Monday, February 29, 2016

More Skelton - ("Phyllp Sparowe")

AG: So - has anybody got any..? What other..  Some more..some more (John) Skelton
Anne Waldman: There's a wonderful.. Do you know "Phyllp Sparowe"?
AG: What part of it is good?
Anne Waldman: The part with the list of the birds, which you could probably...
AG: Could you read it? Do you know it well enough to read it?
Anne Waldman: Well, I don't know if I could do it,  maybe..
AG: Does anybody knows Skelton well enough to read aloud? 
Anne Waldman: I can read this part.. This is a poem about a dead bird, and there's a mass and all the other birds come... 

[Anne begins reading, with occasional corrections from Allen - " soft warbelynge" (Allen  corrects to "softly warbelynge")  ("The dotterel, that folyshe foolish pek")    (partyche) ("whystell")  -  (chowgh) - ("To weep with me like that ye come,/All manner of byrdes in your kind/Se none be left behind"…"The mauys with her whystell…"

Anne Waldman (following correction) : Maybe you should read it, Allen 
AG: Yeah, no, I just follow along. I never read it before, it's very pretty.
Anne Waldman  (resumes reading ) : "...Shal rede there the pystell/ But with a large and a longe/To kepe iust playne songe" "May there abyde/Of cokoldry syde/Or els phylosophy/Maketh a great lye"   -  Very beautiful!

AG: Pretty, isn't it - I'd never read that. I have that here in the Auden anthology too.
Student: Who's the author of that?
AG: That's Skelton. All Skeleton. These are all Skeltonics.
Anne Waldman: To Phyllp Sparowe
AG: It's a long poem called "Phyllp Sparowe" by Skelton
Peter Orlovsky: What is "cokoldry"? cokoldry? - cookery or colkery? - what is that? - The last line? - "cokoldry maketh no lie"?
AG: "Or els phylosophy/Maketh a great lye"
Anne Waldman: "Or els phylosophy/Maketh a great lye"
AG:  Or else Philosophy maketh a great Lee - Philosophy Maketh A Great Lie 

Student: The title again?
AG: The title. It's a long poem. The one I have.. the version I have here called "Phyllp Sparowe" takes up about.. god, about from page three-seventy-one to four-thirteen in this anthology, done in that rhyme, a really great thing, done in that rhyme. I've never read that through, actually but...
Anne Waldman: Killed by a cat.. The sparrow's been killed by a cat
AG: Uh-huh
Anne Waldman: An elegy about a sparrow. It belonged to.. I've forgotten the name of the woman it belongs to…
AG: The next long poem of Skelton's he has in here is called "Speke, Parrot!" ..Skelton. Very birdy. Lots of birds in Skelton. Bird-chirpings.. 

from "Phyllp Sparowe"

To wepe with me loke that ye come,
All manner of byrdes in your kynd ;
Se none be left behynde.
To mornynge loke that ye fall
With dolorous songes funerall,
Some to synge, and some to say,
Some to wepe, and some to pray,
Euery byrde in his laye.
The goldfynche, the wagtayle ;
The ianglynge iay to rayle,
The fleckyd pye to chatter
Of this dolorous mater ;
And robyn redbrest,
He shall be the preest
The requiem masse to synge,
Softly warbelynge,
With helpe of the red sparow,
And the chattrynge swallow,
This herse for to halow ;
The larke with his longe to ;
The spynke, and the martynet also ;
The shouelar with his brode bek ;
The doterell, that folyshe pek,
And also the mad coote,
With a balde face to toote ;
The feldefare, and the snyte ;
The crowe, and the kyte ;
The rauyn, called Rolfe,
His playne songe to solfe ;
The partryche, the quayle ;
The plouer with vs to wayle ;
The woodhacke, that syngeth chur
Horsly, as he had the mur ;
The lusty chauntyng nyghtyngale ;
The popyngay to tell her tale,
That toteth oft in a glasse,
Shal rede the Gospell at masse ;
The mauys with her whystell
Shal rede there the pystell.
But with a large and a longe
To kepe iust playne songe,
Our chaunters shalbe the cuckoue,
The culuer, the stockedowue,
With puwyt the lapwyng,
The versycles shall syng.
The bitter with his bump
The crane with his trumpe,
The swan of Menander,
The gose and the gander,
The ducke and the drake,
Shall watch at this wake;
The peacock so prowde,
Bycause his voyce is lowde,
And hath a glorious tayle,
He shall syng the grayle;
The owle, that is so foul,
Must helpe va to houle;
The heron so gaunce,
And the cormoraunce,
With the fessaunte,
And the gaglynge gaunter
And the churlish chowgh;
The route and the kowgh
The barnacle, the bussarde,
With the wilde mallard;
The dyuendop to slepe;
The water hen to weep;
The puffin and the tele
Money they shall dele
To poore folke at large,
That shall bw theyr charge;
The semewe and the titmouse;
The wodcocke with the longe nose;
The therestyl with her warblyng;
The starlyng with her brablyng;
The roke,  with the osprey
That putteth fysshes to a fraye;
And the denty curlewe 
With the turtyll most trew
  At this Placebo
We may not well forgo
The countrynge of the coe:
The storke also,
That maketh his nest
In chymneyes to rest
Within those walles
No broken galles
May there abyde
Of cokoldry syde
Or els phyylosophy
Maketh a great lye."

