, right?

(tape ends and then continues) "...used to show what iambic is. But, if you notice, you have the word "O" over here. Now "O" is unaccented, but what is "O" except an exclamation? So how can an exclamation "O" be unaccented ? Something went wrong, because it got squeezed mechanically so that finally it's violating the very organic sounds of spoken English. If you were trying to squeeze an exclamation..

Student: Yeah, but if anybody read that, other than this as an example, you'd elongate the "too" and the "O".

AG: No, there used to be a "Thou TOO sail ON o SHIP of STATE.". Yeah. In high-school, that's the way they read it to me.

Student: "Thou TOO sail on O ship of STATE"

AG: Well, it should be, obviously, "THOU TOO...". So I would read it actually as "THOU TOO SAIL ON O SHIP of STATE". So, in other words, this is not an accurate way of measuring the actual accents of spoken verse any longer. It's gotten so scewed up that an exclamation is measured as a non-accented syllable. So, in a way, it's no longer a workable shot, no longer a workable measure, which is the problem that (Ezra) Pound had to face at the beginning of the century and solved in his own way. He thought, ultimately, that some new American prosody or some new measure of American verse would ultimately be an approximation of classical quantity, of Latin/Greek quantity, that people would have to start looking for vowels and measure by vowels and that was his practice basically. (And, later on in the term, I'll bring in some recordings of Pound voweling his own quantitative Cantos, so you hear how he does it and what his ear is like. William Carlos Williams said that Pound had a "mystical ear" - it was so accurate to the length of the vowel. Williams solved the problem a different way - just listening and hearing the organic sounds of the speech around him.