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

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