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately sixty-seven minutes  in and concluding at approximately seventy-two-and-a-quarter minutes in ]

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Allen Ginsberg 1969 University of Arizona Reading

Allen Ginsberg Reading At the Poetry Center at the University of Arizona, Spring Reading Series, April 30, 1969

A real archival treasure this weekend. From the University of Arizona Poetry Center's voluminous archives. Not the greatest of audio quality, but worthy enough. This 1969 reading features, among other things, an important and sizeable rendition of a selection (chosen by Allen) of "Kaddish"

The entire reading has been segmented (allowing for more clearer identification, but, perhaps, obstructing, a little, the flow). It also seems to be partial (since the last segment, following "Sather Gate Illumination" appears to be an introduction to a missing sequence of unpublished work - "From now on, everything that I'll be reading is unpublished work from about 1961 on....I haven't revised it entirely properly, I haven't preserved it, presented it, collected it, decided what it is, so I will be discovering what this is and there may be false notes here and there, (for) which you'll have to forgive me." 

There is no introduction. The recording begins with a recording of Allen reading Sunflower Sutra  - "Here I began to attempt to combine the early newspaper-ese journalistic preoccupation with facts and William Carlos Williams, with (Jack) Kerouac's idea of fast emotive writing, with my own Hebrew soul - ("I walked on the banks of the tincan banana dock and sat down under the huge shade of a Southern Pacific locomotive…")

"In The Baggage Room of The Greyhound" - "I was writing about .. in more mystical vocabulary something about sunflowers. At that point I ran into Ron Loewinsohn, who was a younger poet, who had..  I had talked to before and was trying to explain Williams' conception, (or what I thought was Williams' conception), of Imagism, to him. So he had  come back from a hitch-hiking trip and written a poem about a diner in Oklahoma (or a waitress in a diner in Oklahoma) which was so natural that I realized that I was not actually writing about my immediate surroundings.  At the time I was working in the baggage room at the Greyhound, so I tried to compose out of the elements there, but going back, in a sense, to (the) 1930's proletarian, to Williams' Paterson-esque detail, (and) simply to look around where I was (in a circumstance that was, at that time, in my mind, not particularly poetic). And then I realized (that) it was poetic and I hadn't realized it really to write about - ("In the depths of the Greyhound Terminal/sitting dumbly on a baggage truck looking at the sky….."…"Farewell ye Greyhound where I suffered so much,/hurt my knee and scraped my hand and built/my pectral muscles nig as a vagina")

"A Strange New Cottage in Berkeley"  ("All afternoon.."  in "a strange new cottage in Berkeley…") -  [Allen pauses] -  No I'll read two..since they're both written on the same day part of the same poem - [begins first with "A Strange New Cottage..", following it with "Psalm III"  ("All afternoon cutting bramble blackberries of a tottering brown fence.."… " angel thoughtful of my stomach and my dry and lovelorn tongue') 

"Psalm III" - The other I wrote was Psalm II, the other I read was Psalm II . This (next is) maybe eight years later -  Psalm III - ("To God" - I was using that then  -"To illuminate all men,. Beginning with Skid Road..." - "I feed on your Name like a cockroach on a crumb but this cockroach is holy")

"Tears" - (I think) this about as low as I got  -  ("I'm crying all the time now."…. "..God appearing to be seen and cried over. Overflowing heart of Paterson")

"Back on Times Square, Dreaming of Times Square" - ("Let some sad trumpeter stand/on the empty streets at dawn/and blow a silver chorus.."…"We are a legend, invisible but/ legendary as prophesied")

"My Sad Self"  - "A poem called "My Sad Self" (1958)  ("Sometimes when my eyes are red I go up on top of the RCA building.."  "all Manahattan that I've seen must disappear")

"To An Old Poet in Peru" - I mention the names of various cities which are pre-Inca, pre-Inca, pre-Inca-ic (cultures of coastal desert Peru), where there are many relics which are found by grave-robbers who open the sands in the desert (and the) necropolises and  take out the pots and - Cahuachi, Pachacamac, Nazca - they're all clustered around Lima, Peru  - I (saw) an old poet named Martin Adan, who was a, like, a little reprobate poet, not exactly a Maxwell Bodenheim, he was a very great connoisseur actually, now an old lush, who didn't hang around with the literary crowd but who made it in a bar next door to the Presidential Palace, which was just seized two months ago by the Peruvian military.. ("Because we met at dusk/Under the shadow of the railroad station/clock.." …"Agh, I am tired of insisting! Goodbye,/I'm going to Pucallpa/to have Visions/Your clean sonnets??I want to read your dirtiest /secret scribblings/your Hope,/in His most Obscene Magnificence. My God!") 

