A Sonnet About Homework

 [cover of first edition of Shakespeare’s Sonnets (the Thomas Thorpe edition, 1609)]

Peter Orlovsky; What’s our work for Friday?

AG: Homework is to write a sonnet next – ABABCDCDEFEFGG – Shakesperean-type sonnet, simple Shakespearean easy sonnet. We’ve all done quatrains, now pentametric, basically pentametric quatrains, of course double-rhyme – ABABCDCDEFEFGG. And also read through all the Shakespeare Sonnets that you’ve got there , and if you can, get hold of all of the Shakespeare Sonnets and read them through like a novel

Student: Would you repeat that rhyme form again slowly?

AG: AB AB –  CD CD –  EF EF –  GG! – So, write a Sonnet and read through all the Shakespeare Sonnets and if you can get a volume of Shakespeare Sonnets read them through because it’s a great novel! – And the plot is, he falls in love with this kid and tells him to get married and have children and then the kid makes it with him and he gets real happy, and then the kid makes it with another poet and he gets real mad! – and the kid makes it with Shakespeare’s girlfriend who’s a dark lady, and then they get clap!- and they’re all entangled in each other’s clap, and then the kid puts him down and he curses the kid at the end, and then at the end he kisses it off with a couple of lines about Eros. So there’s a whole novel about going back and forth.

[class ends – ambient sound – overheard –  Student (to Allen): What was the poetry… I’ve never been to a poetry class before, but, if people read it, read it aloud and… AG: It’s much (more) powerful. You see, originally it was song, it was..Student: ..meant to be..AG: Originally, way way way back, Homer would chant it…because.. it was never written down until afterwards. Most of the world’s poetry wasn’t written down. I mean, since the invention of the printing press.. It gets a little more… ]

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately seventy-four-and-three-quarterminutes in and concluding at the end of the tape]

Homage to Kenneth Koch

If I were doing my Laundry I'd wash my dirty Iran
I'd throw in my United States, and pour on the Ivory Soap,
scrub up Africa, put all the birds and elephants back in
the jungle,
I'd wash the Amazon river and clean the oily Carib & Gulf of Mexico,
Rub that smog off the North Pole, wipe up all the pipelines in Alaska,
Rub a dub dub for Rocky Flats and Los Alamos, Flush that sparkly
Cesium out of Love Canal
Rinse down the Acid Rain over the Parthenon & Sphinx, Drain the Sludge
out of the Mediterranean basin & make it azure again,
Put some blueing back into the sky over the Rhine, bleach the little
Clouds so snow return white as snow,
Cleanse the Hudson Thames & Neckar, Drain the Suds out of Lake Erie
Then I'd throw big Asia in one giant Load & wash out the blood &
Agent Orange,
Dump the whole mess of Russia and China in the wringer, squeeze out
the tattletail Gray of U.S. Central American police state,
& put the planet in the drier & let it sit 20 minutes or an
Aeon till it came out clean


Allen Ginsberg

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