Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spontaneous Poetics - 68 (William Carlos Williams 12)


[William Carlos Williams  (1883-1963)]

[Allen Ginsberg on Spontaneous Poetics at Naropa Institute continues - from June 30 1976]


AG: [recalling the previous class] We had gone through syllables, accents, vowel-lengths, some breath-stop, units of phrasing. How much of that did we get?

Student: You gave some examples and out of Williams, you got so far as the details...

AG:  Okay. Units of phrasing, consisting in units of vocalized phrasing, Not mental phrasing, but vocalized phrasing, and so I'm making that distinction. The aesthetic would be - clinical study of spoken American-ese. And  a close attention to the details that I read - how phrases are pronounced, how people talk, where they breathe, where they break off, where they leave a sentence incomplete, where they go on like that and stop (as in the poem from The Desert Music which I don't think I read here , where he said, "but I am an old man, I have had enough" - Do you know that (one)? - "The moon which/ they have vulgarized recently/ is still/ your planet/ as it was Dian's before/ you. What/ do they think they will attain/ by their ships/ that death has not/ already given/ them? Their ships/ should be directed inward upon   But I/ am an old man, I/ have had enough"

Student: What poem is that?

AG: That's "For Eleanor and Bill Monahan", page 83 of Pictures From Brueghal. Williams had a very similar trip in a poem "The Clouds", which I.. don't know if I read that to you this time around, did I? - the one where "plunging on a moth, a pismire, a..."  (page) 124 in The Collected Later Poems - talking about the imagination being let loose with no fixed center - "he clouds remain/ - the disordered heavens, ragged, ripped by winds/ or dormant, a calligraphy of scaly dragons and bright moths,/ of straining thought, bulbous or smooth,/ ornate the flesh itself (in which/ the poet foretells his own death), convoluted, lunging upon/ a pismire, a conflagration, a . . . . . . ." - He breaks off the end of the poem there with seven dots. So he's reproducing the motion of his own speech - several times - and he very often indicates a dot, which is not a period, but a dot in the middle of the line, to indicate a sentence broken off because the thought is incomplete, or because he just quit, or because he had a stroke, or because his thought was so obvious that it didn't need to be completed for the rest of the sentence. "There are men/ who as they live/ fling caution to the/ wind and women praise them/ and love them for it./ Cruel as the claws of/ a cat"- and then there's two dots following that. He might have said more but he just wanted to chop off, or perhaps he wrote more but in the editing he chopped any further comment off. Just "cruel as the claws of a cat . . "... "and love them for it" - Period. 
"Cruel as the claws of a cat" - dot, space, dot, space. The dot is not a period because it's not a complete sentence - "Cruel as the claws of a cat" - it's just a comment, a half-sentence comment. He doesn't say, "they are as cruel as a cat". "Cruel as the claws of a cat, aren't they?", perhaps, is what the rest of it was -  "Cruel as the claws of a cat, wouldn't you agree?" -  "Cruel as the claws of a cat, that's what I  think, finally, watching (how) all of these romantic Jimmy Dean's messed up these women's minds.  "Cruel as the claws of a cat". Enough.
Alright, so, for various reasons, in imitating actual speech, there is a complete break. Exasperation, as in "The Clouds" - "plunging on a moth, a butterfly a pismire, a . . . . . . ." (sic), or coming to the limit of thought. Fatigue and, perhaps, exhaustion of idea -  "Their ships/ should be directed inward upon, but I/ am an old man, I/ have had enough".

So these were examples of units of phrasing, in extremis, that is, breaking off lines or dividing lines according to speech, even speech which is broken off within itself. So, in other words, to give you an idea, the obviousness of the idea, of measuring the spoken phrases on the white space of the page, measuring them out, laying them out in their proper turns, so that, when read by the eye, they come natural, when read by mouth, they suggest you breathe, or suggest where you take pauses. And that merges with another sense that relates to breath-stop, obviously, but beyond breath-stop it's an analysis of the parts of the speech, because you can have several units phrased within one breath. Very often ordinary speech is that. You might start, look around, particularize what you're going to say, finish. So you might want to break it up that way - beginning, middle, and end, of a thought. Sometimes thought is spoken that way, when people are speaking thinkfully (sic), thinking while they're talking, or, not sure what they're saying, or groping for words or groping for phrases. So that towards the end, he (they) tend to break up the units of phrasing into triadic divisions within a line.

How many have seen that in (Williams')  Pictures From Brueghel?. I don't know if you can see the page from here. How many have already looked at these poems?.. How many have not? - Okay, that's what Williams came to at the end of his life, so check out Pictures From Brueghel to see how he finally decided to arrange his page.

Now one reason he decided was that he was already somewhat stricken physically. He did most of his composition on a typewriter, and he had to find a way of reducing the amount of physical activity, finger-work, on the typewriter. It was just an adjustment to the fact that he was part(ly) paralyzed, so that it was difficult to pull the whole machine all the way back to the margin and write short-line poems.  Also, his thought, or speech, came stumblingly, perhaps. He had a little trouble articulating at first. But I think he took advantage of his physical debility (hand-on-typewriter) and his speech difficulty (impediment) and began to find it easier to start on the left-hand margin, type out painfully the first phrase - "her hair" - making mistakes on the typewriter, correcting it - one finger maybe, you know - with one hand. I saw manuscripts of his at that time, and I visited his writing study on the second-floor of his house, where he had a desk. He complained about the difficulty - that is,  it was extremely fatiguing to type. So he had to arrive at a form that would be easiest for him. And probably that physical simplification maybe simplified the mental process in his mind (simplified it, in the sense that it gave him a key to how to arrange, or how the mental process flowed naturally, and what would be the simplest way of notating it). It might have given him a key to notation of his thoughts as they came. So he typed out "her hair" - and then the easiest thing is, right after that, turn the roll of the typewriter one space and stay in the same place where you left off with "her hair" - "is confined by a snood" - so "confined by a snood" - he'd type it out, with a period. And roll the typewriter again, one line more, and maybe push it back a couple (because it was getting toward the margin and he wasn't sure how long his next piece of phrasing would be) - "beside her" - So it's a physical situation, I think, that dictated his arrival at that triadic form. He may have had some experiments before with it (but) I had the impression that it was a good deal dictated by just what he could do (which is not a bad idea! - If you just settle for what you can do, what was simplest for you to do, you'd arrive at something very solid, probably).