[The highlight of this reading is, perhaps, Allen reading from "Kaddish". He begins at the beginning but then breaks off, only to resume with a section from later on in the poem]

- "Kaddish"-  ["About the same year as the last poem", he notes]  - "Strange now to think of you, gone without corsets and eyes, while I walk on the sunny pavement of Greenwich Village.…"... "looking back on the mind itself that saw an American city/a flash away, and the great dream of  Me or China... " - [He breaks off at this point - I don't want to read this either... I'm not making that... There's a portion I'd like to read tho'... (it's) a portion in the center that I'm interested in.. (from the center of the narrative section, towards the end of the narrative section)] - He continues - "Or thru Elanor or the Workman's Circle, where she worked addressing envelopes…" …through to " - Nor Elanor be gone,/ nor Max await his specter - nor Louis retire from this High-School - " 

The last poem Allen's heard reading is "Sather Gate Illumination"  - [This segment begins with a brief clip of an unidentified voice -  "Kenny welcome", "a friend of mine" "do you want to read this?") before Allen's voice resumes]   - "What I read in the last reading follows, one poem to another, in the development and illustrating the development of a peculiar, personal kind of awareness or consciousness that was growing on me but that I think is more or less common to all. At one point in 1956, I did some scribbling, writing, and read a poem in San Francisco which, after I had given a reading there, Robert Duncan had signed to me that he thought it was the right way, so now I will read that  - "Sather Gate Illumination"  ("Why do I deny manna to another?/Because I deny it to myself.."…"Seeing in people the visible evidence of inner self /thought by their treatment of me: who loves himself loves me/ who love myself")

"Then I went through a period of difficulty, and didn't love myself and my poetry went back up to my mind to some extent and I began working on.. to get out of that I began working on association, trying to search around my mind, find where was the…how I could get out of that box. So these are,  this is..notes. From now on, everything that I'll be reading is unpublished work from about 1961 on. I wish also to say. I have not published anything because, before I came here or totally saw, I had no idea whether this was..what it was I was writing, and I was very depressed. In fact, said that. I didn't know who I was or what I was and this scratching around. Some evidence comes through now to me.I begin to discover what I was doing. And this is the first time I've been able.. I've read this..aloud.. so I have.. I must apologize for the fact that I haven't revised it entirely properly, I haven't preserved it, presented it, collected it, decided what it is, so I will be discovering what this is and there may be false notes here and there (for) which you'll have to forgive me." 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday's Weekly Round-Up - 257

[Cadets read "Howl", February 19, 1991, Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, Virginia. Photo Copyright © Gordon Ball, 2006.]

Gordon Ball's iconic photograph of cadets at Virginia Military Institute reading copies of Howl  has, of course, a back-story. Occasioned by Iain Sinclair's review-article, "Retro-Selfies" in a recent London Review of Books and Alan Baragona's letters-to-the-editor reply, John May in The Generalist tracks the tale. Quoting Baragona ('the guy who.. arranged for Ginsberg to visit the Academy"), he writes: 

"Iain Sinclair is within his rights to scorn the co-opting of Beat Generation rebelliousness as a way to defang it but he is mistaken in using Allen Ginsberg's visit to the Virginia Military Institute in 1991 and my friend Gordon Ball's well-known photograph of cadets reading Howl to make his point…It's true that some cadets, administrators, alumni, and faculty were unhappy about it, though not because of Ginsberg's homosexuality or drug use so much as for his pacifism during the first Gulf War. But there were also many people in all those categories who were excited by the visit, and the administration supported us, even requiring the entire corps to attend (his) poetry reading. Ginsberg was aware of this and at the intermission told the cadets that as far as he was concerned they had fulfilled their obligation and were free to leave. Roughly two-thirds of the corps stayed for the second half. Afterwards, cadets crowded around Ginsberg to speak with him and later lined up at the bookstore to get their copies of Howl autographed…. What you see in Gordon's photo is not frowning, but concentration, weariness, and some confusion as Ginsberg walked students through this challenging poem. This is a class of freshmen, few, if any, are English majors. How do you expect them to look?"

Baragoma notes that Allen stayed for a whole week, recited "Howl" publicly for the first time in ten years, and, aside from the public reading, conducted a workshop, for any  students who might be interested, in transcendental meditation. 
Far from staged, or a study in contempt, Ball's photo registers a very touching and very thoughtful and sincere moment in "meeting of the minds"

Hilary Holladay (Herbert Huncke's biographer) interviews maverick journalist and all-around Beat-o-phile Jan Herman this month in International Times.

