Thursday, January 19, 2012

Edgar Allan Poe

[Edgar Allan Poe, 1848 - from original daguerreotype by William S Hartshorn - collection of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division]

In the Summer of '39, 13-year-old Allen graduated from grammar school. He listed Edgar Allan Poe (sic) as his favorite author and (Hugh Lofting's) Dr. Doolittle as his favorite book!

In May 1944, he published in the Columbia Jester Review, "A Night in the Village with Edgar Allen Ginsberg."!

From "Howl" - famously, from "Howl" - "who studied Plotinus Poe St John of the Cross
telepathy and bop kabbalah because the universe instinctively vibrated at their feet.."

"Everything leads to Poe", he later declared, "You can trace all literary art to Poe's influence: Burroughs, Baudelaire, Genet, Dylan...It all leads back to Poe".

From his Naropa lecture in 1981 on "Expansive Poetics" (the audio here contains readings by Allen of both "Annabel Lee" and "The Bells"):

""The Bells" was the earliest poem I knew and that determined my rhythmic system, probably, because my father would go around the house reciting it because he taught it in high school. So the way that he recited it was very rapid and purely emphasizing the rhythm. Has anybody heard this read aloud? Yeah, I've read it here a few times...That's a real piece of sound. That's really amazing. There's not very many people who get that, that powerful a rhythmic cadence. Has anybody here ever tried writing with that jingle jangle jingle at all? It's really interesting to try.. The thing that I notice is that it's actually really rare among poets to get a construction of sound that's as definitely rhythmical as that. That's to say, you've got the rhythm, but you've also got the vocables of the sounds of the vowels that make it possible for the rhythm not merely to be sing-song but actually be clangorous and effective in the mouth and in the ear....
(Percy Bysshe) Shelley has it - that mighty, passionate, rhythmic force - Poe has it. I think that's the highest thing that poetry has, actually. Pure sound. Pure musical sound. Of course, a lot of people don't like it, because they say it's just stupid, that is, it's just pure sound and there's no intellect (or there's no serious conception that goes along with it). Except, the physical excitement in itself (or) the ecstasy of that kind of pronouncement is another form of intelligence. It certainly makes you more open to sympathies (the sympathies of nature, say), more open to sex, probably, makes you more open to music, to the beat of your own heart, the possibility of your own excitements. It makes you more open to the possibility of your own ecstasy, and that, certainly, would lead to intelligence, if it isn't intelligence itself."

Allen goes on to note: " Jack Kerouac's favorite rhythm in Poe is "Annabel Lee" - and that was one poem Kerouac knew by heart. And I think it was the rhythm in that he imitated..that turned him on..a very specific rhythm, as well as the dreamy symbolism."

And - "Everybody (know) "The Raven"? Anybody here never hear "The Raven"? Anybody? "The Raven" is the one poem that finally penetrated through every skull. Terrific. I always liked that one."

Edgar Allan Poe was born on this day.

Lets salute the event (notwithstanding the no-show last night of "the (late lamented) Poe Toaster"!)

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