The other night I had another idea about the final triadic form that he arrived at, which he called his "variable American measure", or "variable American foot", or "American measure"...he was concerned with the notion of a "variable foot" (that's what he finally categorized his format, when he finally got it straightened out to one line with three parts, drop down one space each part - is that clear what  I mean? about "drop down one space each part"?). I think he had said - I think I mentioned - he said he thought American speech tended towards the... what was it? anapest? - duh-duh-dah - And if you think, and if you talk, maybe it is. If you're stammering, making it up, but goin' slow, and you're old and you can't do much more, it does fall, if you wait, in that form, for certain kinds of very direct speech (with variations). So you'll have a line like that  - "..Two fair-haired youths/ with alternate speech/ are contending/but her heart is/ untouched/ Now,/ she glances at one,/ smiling, and now, lightly/ she flings the other a thought,/ while their eyes,/ by reason of love's long vigils,/ are heavy but their labors/ all in vain./ In addition/ there is fashioned there/ an ancient fisherman/ and a rock,/ a rugged rock/ on which/ with might and main/ the old man poises a great net/ for the cast.." - Well, I read at random in the style that he might have read. It falls roughly into that pattern of short utterances tending somewhat toward anapestic, tending somewhat to be divided (at least as speech, as spoken speech) into three parts, accent, or weight, tending to fall on the last syllables, if not the last syllable of the three parts of the line. And then there's a counter-stress - "Gray-haired though he be" - the counter-stress of the spoken intonation, giving variability to that. It's not anapestic, really. Maybe (there's) the idea of anapest behind it, but there's an infinite amount of variation in where the weight would be and how he would attack each part of the triad. So it's just an attempt to make a rough line of division of his line of speech, as best he could type it, which is about the same as the best he could talk it in that condition of post-stroke stammering.

Student: Wasn't that only the last... that was in the (19)60's, wasn't it? 

AG: 'Fifties and 'Sixties

Student: He had a stroke that early?

AG: Journey to Love is 1955. His stroke was about (19)53 or (19)52 - he had several strokes, actually. And (he) was in complete despair, didn't think he could write at all physically, and, at a certain point, didn't think he had anything to write about, because he was preoccupied with the idea that he had cancer of the anus, and he asked me (rhetorically), "Who is interested in me writing poems about my ass?!" [sic] - "ass-hole" is what he said - "Who cares if I want to write poems about my asshole? - So I said, "All young America wants to hear about your asshole, Doc. Write on!" 

Student: How did he manage to turn out Paterson (given such disability)?

AG: Most of that was worked out before?

Student: Before (19)52?

AG: Most of that had been worked out. I think the earliest Paterson is the (19)40's - maybe some (19)30's even,

I've gotten a little mixed-up here between breath-stop... I think we've covered breath-stop as the actual breath, and then units of phrasing is different than breath-stop (you could say "units of phrasing within one breath") . And then you've got to figure that you (can) get a certain syncopation of counter-currents running against each other (just as you have the run-on line in normal iambic pentameter) - "A thing of beauty is a joy forever:/ Its loveliness increases, it will never/ pass into nothingness" - Keats - "A thing of beauty is a joy forever" - okay, one line - " it's loveliness increases, it will never - pass into nothingness" - that was (John) Keats. (Keats), I believe, introduced the run-on line like that. It was a prose line, running on, in rhymes, and there was a funny kind of syncopation set up there. "Run-on line" - do you know what I mean? - It's a continuous breath that runs from one line to the next, even though the rhymes interrupt, or the rhymes chime in, but the breath doesn't end with the rhyme, and the pronunciation doesn't end with the rhyme. The pronunciation continues on to the next line. So it sets up a kind of special extra rhythmic pulse  (like in a bongo orchestra! - drums playing different pulses at the same time but in unison they make a more interesting total rhythm). So here you have, in Keats, the rhyme giving one set of clauses, or one set of counts, and you have the stress giving another set of counts, and then you have the speech progression - streak of speech - giving a  completely other rhythmic pulsation that runs through the line into the next line. So here you might have some lines end with the breath-stop, to take a breath, and some lines running on - "The poem/ if it reflects the sea/ reflects only/ its dance/ upon that profound depth/ where/ it seems to triumph/. The bomb puts an end/ to all that" - Well, with "puts an end to all that", he's ended on a breath-stop. "(But) the bomb puts an end to that" - it's a run-on line - "I am reminded that the bomb also is a flower" - So he's got  "I am reminded that the bomb also is a flower", that is "is a flower" goes back to the left-hand margin. 

[to be continued]                           

Monday, April 29, 2013

Spontaneous Poetics - 67 (William Carlos Williams 11)



























[William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) - Photograph by Jonathan Williams - from "A Palpable Elysium: Portraits of Genius and Solitude

(Continuing with Allen Ginsberg's class on "Spontaneous Poetics" at Naropa Institute, from June 28 1976)

AG: Breath-stop is the next measuring concept. In (William Carlos) Williams case, and in Robert Creeley's case, and in my case, and in Charles Olson's case, and in the practice of many modern poets, one way they divide the line when they're doing free verse is.. (because these are all the elements, still, in open-form verse, (that) I'm talking about, saying there's a shadow of a syllable count, there's a shadow of accent, the shadow of vowel-awareness (and) there is a definite practice of breath-stop). That's always been part of poetry, particularly part of song. The other night  (several friends) were (over in my apartment) and (we were) sight-reading (Thomas) Campion songs from the original music (which  really got much (so) better than when we (first) started with Campion, (earlier in) the term). We had a whole musical group, with flute, that can do it now, some Campion (If anybody's interested, it might be good, some time or other (in these lectures), to get back to song, and have it (them) performed more accurately for the breath than the Campion songs that I was reading (more accurately than we started at the beginning). But I was noticing that, in song, they were discussing where do they take the breath? - breathing the old ancient music - there were technical discussions of where the breath was to be taken. And were there breath marks in those music sheets?

Student: (Well, not per se) that's usually something you determine either within yourself or with a teacher..

AG: Yeah 

Student: ... wherever it's convenient... (taking a breath at) the end of a phrase.. and..

AG:  That's part of the oral transmission...

 Student: Yeah

AG: ...rather than the written. Well, I think that there are some notes. There's no notation to show breath in traditional music of any kind that you know of? No mark or notation? 

Student: There is..there's a mark very similar to the "light" [accentual mark], except it's more like a hill than a valley..