HH: How would you sum up the significance of the Beats as writers rather than personalities?

JH: Kerouac has had a huge influence on readers worldwide. I'm sure more people have read On The Road than ever read "Howl". But Ginsberg may be more significant a writer than Kerouac in terms of literary impact because of what I believe is the long-lasting influence of "Howl" on poets and poetry itself. I don't think On The Road has had an equivalent influence on novelists, notwithstanding its popularity"
For more of the interview - see here

From the new collection, Wait Till I'm Dead - UnCollected Poems, the LA Times features the poem, "Spring night, at four a.m.", a poem from May 1976 ("Spring night four a.m./Garbage lurks by the glass windows/Two guys light a match…") 

- and Craig Morgan Teicher, reviewing the book - "One doesn't read this book because these poems in particular are important, but because it's Ginsberg, whose importance is unquestionable. Among his many roles in 20th century culture - '60's protest jokester [sic], Zen ambassador, literary lion - he was also, for many, the gateway poet." "These", Teicher goes on, "are not unlike other Ginsberg poems - fierce, funny, libidinous, subversive - but here they afford a fresh chronological tour of Ginsberg's life, which is also one version of the story of the second half of the 20th century."

And - "Ginsberg made his own meaning of the present tense: His poems are set insistently in the now; their power isn't in particular lines so much as the whole aesthetic, the continuous decision to return, again and again, to his own mind and perceptions, like a meditator to his breathing. He treats everything with an utterly absorbing present-tense vividness, which this book lets us view through grown-up eyes".

For a less "grown-up" review, a curmudgeon counterpoint, there's the predictably sour response from one Micah Mattix, "assistant professor of literature at Houston Baptist University", in the right-wing Washington Free Beacon -  Under the provocative headline, "Allen Ginsberg-Bore", he writes:

 " thing Ginsberg isn't is original, or to put it more accurately. he is original but almost always in the same way…his work as a whole is surprisingly predictable…(and) it's not just Ginsberg's syntax that is repetitive….Sometimes the metaphors make sense. Other times they are an end in themselves, and, freed of any obligation to be meaningful, they are the easiest things to create…The accumulated effect of all this…is not shock but a numbing boredom…Every writer has a limited bag of tricks….the problem with Ginsberg's tricks is that they don't work,, or not anymore, or, if they still do, only partially…There is a Ginsberg that is worth reading, but what he needs is a volume of poems about half the size of the current 480-page Selected Poems. In other words, a very selective selected poems and not more uncollected poetry…" 

Has not the reviewer heard of The Essential Ginsberg? (indeed, the now still-troubling reviewer-neglect for that particular book) - Here's some valuable notes if you're using that as a teaching tool. 

The upcoming planned Pompidou Center Beat exhibition in Paris continues to develop. Here's further word on it.

Billy Woodberry's Bob Kaufman movie, When I Die, I Won't Stay Dead, premiered in New York last week. Stephen Meisel in The Cornell Daily Sun addresses the marginalization of Kaufman.  Here's the cover of Kaufman's Pocket Poets City Lights volume (from 1967):

and Kaufman in French translation:

Huerga & Fierro next month in Spain, will publish the first ever (bilingual - English-Spanish) edition of Kaufman's poetry.

An account of last weekend's Wichita Vortex Sutra celebrations - here

Bert Stratton, looking back to college days too, recalls (fondly) "How Allen Ginsberg Messed Me Up" (in the Ann Arbor Observer)  

More book news (and great book news):

Just out (just reprinted by New York Review of Books), Bob Rosenthal (Allen's long-time secretary)'s "70's Cult Classic', Cleaning Up New York.  Richard Hell writes "I first read Cleaning Up New York when it was published in the 1970's and I've been recommending it to people  ever since. It's one of those great, rare works the style of which - immaculate, with unexpected descriptor glints, and funny,low-key frankness - perfectly embodies its subject, namely the revelation of soft shine in humble corners of New York. It's a miracle and you don't have to be clean to appreciate it. And Luc Sante writes, "Bob Rosenthal's Cleaning Up New York is a perfect little gem of a book. There is not one wasted or misplaced word in this chronicle, which manages to contain an awful lot of the world in its few pages. It's not only about the city and its range of denizens, but also about the art of living, the satisfaction of humble work, the way poetry arises from daily experience, and if that weren't enough, it also includes really useful advice about cleaning!"  

and, "keeping it in the family", Aliah Rosenthal (Bob's son and Allen's godson) has a book out - a book of poems - "Son of A…". For more information on that see here  

