Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Expansive Poetics - 14 (Walt Whitman - 3)

                            ["Monstrous sauroids transported it in their mouths and deposited it with care" ]

AG: Well, he (Whitman) says, in section 44 (of "Song of Myself") - "It is time to explain myself", at long last - "Let us stand up./ What is known I strip away/ I launch all men and women forward into the Unknown/ The clock indicates the moment - but what does eternity indicate?/ We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters and summers,/ There are trillions ahead, and trillions ahead of them./ Births have brought us richness and variety,. And other births will bring us richness and variety./ I do not call one greater and one smaller/That which fills its period and place is equal to any/  Were mankind murderous or jealous upon you, my brother, my sister?/ I am sorry for you, they are not murderous or jealous upon me,/ All has been gentle with me, I keep no account with lamentation,/ (What have I to do with lamentation?)/ I am the acme of things accomplish'd, and I an encloser of things to be./ My feet strike an apex of the apices of the stairs/On every step bunches of ages, and larger bunches between the steps,/ All below duly travel'd, and still I mount and mount." - Well, there's a funny thing going on there, because, actually, there's a literalness to what he's saying too, now. Because he is the by-product of a long, long, long, trillionic-eons many-billioned kalapa-ed evolution to have arrived where he is in the footsteps of Walt Whitman, carrying his bones around and wearing his animal shoes. 

Then he's got this great line - "Before I was born out of my mother, generations guided me,/ My embryo has never been torpid, nothing could overlay it" - His "embryo"! - "For it is the nebula cohered to an orb,/The last slow strata piled to rest it on,/Vast vegetables gave it sustenance/Monstrous sauroids transported it in their mouths and deposited it with care" - That's a terrific line, I think

Student: What was that again? 

AG: "Monstrous sauroids" -  S-A-U-R-O-I-D-S

Student: What's a sauroid?

AG: What's a sauroid?

Student: Lizard  [editorial note: from the Greek word "sauros"]

AG: A lizard

Student: Yeah.. Wow!

AG:  "Monstrous..."

Student: Prehistoric monsters

AG: Yeah, well, big, big, big ones      

Student: Yeah, dinosaurs [editorial note: from the Greek words for "thunder" and "lizard"] 

AG: "Monsterous sauroids" - I think they're the vegetable-eaters.

Student: Sauroids, yeah, brontosaurus, and..

AG: Yeah. "Monsterous sauroids" - Pardon me?

Student: Flying lizards? With 70-foot wing-spans, or something like that?

AG: Were they the sauroids? No, they're the pterodactyls or something [editorial note - a pterodactyl is a member of the pterosauroids - flying lizards - from the Greek words for "wing" and "lizard"] 

Student; Well, there are lot of different ones

AG: Okay. Does anybody know the...

Student: The saroids must be the, you know, like brontosaurus and.. dipshitsaurus!

AG; Yeah. Ok. ( So) I'd like to introduce CC, who recently arrived as the teaching assistant in this class - former expert in the Boston zoological garden birdhouse. So he may have some knowledge of the sauroids.

Student (CC): How to clean up after them!

AG: How to clean up after the sauroids - "Monsterous sauroids transported"  his "embryo", "in their mouths and deposited it with care" - terrific line! - (Jack) Kerouac inherited that kind of exaggeration. Exaggeration rhetoric.

So, in section 46, finally, it concludes [Allen, in fact, reads from the conclusion of section 45] - "My rendezvous is appointed, it is certain,/ The Lord will be there and wait till I come on perfect terms/ The great Camerado, the true lover for whom I pine will be there."

Student: Oh!

AG: Well, why not? I mean, if "monstrous sauroids" were there. So [Allen now reading from section 46] -  "Shoulder your duds dear son, and I will mine, and let us hasten forth,/ Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go."

[Audio for the above is available here, starting at approximately twenty-one minutes in and concluding approximately twenty-four-and-a-half minutes in]

No comments:

Post a Comment