[Thomas Hood 1799-1845]
GC: Okay, now I'd like to revive a poet. Remember I gave you Tom Hood, the other day, right? Tom Hood - why I think he should be looked at in a kind of way where you might look at other poets that you've never checked out. Here we go. (Page) 282. Nobody has this book? You don't have this book? Alright. He's under the title of "Minor Romantic Poets", and, dig how this dude who put this book together puts Hood down. [Gregory begins quoting from the anthology] - "Two writers who have distinguished themselves in the creation of light humorous verse and parodies are Thomas Love Peacock and Thomas Hood".. both 18th Century and early 19th, late 18th.."Peacock was by profession a businessman for a long time in the service of the East India Company, but he had (a) pronounced talent for burlesque romances, particularly illustrated by "Headlong Hall' (1816), "Nightmare Abbey".."..which is alright, there's (some Percy Bysshe) Shelley in that.. "..and "Crochet Castle". In these romances, he occasionally..." [Gregory breaks off] - I don't wanna read about him..wait till I get to Hood..oh yeah.."Hood is a less subtle type of humorist. I fact, he depends for greater part of his humorous effect upon the play on words. His odes and addresses and his other verse composed while he had connection with The London Magazine show however a considerable variety of subject-matter. There is contained in them fanciful verse, humorous verse and humanitarian verse.." - See, that's the clue, how this guy hit it on "humanitarian" by saying he was (a) "minor" - "Indeed, it is preferable to think of him as a poet who is more interested in the social ills of his time than in mere clowning.." - I think that's why you've got to check out Hood - "..He is actually a kind of transition figure to the Victorian period. His "Bridge of Sighs" and "Song of the Shirt" are to be considered social documents rather than great or even good poetry" - Now this is this dude saying it - "social documents, rather than great or good poetry". Alright, I'll give you a hit of his "Bridge of Sighs" and his "Song of the Shirt". (First, "Bridge of Sighs"), page 293 [Gregory begins reading the first stanza of Hood's poem] - "One more Unfortunate/ Weary of breath/ Rashly importunate/ Gone to her death!" - Now, this is on suicide, he was writing that. That's not clowning around, but it does sound funny. It does, yeah. It does sound funny, Allen. Well, yeah.
Allen Ginsberg: Well, not suicide, but isn't he going to be killed over the Bridge of Sighs?
GC: The Bridge of Sighs is where they jump off
Allen Ginsberg: It's where they take 'em..
GC: Drown, drown, Hamlet, right?
Allen Ginsberg: I thought that was where they took 'em from the Court..
GC: No way. Yeah, that's where the Court was, the Bridge of Sighs, but they jumped from it. That's in Venice, where Casanova walked over. But it's a very funny poem - "One more Unfortunate/ Weary of breath/ Rashly importunate/ Gone to her death.." [Gregory continues reading the poem] - "...Still, for all slips of hers/ One of Eve's family - /Wipe those poor lips of hers/ Oozing so clammily" - It's in here. That breaks that poem up for me. It really then makes it like a joking poem - "Oozing so clammily"? - Yuck! That's embarrassing. Wait a minute. [Gregory continues] - "Loop up her tresses..." [continues and reads the rest of the poem] - "..Owning her weakness/ Her evil behaviour,/And leaving, with meekness,/ Her sins to her Saviour." - It's a long poem and it sucks. It goes too far into it and that "clammily" kind of made me really suspect him. I think you should take Tom Hood off your list, (yeah, I can give you Poe, Poe..
Anne Waldman: Isn't Shelley in there? [in the book, in the anthology]
GC: Poe had "Helen, thy beauty is to me/ Like those Nicean barks of yore".."How to hold an agate lamp in the hand" ["How statue-like I see thee stand/The agate lamp within thy hand"]- "O light by that dome..".. I think "The Bells" is the most musical poem. I think "Annabel Lee" may be the top class American poem ever written, for music.
Audio for this (including Gregory (Corso)'s reading of Hood) can be heard at http://www.archive.org/details/Allen_Ginsberg_class_The_history_of_poetry_part_3_June_1975_75P004 beginning approximately nineteen minutes in and continuing until approximately twenty-six and-a-half minutes in