Thursday, February 25, 2016

John Skelton & Skeltonics continues

                                       ["With solace and gladness/Much mirth and no madness"]
AG: Well, (John) Skelton is really interesting.  (W.H.) Auden got on to Skelton also. In much of Auden's writing, there's a little Skeltonics. I've been using Skeltonics for rhymed poems that I write fast on the instant, usually a series of the same rhymes or rhymes repeated, for a series of love poems that I've been working on over the last couple of years and two samples are at the end of a book called Mind Breaths, the last book I wrote. There are two love poems which are quasi-Skeltonics, that is done fast, on the spot, more or less untouched, the whole point getting the idea across with fast rhyme rapping. Generally, two accents to the line, and the real interesting thing about Skeltonics is that the… you shift your accents around real funny so that you can stumble around trying to read it but when you do read it the right way it sounds just right - like "Mistress (Margaret)", like this. You know, it's a little awkward to get "With solace and gladness/Much mirth and no madness", but actually "With solace and gladness/Much mirth and no madness" (you say "much mirth"  - that's what you say - "much mirth" - No-one would ever say "much mirth" ("You've got much mirth"), you'd say, "She's got much mirth". So, "With solace and gladness/Much mirth and no madness" ("no" would also be accented slightly) but still "solace and gladness" and "mirth and madness". So the heavy accent in that line is basically a two accent line. That clear? or is all this confusing? Is anybody being confused by discussing these accents in detail? - or feel that it's out of.. out of.. off the wall to think about it?  The reason it's not off the wall to think about it's actually pretty simple. What's not simple or what's interesting or funny is that you see in these great classic poems how the basic rule is constantly broken in funny ways, and how funny these guys are in breaking the rule, because their ears are so human - "Much mirth and no madness" - "..solace and gladness/Much mirth and no madness" - so that it doesn't get too metronomic, so that it doesn't get too dumbly repetitive, but, instead you've got all the prettiness of , like, a good jazz musician making..  making little variations every time he has a mind for it. The variations forced on you by the fact that you've got something to say like "Much mirth.." "mirth and no madness" . It would be boring if it said - "Much mirth.." ""With solace and gladness/Much mirth and madness",  or something,  "With solace and gladness/With mirth and madness"? - "With solace and gladness/And mirth and no madness"? - It still wouldn't be any good - "With solace and gladness/And mirth and no madness" (that'd be interesting,, you see, doubling up on "And mirth and no madness", that little kink would be funny, but, when you get "With solace and gladness/Much mirth and no madness" - da da-da da da-da, dat-da-da de-da-da - then it gets to a funny little gallop, horse gallop, much more   da da-da, da da-da. Da da-da Da da-da, Da da-da-da, Da-da. Instead of the da-da-da-da-da da  da-da-da-da-da, Da-da da da-da, da da-da, da da-da. Are you following that? So anybody with any kind of  heart-beat.. heart-ear, heart-ear rhythm get that funny skipping in his… just as a matter of humor, in talk, just to keep it going, just to keep it alive. Also because the mind keeps intruding funny extra ideas that you've got to squeeze them in somehow. That's the real reason that.. Other ideas come up that have got to be squeezed in fast without breaking the gallop, without breaking the march ahead of the rhythm. So, instead of eliminating your thoughts as they rise when you're writing in rhyme, you include them in such a funny way that they can be..included (so that they can be included in this funny way that will syncopate the line). My own theory is that variation and syncopation in lines comes from having a rich brain, where lots of thoughts rise, and have to be squosen into the line
Student: Squosen?
AG: Squosen.  Squosen. Sure. Because you got to do it fast, that's why they're "squosen"! It's why they're not squeezed properly, they're never squeezed properly just squosen in! - Yeah?
Student: When you first started (working with short lines and then started rhyming, did you know then that you were working in Skeltonics - or did you find out that that was called that later?
AG: No. I'd known Skelton's poetry for a long time and I'd read enough of it to get it in my bloodstream, bones, or something, into my nervous system. In.. I think I thought of it while I was writing. But the rhythm itself is more basic than the name of the rhythm. So you hear a run-along on the rhythm and you say, "oh yeah, that's the Skelton, good ol' Skelton, he's back", or, "he did it" - or, you know, while writing, you remember it, you remember the name, while writing. I mean, you might be running and remember, "Oh, I'm running". You might be walking along the road fast and start going after the bus a little faster but not quite running. And as you're running, you may remember, "Oh this is called a trot, I'm trotting". In other words, you don't think of Skelton, think of the name and then apply it. You think of the rhythm and then you remember that's what it is. In other words, if you read this enough, aloud, say four or five times, you've got the rhythm. It's like a pill you take, again, that permenantly leaves an impression on the nervous system and that rises up again, so you hear it. I mean, just like any number of times in your life "Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells", some rhythm relating to "Jingle Bells" will arise  or "Jack and Jill went up the…" - da da da-da, da da da-da, da-da da-da da-da - "Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water" - that just comes. You might not even remember it was "Jack and Jill.." but you get that rhythm. So the Skeltonic rhythm is really useful if you want to do fast modern rapping writing .
Now for that kind of thing, for fast modern rhyming rapping Skeltonics, the temptation would be to do this funny, childish, television-commercial, ironic, whatever, dopey, stuff. The interesting thing is to take a serious subject and do it that way . That, in a way, was.. some of the poems in the imitations of "I Syng of A Mayden" that I got were tainted a little bit with that kind of a humor (which is basically sort of sophomoric) . I mean, in other words, the rhyme gives rise to satire and humor and goofiness, however, to have to keep a straight mind and use that mind to say something serious, is really interesting (because then it goes right through the heart). But if you're trying to say something really serious with that kind of doggerel bad rhymes.. So if you're doing these exercises, try not to make them funny. I mean, that's easy. You know,  in other words, you can make it funny by burlesquing the idea of rhyming and then just rhyme things silly anyway, but that.. sort of..the idea is…And also, try not to make them in archaic  "where're's" and ors, and inversions, using archaic inversions. The thing to do is modern American serious vernacular speech fitted to these rhymes, or hearing the rhythms of vernacular speech that fit these rhymes (because some of these poems I got were making fun of writing the poem, rather than, you know, forgetting about you writing a poem but, you know, just actually write about something real and use that form. That's one where it gets.. That's where you can go into the anthologies and look at... (you can be immortal if you do that!) - get serious - to get serious, you could be immortal! - you could do (be in) the Norton Anthology!)

