Allen Ginsberg sings Blake's 'The Garden of Love'
LISTEN TO THE SHOW
Hear the voice of the bard…
Which bard? Well, we’re not quite sure how bardic Charles Bernstein is, but he certainly loves the idea of poem as song; he jouned some by-now regular PoemTalkers (Rachel Blau DuPlessis and Jessica Lowenthal) and chanted for us that very line. We’ve worn the grooves on an old LP of Allen Ginsberg signing William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience and for the fourth PoemTalk chose Ginsberg’s countrified (crossover?) rendition of “The Garden of Love.” Does the snappy, twangy (and relatively tuneful) setting create an irony? Jessica thinks yes; Charles thinks no.
But perhaps the tune should be in conflict with the poem’s sense, and thus perhaps Ginsberg was not so much pushing a song of experience into a popular (and thus single-direction-tending) mode so much as making it still more Blakean.
The binary of innocence and experience, Rachel says, is broken by the way the song is sung. Blake wanted the binary to be broken; Ginsberg only breaks it further. And seems to be having fun along the way.
Listen for the happy out-take at the end. We had some fun ourselves, albeit somewhat atonally and quite arhythmically.