AG: And (so) then, there is no definite notation that can be used..?

Student: No, I've never seen it in any printed music (manuscripts) 

AG: I've noticed that in the practice of trying to vocalize from the music sheets, a good deal of discussion was (about) where do you take your breath?

Student: (For flute)..they use a mark.. [Another Student - they do?] ...where you take a breath..

AG: Yeah, I imagine, in almost any wind instrument.

Now, the marks for where you take the breath in poetry have always been the comma, the period, and the line. I mean space - space-arrangement on the page - indicates the breathing. I think without the control of continuous comma punctuation and semi-colons, colons, with the advent of the dash as an all-purpose gap of mind or speech, in meditation as in action, there also is this newer preoccupation with the line-break as the spot where you take another breath, or you have a breath-stop and you don't need a comma. And Creeley's practice was, he would write little funny couplets like - "If  you were going to get a pet/ What kind of animal would you get?" - with a definite breath-stop in-between the two verses (lines) of the couplet. What he wanted was (for) the two verses of the couplet (to) be so far apart and so discrete and so independent of each other that you could pronounce one - "If you were going to get a pet" -  and then take a walk around the block and come back and say - "What kind of animal would you get". So his image of the breath-stop was you take a walk around the block and then you come back. A real definite stop-gap, for the mind, for the speech. That's his style, that's his own personal idiosyncratic speech. He, being Bostonian by nature, a stammerer of some sort, a stammerer and tipsy Catholic Irishman. That's the way you talk in Boston, some time - a little hesitancy, short lines, (with) space between - walk around the block before the next thought . So there's the breath-stop as a measure. Yes?

Student: Something strange..  I've noticed, in reading Creeley though, that his lines are so short it's almost like a hyperventilation..if you take a breath between each line.

AG: Well, I think sometimes that goes on in Creeley, And that's quite literal. You see, he has this idiosyncratic breathing, connected with the breath-stop, or certain words , but I think very often there is a real breath...

[tape ends, but picks up again on next side]

So the breath-stops are used different ways. You can have it for short, or you can have it for a different effect, the kind of effect that you get in Charles Olson very often, in which he's a very thoughtful man, full of intellect, and it takes a little time for the sentences to formulate themselves in his head. But when they do formulate themselves, they come out and they come out long, and they'll stretch from the margin from the left-hand-side of the page and go all the way over to the right-hand-side margin, and continue. But when they continue, there's a break, so that's another line, so "and continue" will balance that whole other streak of language I just emitted. So Olson's Maximus Poems, if you notice, are arranged on the page to fit long and short breaths, physiologically emitted by the poet, either in the scratch of a pen on paper, or whether he has to pick up the pen and then continue again with a short line, or how it might be spoken. As I was reading it the other day (those few Songs from The Maximus Poems), I don't know if you noticed, there was a great variability and nervousness, so to speak (not uneasiness-nervousness, but nervousness of riding along on pure impulse and a very sensitive projecting outwards and advancing into the thought (or into the air) with the words, and then stopping, and containing all the hesitancies of thinking on your feet or writing directly as the mind produces images, or as the mind moves (So "moves" there, would be one line - "as the mind/moves" - which is just like "you sing also you who also want. You have to look that up on the page in Don Allen's anthology). So for a sample of the breath-stop as a measure of variable line-lengths, or a regulation if not a measure, a regulation of the line on the page, according to the breath-stop in a most variable form.  Yes? 

Student: Allen, it seems that Robert Duncan seems to have refined this to a fine art.

AG: Yes?

Student: I remember (when I saw him read) the way he was sort of conducting himself 

AG: Yes, well there, he was (probably) cultivating other pulsations of waves of speech, or perhaps even, there to some extent, accents, or, I wonder...

Student: He said he was counting heartbeat

AG: Heartbeats, he's counting?

Student: So he says.

AG: Incredible. Incredible. So he's counting time by heartbeat. That's something I never thought of. That's really...  literally? .. Where did he say that?.. I forgot.. Did he say that in (an interview) or..?  I guess I just missed that. But that's great. That takes a good deal of diffusion of consciousness throughout the body and mind to be able to do that simultaneously. Maybe he just counts the heartbeats until he begins speaking?.. I see

Student: As the words are arranged on the page

AG: As the words are arranged on the page?

Student: How long a space he takes relates to the length between words on the page.

AG: And that relates to the number of heartbeats? - The space on the page relates to the length of time he takes to speak between the sentences, and that relates to a count of heartbeat often. Of course, in Olson the length of space on the page, the white space on the page, relates to the time it takes between one sentence or another, or one line and another.
In (Jack) Kerouac's Mexico City Blues, there's the same principle - large spaces indicating long pauses - spaces for breathing, spaces for the breath, spaces indicating "take a breath", mixed with commas, in Kerouac.

Another way of dividing the line on the page is dividing it by units of phrasing. Not so much the breath because several units can be in a breath. Perhaps even you could find three units in a breath. Perhaps if you listen to your speech, as you were talking aloud to a dearest friend, you'd come to find that, at certain heart-felt moments (mind dwelling in the heart, meaning heart-felt)  your exposition would exist in triads (as mine just was for about three lines) . That is, though there was one breath, there were perhaps three phrases within the breath, or two phrases within the breath, or one phrase and an isolate word. So there are the spoken phrasings, and one could study those by listening to people talk, or listening to yourself talk, and find little rhythmic units, little squiggly articulations of speech that, after a while, become familiar. Or patterns that you can model your own writing on, or simply take directly from the air and take them to the page, like magic - unique specimens of isolate rhythmic flex. So you can imitate the sound of words in the air, or you can imitate the sound of words in your mind, what is called the "subconscious gossip" often, in Buddhist meditation terms, the literal sound in your mind. As Kerouac says, "The sound of poetry is the sound you hear is the first sound that you would hear if you were standing at a cash register, if you were singing at a cash register with nothing on your mind". The sound in your ear is the first sound you would hear if you were singing at a cash register with nothing on your mind". So you could hear your own sound of your own talk, to yourself.

And they come in units of speech too - little rhythmic units. So you can divide the line by those rhythmic units and set it out on the page, scoring your own speech, or scoring other speech, or scoring common speech, but taking as a model all of the little idiosyncratic rhythms that don't belong in the schemes of light and heavy accent - iamb, trochee, anapest and dactyl - that don't belong divided into monometer, dimeter, trimeter, tetrameter, pentameter, etcetera. An example - when I visited Williams, he had written on a 1948 prescription pad, "I'll kick yuh eye"  (this is something I've said any number of times because it struck me, repeated any number off times) - "I'll kick yuh eye" -Y-U-H  E-Y-E", he;d written.He said, "How can you scan that in accentual meter?" - But he would appropriate that completely for his poetry.