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately fifty-eight minutes  in and concluding at approximately sixty-seven minutes in ]

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

John Skelton's "To Mistress Margaret Hussey"

AG: So how does this sound in Skelton -  ["To Mistress Margaret Hussey"] - "Merry  Margaret/  As Midsummer flower/Gentle as a falcon.." (well, that's (page) seventy-six, back to (page) seventy-six). This is his classic poem. This is like the warhorse that is in every anthology, "Merry Margaret.." - on page seventy-six - "To Mistress Margaret Hussey" - [Allen reads the poem in its entirety]

Merry Margaret,
          As midsummer flower,
      Gentle as a falcon
      Or hawk of the tower:
With solace and gladness,
Much mirth and no madness,
All good and no badness;
          So joyously,
          So maidenly,
          So womanly
          Her demeaning
          In every thing,
          Far, far passing
          That I can indite,
          Or suffice to write
Of Merry Margaret
      As midsummer flower,
Gentle as falcon
Or hawk of the tower.
      As patient and still
And as full of good will
As fair Isaphill,
Sweet pomander,
Good Cassander,
Steadfast of thought,
Well made, well wrought,
Far may be sought 
Ere that ye can find
So courteous, so kind
As Merry Margaret,
      This midsummer flower,
Gentle as falcon
Or hawk of the tower.

That's really pretty, that's like a really nice piece of music and rhymes and rhythmics. So I guess what it is, it's like doggerel, almost (you know doggerel?) . That is to say, doggeral is.. the bad poetr(y) ("Doggerel" is a word for bad poetry, which is  the kind that you just sort of make up all on the spot, over a bottle of beer, saying, like that, and "I'm gonna get you, or bet you",  or, if it's extended out to, like, bad poetry, like Robert Service (supposedly bad poetry), Robert Service, or Barrack-Room Ballads, where the rhymes are obvious, where it's more or less stereotyped, or where there's a funny kind of home-made effect  - the funny home-made effect here, now this is a little bit like doggerel, when it gets to "Far, far passing/That I can indite/Or suffice to write", I mean, just repeating himself there - "I can indite/Or suffice to write" - "indite" means "write down", anyway. So he's just saying "I can write or I can write" - "Or suffice to write" - "That I can indite/Or suffice to write" - (How do you pronounce "suffice"? - "surfice" or "suffice"? - Who knows? - Is it "surfice" or "suffice"? - Suffice.

AG So how many here have read Skelton ever before (raise your hand)?
Student:  Red Skelton !! 
AG: Well, I didn't say you.. many here had read Skelton? - Tell me - one-two-three.. raise your hands higher. I can't count them if you...
Student: I read him and forgot.
AG: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, say, out of…  so under half. Under half of this class has read Skelton. But Skelton is so great that they have a whole form of poetry named after him - Skeltonics. So he's obviously a big stepping-stone in English poetry. He must've invented it himself. I bet he got it out of vernacular, you know, rhyming, rhyming games, you know village rhyming games and people drunk at a tavern. I haven't read a great deal of his work so I really don't know much about him. Yeah?
Student: I just have a question. Line three and four, it says she's as "gentle as a falcon" or a hawk. Are falcons and hawks gentle?
AG: Well, we've got a footnote - "A hawk trained to fly…"
Student: Trained hawk, then.  
Anne Waldman: Also, there's a footnote in here that says a "gentle falcon" is a young falcon, is a kind of falcon.
AG: Uh-huh. A hawk of the tower is one, you know, who's obviously the pet hawk. Of course that's what the whole point is - Mistress Margaret is.. pretty far-out, but with her, she's gentle - with him, with him, she's…
Anne Waldman (reading) : "..of excellent breed or spirit, here also an epithet defining the species falcon-gentle, the female and young of the.. goshawk"?
Student: Goshawk 
AG: Goshawk.What's a goshawk? Anybody know?
Student: It's a kind of hawk
AG: A kind of falcon… baby falcon maybe?  small falcon...

