Monday, November 30, 2015

H. Phelps Putnam - Hasbrouk and the Rose

                                                         [H Phelps Putnam (1894-1948)]

Allen's Basic Poetics class (today from July 1st, 1980)  continues. The tape begins approximately one-and-a-half minutes in. There is some brief delay at the beginning.
AG:  I’ll be right back, I’m going to get a chair  -  PO: Do you want me to get one?

AG: Sorry I didn’t get here earlier… There were a couple of little things I wanted to clean up that I mentioned before. We were talking about “All the night by  rose, rose” – what was that? anybody know where that is? – “All night by the rose, rose/All night by the rose I lay – “All night by the rose, rose" - (page six) –“All night by the rose I lay/Dare I not the rose steal"  (actually, "dare I not the rose tree steal") – that is, he was scared to steal the whole tree but he bore the rose away – “Dare I not the rose steal/ Yet I bore the flower away"

So, there is a mention here of a poem, a twentieth-century poem by Phelps Putnam that seemed to borrow from that, a poem I always liked, it’s obscure, a poem of H.Phelps Putnam, who was a friend of e e cummings and a lot of big-time poets of the (19)20’s, who had some kind of reputation in the (19)20’s and early (19)30’s, and then drank a good deal and fell into obscurity, and his Collected Poems were put out in the early (19)70’s, and didn’t make much of a splash. And he’s kind of an interesting figure of his time. And there’s one classic poem he wrote called “Hasbrouck  and The Rose”
[Allen reads the poem in its entirety] - (It was at a drinking party of his friends)

Hasbrouck and the Rose

Hasbrouck was there and so were Bill
And Smollet Smith the poet, and Ames was there.
After his thirteenth drink, the burning Smith,
Raising his fourteenth trembling in the air,
Said, ‘Drink with me, Bill, drink up to the Rose.’
But Hasbrouck laughed like old men in a myth,
Inquiring, ‘Smollet, are you drunk? What rose?’
And Smollet said, ‘I drunk? It may be so;
Which comes from brooding on the flower, the flower
I mean toward which mad hour by hour
I travel brokenly; and I shall know,
With Hermes and the alchemists—but, hell,
What use is it talking that way to you?
Hard-boiled, unbroken egg, what can you care
For the enfolded passion of the Rose?’
Then Hasbrouck’s voice rang like an icy bell:
‘Arcane romantic flower, meaning what?
Do you know what it meant? Do I?
We do not know.
Unfolding pungent Rose, the glowing bath
Of ecstasy and clear forgetfulness;
Closing and secret bud one might achieve
By long debauchery—
Except that I have eaten it, and so
There is no call for further lunacy.
In Springfield, Massachusetts, I devoured
The mystic

[Allen is momentarily distracted]
Agh! – it’s hard to read if you guys come in late!
It’s hard to  put on an act, you know, get on stage [Peter Orlovsky arrives with a chair]
Okay. So..  “Long debauchery" might do it, "Except that I have eaten it, and so/ There is no call for further lunacy..."

Now he gets to the point. This is where the poem gets really great 

In Springfield, Massachusetts, I devoured 
The mystic, the improbable, the Rose.
For two nights and a day, rose and rosette
And petal after petal and the heart,
I had my banquet by the beams
Of four electric stars which shone
Weakly into my room, for there,
Drowning their light and gleaming at my side,
Was the incarnate star
Whose body bore the stigma of the Rose.
And that is all I know about the flower;
I have eaten it—it has disappeared.
There is no Rose.’

Young Smollet Smith let fall his glass; he said,
‘O Jesus, Hasbrouck, am I drunk or dead?’

Like a real good drunken poem . Phelps Putnam. There’s a whole series of poems about Hasbrouck and his friends, (Hasbrouck speaking, Bill & Smollet, Smollet, the poet, local characters, New England,) 1931, first published.
So, actually, it’s a little chapter of twentieth-century American poetry that might amuse you, see what happened to..
Probably, you know, in a hundred years. it'll be real  famous like, you know, the guy who wrote "Bishop, Lawless.." like some. you know…  go down in an anthology, and will be resurrected.  And his name is Phelps Putnam, and this book is in the library

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at the start of the tape (approximately one-and-a-half minutes in) and concluding approximately seven minutes in]

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