There are a number of very short poems which are experiments in listening to little units of speech - "Details" he called them - "Her milk don't seem to../ She's always hungry but../ She seems to gain all right,/ I don't know." - Some mother talking to the pediatrician. -"Her milk don't seem to../ She's always hungry but../ She seems to gain all right,/ I don't know." - "Doc, I bin lookin; for you/ I owe you two bucks./  How you doin'?/  Fine. When I get it/ I'll bring it up to you" - Detail - "Hey!" - great, Hey! - "Hey/ Can I have some more/ milk?/ YEEEAAAASSSSSS!/ - always the gentle/ mother" - (and) - "I had a misfortune in September,/ just at the end of my vacation./  I been keepin' away from that for years./ Just an accident. No foundation/ None at all, no feeling. I'm too/old to have a child. Why, I'm fifty!" - Again, a little rhythmic lyric without the lyre, without guitar, so you couldn't call it lyric, it's not music in the sense of notes of music with it, but, substituting for the old lyric form - "I bought a new/bathing suit/  Just pants/and a brassiere -/  I haven't shown/it/  to my mother/ yet." - "At The Bar" - "Hi! Open up a dozen/ Wha'cha tryin' ta do/charge ya batteries?/  Make it two/ Easy girl!/You'll blow a fuse if/ ya keep that up" - So he was listening to what he heard around him and the specimens of rhythm that weren't in the books already - "To Greet A Letter-Carrier" - "Why'n't you bring me/ a good letter? One with/ lots of money in it./ I could make use of that/ Atta boy! Atta boy!" - I think.. isn't there a.. last year from this poem we evolved a magazine - "Atta boy!" - a  literary magazine
with student poetry - "Atta boy! Atta boy!"           
So I was just reading these to exemplify Williams'  study of the units of phrasing and will continue with this subject anon...

[Audio for the above class is available at http://archive.org/details/Allen_Ginsberg_class_on_William_Carlos_Williams_and_prosody_June_1976_76P051 - beginning at approximately twenty-four-and-a-quarter minutes in]

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Text and Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll




The recent publication of Simon Warner's quaintly-titled, monumental (500+ pages) tome, Text and Drugs and Rock 'N' Roll, had us thinking again about lineage and connections and those issues - "Was rock culture the natural heir to the activities of the Beats? Were the hippies the Beats of the 1960s? What attitude did the Beat writers have towards musical forms and particularly rock music? How did literary works shape the consciousness of leading rock music-makers and their followers? Why did Beat literature retain its cultural potency with later rock musicians who rejected hippie values? How did rock musicians use the material of Beat literature in their own work?" - Simon Warner, journalist, broadcaster, and lecturer in Popular Music Studies at the University of Leeds in England, was the editor of 2005's Howl For Now - A Celebration of Allen Ginsberg's Epic Protest Poem, and some of the material from that book re-appears in a different form here, as well some of that earlier gathering's illustrious contributers, notably David Meltzer (who wrote the forward to the Howl For Now book) and Steven Taylor (who wrote the introduction). 

Howl for Now

Meltzer (from the new book - the actual quote comes from a profile Warner made of him in 1998 for Beat Scene) - "I think I was the conduit for Ginsberg and (Michael) McClure to get in touch with (Bob) Dylan. I suppose at that point [circa 1964] I was the instrument. (Lawrence) Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg and McClure wanted the cultural power of the music. They had that power to a point, but the music added to those possibilities. For Dylan too, at that stage in his career it was also expedient to be identified with them. It created this extended community"
Taylor (from a piece on Allen's 1965 visit to Liverpool) - "Ginsberg would have said Liverpool was the center of consciousness or whatever, because of  The Beatles. He had a crush on them, just as he had on Dylan. Young men of obvious talent and massive fame. Al was what we call a star-fucker. And he was right, Liverpool was a vortex of consciousness, on account of (John) Lennon, for my money."
The interview with Taylor (alongside another Beat Scene profile of him) would be worth the price of admission alone, but the book contains several other invaluable extended interviews, with such figures as McClure, David Amram (recollecting Pull My Daisy), and, most interestingly, the late Larry Keenan. It was Keenan, who famously shot, for example, this picture: 


[Michael McClure, Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg, San Francisco, 1965 - photo by Larry Keenan]

(see also the picture on Text and Drugs and Rock 'N' Roll's cover)

Larry Keenan: "Everybody wanted to be Dylan so bad, it was amazing. Look at that photo over there of McClure, Dylan and Ginsberg, They all wanted to be Dylan so hard in that photo, it's incredible, you know?" 

"(So) the case for Ginsberg's connection to the rock scene", Warner writes, "and the countercultural flow, even if we only outline his links to Dylan and the Beatles, the two major acts, after all, to come to the fore in the mid-1960's, is hard to dispute. Nor can we dismiss the pro-active efforts of the singer and the group to trigger and strengthen their links with the poet over many years"

And from the 6o's, to the '70's and '80's - As we've previously noted here and here, "Allen was a punk rocker". Steven Taylor again: "I did hang out a bit with a band called The Stimulators in New York City who included Denise Mercedes, who was Peter Orlovsky's girlfriend but also a really good guitar player, who was also a friend of Mick Ronson and Bob Dylan. Bob gave her a guitar and Mick gave her a Marshall amp and she went and played with Rat Scabies (of The Damned) for a while [in 1978] in England. And when she came back.. she had become a different musician  and had become very powerful..and started this terrific band..." 
The Stimulators (and later Steven's own punk band, The False Prophets) were constant visitors and guests, during those years, at Allen's Lower East Side New York apartment. 
His connect to (indeed, subsequent recording with) The Clash (the result of him being turned on to them by Steven) further consolidated his "punk cred".
Steven again: "You know, you think of punk as a sort of rock 'n' roll purist, in the sense that you see it as an alternative voice, a democratic voice, an opportunity for the under-priviliged to speak. And he [Allen] saw it that way too, and he was much more articulate about it than I could ever be... Yes. Primitive. A notion of a kind of neo-primitivism which he was interested in, where he would talk about, say, the punk kids walking around with feathers in their ears, going back to a kind of native American sense, or their understanding of neo-primitivist anarchist politics, and doing it, doing it yourself. DIY...which he connected..to underground cinema of the 1950s and 1969s, and to poetry too.."  