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately fifty-three-and-three quarter minutes  in and concluding at approximately fifty-eight minutes in]

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Skelton - Masculine & Feminine Rhymes

Anne Waldman:  A couple of notes here, if you want, this is in the Collected Skelton
AG: Oh, great. Where did you get it?..
Anne Waldman: In England.
AG: Well, do you have anything specific?  Is there something that you particularly wanted to read?
Anne Waldman Well it just says, "Such vernacular.." - it talks about the vernacular energy of his vocabulary..
AG; Uh-huh
Anne Waldman (begins reading) - "..Such vernacular vigour releases itself in the verse form that bears his name - the "Skeltonic" or the "Skeltoniad",  readily identifiable by its mono-rhyme leashess that extend for twelve to fourteen lines at times and are eternally distinguished by two or three accents per line. The stresses are often underscored by alliteration, which in turn may link together two or three lines. The real elements of control in the Skeltonic, however, are the couplet and triplet, which provide both points of departure for, and pauses within,  the more spectacular itemization and documentation, mental excitement...
AG: Slow, slow..  So couplet..
Anne Waldman: Couplet and triplet.
AG: That's the key thing, I think, that was... What was that sentence?
Anne Waldman: "The real elements of control in the Skeltonic, however, are the couplet and triplet.."
AG: That is two lines rhymed or three lines rhymed together.
Anne Waldman: "..which provide both lines of departure for and pauses within the more spectacular itemization and documentation, mental excitement and verbal virtuosity of the rhyme leash.."  
AG: "Rhyme leash". By "rhyme leash", you mean a leash that (was the) same rhyme running for five, six, seven, eight lines ..
Anne Waldman: Or sometimes fourteen lines
AG: Yes, and then that's interrupted by a triplet or doublet or triplet - double-rhyme or triple-rhyme

Student: What is a doublet (or triplet)?
AG: I mean…"So joyously/ So maidenly/ So womanly/Her demeaning/ In every thing,/Far, far passing/ That I can indite/Or suffice to write" - Those are, you know, just two..two lines rhymed…two..  See, it runs on, sometimes, six short lines in a row with the same rhyme, but every once in a while, or more often, broken up into two lines in a row with a rhyme, or three lines in a row with a rhyme - Dig? - So I just said "doublet", I just made up "doublet" (doublet is a pair of pants!) 
Student: Six-lines-in-a-row rhymes, so why not a sextuplet, or a..
AG: Well, yeah
Student: Why a doublet?
AG:  I just said it right out of my mouth that minute, I didn' t mean it!  I was just trying to say there are.. the book there says, very interestingly, that one way you can (kind of) bring it back home, to control, one way you can bring it back home, is all of a sudden you just have two lines rhyming, or three lines rhyming, instead of a whole run of six.  So that, in other words, it's not this invariable monotonous same rhyme over and over and over, line, line, line, line, six times, seven times. All of a sudden you have "trip/trap "or "trip/skip" and "merry/cherry/berry", and then "moon/June/spoon/.. foon/ goon/ boon/oom /woom/ boom
Anne Waldman: "Pull My Daisy"
AG: "daisy/maisy" - then "daisy/maisy"
And also, apparently, I think, from my own ear, it varies from masculine rhymes, (which are single syllables, like "find/kind", right?) - does anybody know about masculine and feminine rhymes? - The masculine rhymes are a single syllable. Feminine rhymes are two.. double or triple syllable - triple?
Anne Waldman: Can be.
AG: Yeah - "Madness/Badness" - two syllables. That's considered what is called a feminine rhyme. See, the masculine is the hard . So, "right/light", "creep/sleep" - but
"indict/rewrite"..  well, that's not.. what else is there?
Student: "Flower/hour"
AG:  - "flower/hour"?, - "maidenly/womanly"? (that's a three syllable line,
"maidenly/womanly" - the words are all three syllable, but "-enly" is two syllables that rhyme - "..enly/..anly" - "maidenly/womanly") 
- "meaning/everything" - I guess the accent is on the first of the two syllables in the feminine rhyme - (When it's) one syllable (and) (then) the accent naturally (falls) on that one syllable - "Heart/smart" - "You're entered in my heart/That's why I got so smart". So the accent falls at the end of the line. In the feminine rhyme, apparently, the accent will fall not on the last syllable but the syllable before. So.. so.. or the... an earlier syllable in the word, like "joyously/maidenly", so it's actually "joy-ously/maid-enly". Is there any distinction between two syllables ending rhymes and three syllables ending in rhymes?  does anybody know?  Are there different words for those? Is anybody unclear that there's one-syllable rhymes, two-syllable rhymes, three syllable rhymes? Everybody knows about, not knows about, but everybody knows what we're talking about?

