The Allen Ginsberg Project: Expansive Poetics – 6 (Ode To The West Wind)

Shelley, Ginsberg, language, and poetry fans need to read this. Ginsberg’s observations on Shelley give me goosebumps. This is great. This blog in general is also very good!

My favourite part of Ginsberg’s Shelleyan observations:

Ginsberg addressing students: “So, “Ode to the West Wind”. And the end is interesting, because finally the subject of the poem is the immortality of the cadence, that is that the rhythm itself will go on and on throughout history – that once he’s created this rhythm it’s going to be heard forever, people are going to recognize it. Once they hear it, it’s going to go on because it’s such a great powerful rhythm it’s going to turn people on so much. And that, in this way, his very breath, the cadences of his breath, or the sequences of his breathing, is going to become historically immortal. So Shelley’s own body, (or) a piece of Shelley’s body, is going out into the world to persist in other people’s bodies. So he created a machine which, when introduced into our bodies, will recreate itself over and over again. And that means that particular emotion he’s feeling, the breath or the emotion, the cadence of the breath of the emotion will then be felt by other people. So he’s really projected a piece of his body out permanently. Louis Zukofsky has a phrase, “Only objectified emotion endures”. That is to say, you have an emotion, then you make an object out of it like this cadent breath, and then it will endure. If you don’t solidify it or objectify it into an artifact that can be used by other people, the the emotion won’t persist and endure. But if you are able to transform your emotion into a set of breathings and a set of sounds and vowels and consonants and maybe some ideas, you create an object that will endure…”

The Allen Ginsberg Project: Expansive Poetics – 6 (Ode To The West Wind).


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