Warner's book, coming out of England, aside from the Liverpool chapter, has, undoubtedly, the most comprehensive survey of "British Beat" (interviews with Michael Horovitz, Pete Brown,Kevin Ring..), as well as informative Q & A's with American Beat scholars, Levi Asher and Jonah Raskin, and a whole lot more. 

Jonah Raskin (conflict of interests? - no, not really!) gets to blurb the book:
"At long last, an electrifying exploration of the Beat Generation writers and the wild guitarists and poetic songwriters who transformed world culture. Bravo to Simon Warner for breaking down all the sound barriers and for bridging the literary and musical geniuses of our time. Hail Hail Text and Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll"

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday's Weekly Round Up - 123

Allen Ginsberg, S.F. 1994.

[Allen Ginsberg, San Francisco 1994 - photograph by Chris Felver (from the Berg Collection at the
New York Public Library


Belatedly noting the passing (he died April 11, aged 86) of the noted free-speech lawyer, Edward De Grazia, "one of the country's foremost advocates of the First Amendment, championing the causes of writers, publishers, film-makers and others who challenged legal and moral conventions" (as his Washington Post's obituary-note succinctly puts it). 
De Grazia was the author of the wonderfully-titled, (and wonderfully-comprehensive), Girls Lean Back Everywhere -The Laws of Obscenity and the Assault on Genius (the source of that title, by the way - a quote from Jane Heap, who, along with Margaret Anderson, her fellow-editor at The Little Review, was, in 1920, ignobly subjected to criminal prosecution for publishing episodes from James Joyce's Ulysses) - "Mr Joyce was not teaching early Egyptian perversions, nor inventing new ones.", she astutely observed. "Girls lean back everywhere, showing lace and silk stockings...men think thoughts and have emotions about these things everywhere - seldom as delicately and imaginatively as Mr (Leopold) Bloom - and no one is corrupted".  

Ed De Grazia
[Edward De Grazia (1927-2013)]


"I met Allen Ginsberg in the fall of 1964 on the eve of the Boston trial of William Burroughs'  Naked Lunch", De Grazia writes. "Allen helped Burroughs write Naked Lunch and helped me to orchestrate the novel's defence....After the trial we took a train back to New York together and became friends and allies.."  (For more of De Grazia's memories of Allen and his pivotal testimony in that ground-breaking Boston trial see here.) - Allen, De Grazia recalls, "talked virtually without interruption for nearly an hour about the structure of Burroughs' novel and about the social and political importance of its images and ideas -  It occurred to me (then) that Allen understood the novel even better than Burroughs did"

Richie Havens
[Richie Havens (1941-2013)]

Another loss - legendary guitar-player and singer Richie Havens passed away this week. Don't know how many of you out there know the Allen Ginsberg connection but, early in his career, before turning to music, Havens was a young, aspiring "Beatnik poet" in the coffee-houses of Greenwich Village. It was Allen, and Allen's enthusiasm, that was instrumental in setting him up on the road to a life-time career of performing -  "Yes, I used to come from Brooklyn, you know", he told NPR's Scott Simon, in a radio-interview back in 2008, "We'd sit in the Gaslight and all that and listen. And he [Allen] used to come over and look at our..books (that) we had on the table, and finally he says to us, "what's in those books? And we said, "poetry", you know. He says, "get up there". So I ended up on stage in the Gaslight.." "We used to see them [the Beats] just about every night. (Jack) Kerouac was there and quite a few (of the) guys [sic]..." 

Another  'Sixties memory, buried in a more generalized article (about Kenneth Koch and Jorge Luis Borges!) comes from Bruce Cowin (recalling his student days at Columbia and college radio). Allen agreed to appear on his radio show, Cowin recalls, "on condition that we buy him dinner". The interview lasted about an hour, but was, regrettably, never broadcast - "because "The Change" [the poem Allen had just written and chose to start with that night] began with the word "Shit" - and went on from there" [pedantic editorial note - the poem, at least in its published form, doesn't actually contain the word "shit", but there's plenty in it that, from the first stanza on, ("sucking/his cock like a baby crying Fuck/me in my asshole"!) - that would certainly (and in those early days, 1963, 1964), nix it for the censors].

City Lights 60th Anniversary? - here's an interesting article from Highbrow magazine

Two more reviews of Hal Willner's "Kaddish" (from Richard Scheinin in the San Jose Mercury News) and James Patterson (in the Bay Area Reporter).

Two more interviews, in the seemingly-never-ending stream of Beat-related interviews published on Michalis Limnios'  Blues.Gr(eece) site -  Corso-scholar Kirby Olson and Kerouac scholar Gerald Nicosia.

& Steven Berger reviews Hilary Holladay's American Hipster - A Life of Herbert Huncke for Edge on-line here

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spontaneous Poetics - 66 (William Carlos Williams 10 - Williams' Prosody)


William Carlos Williams
[William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)] 


AG: I've been thinking of what are the different considerations of mindful open-verse forms. And I made a very brief list (composed of elements we've already discussed) just as academic reference-points. If one were to analyze (William Carlos) Williams' versification, what are the different inclinations he has in mind when he's putting the words down on the page, or re-arranging them on the page?