Student: I don't quite know
Peter Orlovsky [sitting in on the class]: I don't...
AG: Okay.. Peter doesn't…this..this..there is some dyslexia, occasionally, among geniuses, that can't follow one-and-one-is-two. So - "glad/bad", that's masculine and it's one syllable
Peter Orlovsky: How do you know it's masculine?
AG: It's called masculine. When it's just one syllable it's called masculine rhyme.
Peter Orlovsky:  Where's the one syllable?  So is one syllable?
AG: Glad
Peter Orlovsky:  Glad's one syllable.
AG: Mad  - "I am so glad/You are so mad" - "I think I am so glad/to find you are so mad" 
Peter Orlovsky: I get it, I got it...
AG: "I think I am so glad/to find you are so mad", or "I think I am quite glad/to find you are so mad/that if we had to sit/I sure would lose my wit". So "glad/mad","wit/sit", they're one syllable..
Peter Orlovsky: That's masculine?
AG:  ..and it's got one accent, and it is called "masculine" (it might be called "glump rhyme", or it might be called "hard rhyme", but it happens to be called masculine). And then "feminine" rhyme is one where there's more than one syllable - "Much mirth and no madness/All good and no badness" - "madness/badness" - "Much mirth and no madness/All good and no badness" - that's different, that's feminine form and it has two syllables, in that case, and the accent seems to fall on the first of the two syllables - "Much mirth and no madness/All good and no badness". Then there are three-syllable lines - "So joy-ous-ly/So mai-den-ly/ So wom-an-ly/Her demean-ing/ In every-thing"
Student: The rhyme there is only two syllables? 
AG: Huh?
Student (2) : The rhyme is only one syllable ("-ly" and "-ly") 
AG: No, well, "..endly/..anly" . (It is) "joyously/maidenly". I think they're.. (we're on page seventy-six of that…)
Student: (I wonder) if  all the syllables have to rhyme?
AG: They… At best they do . If they didn't all rhyme, then you would have feminine rhyme but the second syllable off-rhyme, first syllable off-rhyme (they have a thing called "off-rhymes" too - do you know "off-rhyme"? - it's only a slant rhyme or off-rhyme, they don't exactly rhyme, like, "In this room, I am a bard/I'll write on the black board"  - "I'll write it up on the blackboard" - "In this room, I am a bard/I'll write it up on the blackboard". So that's off-rhyme, feminine off-rhyme -  (no, "bard/board" would be another thing,  you can get them mixed)...well, anyway. Well, what does it say about feminine rhyme in the… you have a dictionary at the back (of your anthology)? - Okay, on page thirteen-ten, there's more of an explanation - "Where rhyming comes from nobody knows"..anyway.."In prosody, rhyme refers to a.. (this is page thirteen-ten) close correspondence of vowel and consonant.." - [Allen breaks off reading] -  I don't know what that is, it's (too hard to contemplate"- [resumes direct explanation]  "rude/brood", "be mute/dispute" "singing/springing" "relation/sensation". Now.. when lines end on the accented line, like "rude/brood" it's called masculine. Otherwise ("singing/springing"), feminine". Then there's a thing there called a rime riche, which is puns, where the two word that are spelt sound alike but are spelt different, but that's, sort of, not fair! (well, it doesn't sound so good, unless you want to be a little bit sly), so that's used for sly-ness or logopoeia (logopoeia , the dance of the intellect among words), when you have rime-riche or pun rhymes rather than a real difference between the two words
Student: Sometimes it's very hard for the eye too - the sight rhyme  
AG: Er.. I don't know. What is a sight-rhyme. What do you mean?
Student:  Like the words are close but they don't rhyme
AG: They're not pronounced the same? They're not pronounced.. like..can you give me a instance
Student :   Like "rime" and riche"? -  the "r" and "i".?  (I don't know. I thought of sight rhyme, and I thought that was...)
AG: I'm not sure. I forgot. I've heard of it. Rime riche - that would be actually, a. kind of...what's the word for that when the first syllable, where the beginning of the word rhymes rather than the end?
Student: I don't know.
AG: Okay, well there is one. They're interesting, where you'd have the beginning of the word rhyme rather than the end of the word. I/we'll check it out. It'll rise, it'll come up sooner or later in the course of these things. Anyway, I just wanted to point out the difference between masculine and feminine rhymes. 

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately forty-three minutes in and concluding at approximately fifty-three-and-three-quarter minutes in]