First, we had consciousness of syllables and syllable count, as he practiced, and his friend Marianne Moore practiced. That is to say, arranging phrasings on the page with four syllables, four syllables, four syllables, four syllables, or four-three, four-three (just syllables, without any question of stress, accent, or vowel-length quantity). He was very conscious of that because Marianne Moore was doing that and then Kenneth Rexroth used that method for composing poetry. (The) seven syllable line. It was also something suggested by Chinese, Tibetan, and Japanese poetry, which is counted by syllables. That was in the air. People knew about that. So that there was an increasing mindfulness of syllables - actually hearing syllable-by-syllable, when-you-are-thinking-of-the-line-even-when-you-are-pro-nouncing-it-and-especially-when-you-are-arranging-it-on-the-page. So, after a while, the ear hears syllables, and for those whose breath is articulated into mindful speech and those that are so mindful of speech that they can even teach speech, there is a question of how you talk and how you mouth your syllables and how you pronounce your consonants and clarify your "p"'s and use your lips, when you are talking. And that makes you more and more conscious of syllables  (especially if [like Bob Dylan] you pronounce it aloud before audiences of 27,000 people, because, with all that machinery, they (need to have) to be able to hear! - or, (even) over a microphone at the Museum of Modern Art, it's necessary to articulate, so that each syllable is heard clearly, so that there is no mistake in the intention of each syllable). So that's a lesson that was learned by Bob Dylan certainly. Williams had some sense of that playfulness of mouthing which goes along with consciousness of count of syllable. It's just a quality you develop - both of pronouncing and pronouncing clearly and precisely and using your mouth, as I was just taught an hour ago (sic). But that leads to consciousness of syllables, that is consciousness of pronunciation leads you to be more conscious syllable-by-syllable, and syllable-by-syllable mental awareness leads you to be more prounounce-y. Marianne Moore did do stanza forms by counting syllables and making arrangements of different butterfly-wing-like patterns of syllables, stanza to stanza.
Do you know her work, B? [Allen addresses one of the students] - Marianne Moore? - If you look at a page of her work, there'll be some.. they'll be arrangements. Maybe I'll bring one of her poems in next time, or [Allen looks into a poetry anthology] - there probably is one  (in) here. But I don't want to go into the syllable-count as a field, yet. I just want to make this list.

Obviously, second, there is accent, which is built into earlier English prosody so we hear it all the time. And when we talk, there is accent in the talk. I think Williams at one point said it was... what's the opposite of dactylic?.. anapestic.. what is anapest? - duh-duh-dah

Student: Duh-duh-dah, duh-duh-dah , duh-duh-dah

AG: If-you-think, when-you-hear, when-I-talk, you-can-say, it-might-be, some kind of dactyl. Williams thought that American speech tended toward dactylic, I believe..what did we decide?

Student: Anapestic

AG: Anapetic. He said one or the other. I've forgotten. Duh-duh-dah - was that anapest?

Student: Yeah

AG: I think he said (that) American speech tended toward anapestic. Just if you want to refine your ear a bit and get out of writing duh-dah, duh-dah, duh-dah, duh-dah - iambic or trochaic - if you want to get out of writing two-syllable rhythms, you might vary things a bit by getting into the custom of being mindful of anapest - duh-duh-dah.
Does everybody know the difference between.. does everybody know iamb, trochee, dactyl, and anapest? Raise your hand if you don't know those. How many is that there? [pointing to another student] (JS)]? 

Student: I can't.. I mean, if you asked me which was which, I couldn't say.  

AG: But you've got the basic principle down. (Yes?) We don't have a blackboard. I forgot to order up a blackboard..

Student: Would you like a blackboard?

AG: WEll, I'll do it abstractly.  Yeah, I'd love a blackboard. I'm sorry I didn't think of it before.. (I) forgot..(B) and I went over this material, actually, Sunday night.. Well, we'll get (back) to it when we have something visual. I don't want to get too hung up on it.
Not everybody knows that the basis of traditional English poetry and song was the count of accents, and these are the different accentual systems, consisting of  duh-dah, duh-dah, duh-dah, duh-dah, duh-dah - (is iambic) - and dah-duh, dah-duh, dah-duh, dah-duh - (that's trochaic) - duh-duh-dah, duh-duh-dah, duh-duh-dah, duh-duh-dah (anapestic) - dah-duh-duh, dah-duh-duh, dah-duh-duh, dah-duh-duh (dactylic). Those are the simplest and the nomenclature is taken from Roman and Greek forms, Roman and Greek count (which was (a) count of vowel-length, not of accent, originally, vowel-length). Yeah? 


Student: Do you know if there's any particular reason those particular rhythms became standards? - like, of all the myriad rhythms that could be used?. When I think of those particular ones..(so) for some reason they got this following or something...

AG: Well, it's a great mystery. Because they don't seem to follow American speech. And yet they're imposed on the forms of American speech to compose poems. But they don't seem to follow the forms of American speech. If you listen, you can hear the tongue tripping on a different rhythm. So.. It is said that they are the basic rhythms of English speech, but I wasn't around when they were speaking it, when they evolved that system of notation, evolving it out of classical models of notation of quantity of speech, that is the vowel-lengths, attention to vowel-lengths, as they did in Greek and Latin, which we were talking about earlier in the term when (GT) was reciting Homer. 

So there is vowel-length, then, as another element of when you're mouthing, as well as particularity of consonant pronunciation, there's also the long charm of vowel-mouthings - opening your mouth somewhat and "halling" your voice, or making a theatrical.. making a concert-hall of your open mouth, and filling your open mouth with a  big "ah", "oh", "ay", "ee", "eye", "oh", "you" (like, "I-i-i-i-di-ot Wind/ blowing round in circles around your skullll/ from the Grand Coulee dam to the Capitolll".."You're an idiot, babe, lt's a wonder you can even still now breatttthhhe" - that's Dylan's "Idiot Wind", as he developed the vowel-elongations in later singings, after the original recording [Allen slightly misquotes the line here to make his point])...it finally got to be "I-i-i-i-i--diot Wind" (as "Like A Rolling Sto-oh-oh-oh-ne", or whatever the tone is). That's sort of..music, finally - that vowel-awareness and vowel-energy and vowel-physicality is the musical-tune element of poetry (or the melopoeic part of poetry). 

[A blackboard arrives, and Allen returns to stress notation, marking it out on the blackboard] - Now, the system of notation generally used  - two, three, four, five - no - this is a light, that's a heavy accent - your accents - you've (all) seen these around haven't you? - all over - most everyone has seen all this around - Is there anyone who's never seen this put down on the blackboard? - huh? - ok - so that's iambic - and dah-duh, dah-duh, dah-duh, dah-duh - trochaic - This is iambic pentameter - pente - five - pente-meter - five-meter - five of each - trochaic - tetra-meter - four - Let's see, we had our anapest - duh-duh-dah, duh-duh-dah, duh-duh-dah, duh-duh-dah - What's that? anapestic?..

Student: Tetrameter?

AG: No, no, that's hexameter - hexa-meter - six - six feet - duh-duh-dah, duh-duh-dah, duh-duh-dah, duh-duh-dah, duh-duh-dah, duh-duh-dah - six feet (because it was a dance rhythm originally - that's why we have the poetic "foot", because these were originally danced to in the Greek choruses. So the chorus would sweep across the stage going duh-duh-dah-dah, or whatever more complicated beat they might have like dah-duh-duh-dah-dah, dah-duh-duh-dah, dah-duh-duh-dah-dah, and at the same time chanting syllables to fit the meter. So that's why we have what we call the poetic foot, because it originally comes from dance) [points to a blackboard notation] (And) this is what? Anapestic?

Student:  And that's what American speech is supposed to be like?

AG: [mock-exasperated] "Why-you-fool!" - "don't-you-know?" "can't-you-hear?" - That's an excited speech. Anapestic is very often for excited speech, ecstatic speech - "Why-you-fool" - "Don't-you-hear" -  "Can't-you-tell" - "Oh-shut-up" - "It-is-on", or "Get-it-on".. is anapestic  "Get it on" would be anapestic. So there are elements of American, as Williams said, that stick(s) to that pattern - "when-you-talk", "there's-sometimes" "to-come-out" "in-that-way".

Student: "If-you-try"

AG   : "If-you-try", "If-you-hear","Then-it's-clear", "So-what's-here"? "What's-up-here"?
Dactylic - dah-duh-duh, dah-duh-duh, dah-duh-duh, da-duh-duh, dah...  Well, that's enough - dah-duh-duh, dah-duh-duh, dah-duh-duh, da-duh-duh, dah - Wait dah-duh-duh, dah-duh-duh, dah-duh-duh - that would be dactylic trimeter - thrice - three - tri-meter - Any of them can be monometer (one), dimeter (two feet), trimeter (three feet), tetrameter (four feet), pentameter (five feet), hexameter (six feet), septameter (seven feet), octameter (eight feet), novameter? - Dactylic trimeter. My father specialized in writing iambic dimeter. "When verse is terse/ it's zest is best,/ so I shall try,/ to hammer my stammer,/ and beat it neat,/exact, compact". Or what remains to be done is maybe to flesh those paradigms (the word for these pictures, analyses of the rhythm, (they), I think, are called "paradigms", or can be used with the word "paradigm" - nice word - like the word "spectral" is a nice word, "paradigm" is a nice word, it's the spectral form of the meter.
Wyatt - yes (Sir Thomas Wyatt) - "Forget not yet the tried intent" - Wyatt, that I was reading earlier, that would be iambic. Trochaic? - "Had we never loved sae kindly" [Robert Burns] probably would sound like that - "had we never loved sae kindly" - Anapest? - We've had anapest in our speech now, but, "With the dew on his brow and the rust on his mail" is (Lord) Byron.  These are examples I'm taking from the back of the Norton Anthology, which has a little summary of all this. Dactyl? - "Black were her eyes as the berry that grows on the thorn by the wayside [Longfellow] would be the dactylic six-foot meter.
I got into this because (B) here [Allen points to student], who is German, wanted to know what were the basic meters of the American or English language, and I hadn't even tried to teach them before (or have, but not in any kind of orderly, form, and I haven't developed a way of teaching it, but, apparently, some people don't know it exactly), so (we) might as well put it up on the blackboard. (L), for example, [Allen points to another student], you've never gone through this, have you ever?

Student: I remember vaguely...

AG: And.. Does it make sense now?

Student: Yeah

AG: It's easy. No big deal, actually. Because what's interesting are the more complicated meters. "Howl" is written in much more.., basically, stress meters, to a great extent , but they're Greek dance rhythms and (have) names which I don't know, like amphibrach or choliambic - which are like the choliambic dancing. I don't know actually what they are, in terms of their.. if you were to analyze them, but.. a line like "Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows!/ Moloch whose factories creek and smoke in the fog!, Moloch whose..."  I've forgotten "Howl" (!), so, I can't use that an example anymore, can't remember it! -  ["Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows! Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long streets like endless Jehovah's..."] -  "Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the loveless!/ Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy judger of men!/ Moloch the incomprehensible prison!/ Moloch the crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of sorrows/ Moloch whose buildings are judgement!..." - I really don't remember it, so, (I'll) leave it alone.  So those are in more complicated, longer meters, not just the maximum we've got to, (which) is three parts - what do they call it? - arsis and thesis - I think this is arsis and thesis within the meter. Interestingly enough, the two parts of the iambic meter are arsis and thesis.



Student: Allen?

AG: Yes

Student: Did you learn the Greek dance rhythms before you began "Howl"?

AG: No, they are intuitive to the body, I think (though I had them from Shelley, Hart Crane, Vachel Lindsay, some Milton and Shakespeare - ecstatic poetry) - and then from my own vocal-chords, and dancing, and jacking-off under bridges (the rhythms that you get into in jacking-off, actually, or in fucking, or.. they're basic body-rhythms these rhythms, like "pump-pump-pump, pump-pump-pump" - basic orgasmic rhythms, I think, so they just run through the body. Also they're inevitable, I think. If you're going to hear accents, you'll either hear it light or heavy. If there's going to be accents, there's going to be difference, so it'll be light or heavy. So, accent - we've got all that, for the moment, dealt with in a rudimentary form. Anybody who wants to know anymore, just come (and) see me. Syllables, accents, vowels..  

[to be continued..] 
Audio for the above is available at http://archive.org/details/Allen_Ginsberg_class_on_William_Carlos_Williams_and_prosody_June_1976_76P051, starting at approximately four-and-a-quarter minutes in and through to approximately twenty-four-and-a-quarter minutes 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Spontaneous Poetics - 65 (William Carlos Williams 9)




Student: Allen, I've heard a lot about that poem of Williams about a cat walking on a fence. Do you think you could find that one?

AG: A poem about a cat walking on a fence?


Student: Yeah.


AG: I could find it somewhere but it would take a while and I would spend so much time looking over it that everybody would get bored and think I was a drag.


Student: (Then) don't.


AG: I think it ends with the cat putting his feet into a flower-pot, stepping carefully off. Just like the same mindfulness (of) the sparrow alighting (and) disturbing only one branch, the cat very mindfully stepping, perhaps off the fence, or over the window-sill, putting one foot into a flower-pot and then another..


Student: Allen, I think the first line is "The cat steps over.." So if you want to look at just the first line...


AG: Unfortunately, there's no list of first lines in this book, there's only a list of titles. It's a defective book. I mean, it's a defective hardcover edition of Williams


Student: I think that's one poem where Williams kind of makes you hear the silence..


AG: Yeah


Student: ..because as the cat's putting his feet... in the flower-pot, it's not making any sound at all.. and you can hear it not making any sound...


AG: Um-hmm - Yeah, that one has that same silence as the one called "Silence" (the one about the sparrow)..


Let's see if there's anything else of importance. Oh, there's a funny one that's just like (Charles) Reznikoff, a little later on here - "The Horse" - Oh yeah, there's a couple - "The Maneuver" - more about little birds. He did it, apparently, continuously over a period of years - observe the birds, the sparrows, around him, or starlings. [Allen reads "The Maneuver" - "I saw the two starlings/ coming in toward the wires/But at the last,/ just before alighting, they/ turned in the air together/ and landed backwards!/ that's what got me - to/ face into the wind's teeth"] - So this is perhaps less literary - "That's what got me" - It's called "The Maneuver" -  "turned in the air together/ and landed backwards!/ that's what got me" - that's really American tongue there - " to/ face into the wind's teeth"].

"The Horse" - [Allen next reads "The Horse" - "The horse moves/ independently/without reference/ to his load..".."his nostrils/like fumes from/ the twin/ exhausts of a car"] - that's a similie - "like" - he indulged himself in a little simile, but it's a simile between local horse and (an) even more contemporary artifact, the car (so he doesn't feel it's too far-fetched, that idea, in terms of ordinariness.

(Next), a very beautiful piece, which includes perfect description (as of a flower) and perfect reproduction of conversation (because part of the object that Williams is perceiving is his own speech the speech of others). So, language, speech, is, in itself, a starling, a bird, or a set of birds whose behavior could be observed. The way people talk can be watched as closely as roses or starlings, and reproduced on the page with equal accuracy. This is called "The Act" (which is a poem I think Robert Creeley observed at great length, profited from, (and) imitated in his first book. Creeley's earliest poems are very directly arrived (at) by these very short later poems of Williams. Creeley's titles are very similar, in fact. [Allen reads Williams' poem,  "The Act" - "There were the roses in the rain./ Don't cut them, I pleaded/ They won't last, she said/ But they're so beautiful/ where they are./ Agh, we were all beautiful once, she/ said,/ and cut them and gave them to me/ in my hand."] - So here's a combination of..     well, there's a little description - "There were the roses in the rain" - sort of like a very little fast Cezanne notation (or like Picasso or Matisse - more Matisse - a little Matisse line - very abstracted by that point) - "There were the roses in the rain" - But his attention is really on the qualities (well, what's said, of course, the content of the speech, but the way it's said). Because I think this was probably the first time, one of the first times perhaps, if not the first time in American diction, that they used the word "agh" - spelled A-G-H. That took a certain amount of courage in those days to say "Agh", to actually have him say, or hear his wife say "Agh" and include that, instead of amnesia-izing the "agh" and having her say "ah.." or "oh.. we were all beautiful once" - "Agh, we were all beautiful once" - that "agh" that carries exactly the right.. its the mot juste, it carries just the precise feeling in America for that mudra, that vocal gesture.  So he was a great teacher for that, I think, a great teacher of definite perception of speech. So the lesson out of this is (that) you (should) pay attention. If you pay attention to your own speech and.. when you're writing, just do it in the order that your mind suggests (but making use of accidents of speech, or of idiosyncratic noises, idiosyncratic syntax, idiosyncratic meaning, (broken or non-symmetrical, or not, by the rules), or invented, or (by) chance, or accidental, or customary (like "uh"?) [ the interrogative "uh"?]


Student: Was Williams familiar with Chinese at all


AG: Was Williams familiar with Chinese?. I don't think he read Chinese, although he read, as I said, lots of Chinese poetry and translations through Pound, and through the vogue of (the) Chinoiserie of those years in letters, but he didn't know Chinese directly, no. I think at one time, around this time actually, come to think of it, he worked with a young translating poet from San Francisco who used to hang around City Lights, and he was corresponding with him. The kid - I forgot his name..David Wang, perhaps - was a friend and correspondent of Ezra Pound and was corresponding also with Williams. I think Pound had sent David Wang to Williams, and they had a little project of doing some Chinese translations according to Poundian-Williamsesque principles, but that was the closest he got. So probably David Wang sent him some written characters with the translations, some pages with the Chinese characters and translations, so he could see the pictures, with the pictures explained. 


[tape ends here - new tape inserted - class continues - audio for this continuation available at http://archive.org/details/Allen_Ginsberg_class_on_William_Carlos_Williams_and_prosody_June_1976_76P051 -  the first four-and-a-quarter minutes]      


AG: Well. There's one other piece of language here,  him trying to make up sounds and talk English and talk American (and) write a little bit of Romantic poetry - "The Injury"  [Allen reads William Carlos Williams' poem "The Injury" in its entirety - "From this hospital bed/ I can hear an engine/ breathing - somewhere/ in the night:/ -Soft coal, soft coal,/ soft coal!/ And I know it is men/ breathing/ shoveling, resting - "..."rounding/ the curve - /the slow way because/ (if you can find any way) that is/ the only way left now/ for you."] - Meaning, I think, men, sick and dying, perhaps, in bed. There is no way out except in this world and the details of this world, fading, perhaps. I was interested in that poem (for) just the refrain - "-Soft coal, soft coal,/ soft coal! - the American-ess of those words.

So this brings up the question, then, if you have these perceptions, specific detail, and you have a mind to observe the perceptions, and you have a mind to observe the appropriate language equivalent to the perceptions (language that comes from the same world as the detailed perception, language that comes from the real world of the senses and speech), what's poetry? - or, how do you make a poem out of all that? - or, to put it even more succinctly, if you could find the words, say, if you had the words (you could get the words, I guess, from your mind), how do you put them out on the page (if the subject of the poem is not the form - like the sonnet)? If the subject is not the ballad, if the subject is not the inherited form but the subject is the subjective form, if the subject is made up by your own body, if the subject is drawn only from your own mind, with no reference to classical rhythms of speech or classical methods of perception, or classical methods of perception, in the sense of, say, generalization, abstraction, philosophy - that's not exactly classical. Let's see..the deteriorated classical of the 19th Century, the classical style of the 19th Century, which had become sing-song (especially in America), abstracted (except for Whitman, of course, and a few others - Stephen Crane, some Melville, some Emily Dickinson) - how do you arrange the patterns on the page? how do you arrange the speech-patterns on the page?

And so here we go into the question of Williams' prosody, which is a matter of exercise of the same mindfulness of detail as his exercise of mindfulness in perceiving the subject-matter, or the objects of the poems, that he writes about in the poems.