Readings: Weeks 8-10
Social Conscience & Meaning
— “Alas, Poor Yorick!“ & “Take Physic, Pomp“ (“Yorick” & “Pomp,” Shakespeare - R) — "Ozymandias 1" & "Ozymandias 2" (Horace Smith & Shelley - R) — "The Shield of Achilles" ("Shield," W.H. Auden - R - also see the worksheet Achilles) ❧ — ♫ LL "Saint Pablo" (Kanye West) — ♫ LL "Long Road Out of Eden" ("Eden," The Eagles)
— WS Rough Passages — ♫ LL "Thousands Are Sailing" & “Fairy Tales of New York” ("Thousands," The Pogues) ❧ — "Caliban" (Edward Brathwaite - R) — "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" (“Rivers” - R) & "Harlem" (Langston Hughes - R) — YT LL "Mississippi Goddam" (Nina Simone) — ♫ LL "Strange Fruit" (lyric Abel Meeropol, song Billie Holiday)
— WS Hallelujah — WS Lemonade — YT "Katrina/Hallelujah" (includes "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen - R) — YT LL "Formation" (Beyoncé) ❧ — ♫ LL "I’ve Got Life" (Hill) — ♫ "El Puro No Hay Futuro" / "There’s No Future in Purity" ("Futuro," Jarabe de Palo - R)
Alas, Poor Yorick! (Shakespeare, from Hamlet 5.1).
[The scene is in a churchyard, next to a graveyard with unearthed skulls. Hamlet is with his best friend Horatio, and he is holding the skull of the court jester Yorick.]
Hamlet: Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen? Now get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come; make her laugh at that. Prithee, Horatio, tell me one thing.
Horatio: What's that, my lord?
Hamlet: Dost thou think Alexander looked o' this fashion i'the earth?
Horatio: E'en so.
Hamlet: And smelt so? pah! [Puts down the skull]
Horatio: E'en so, my lord.
Hamlet: To what base uses we may return, Horatio! Why may not imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander, till he find it stopping a bung-hole [beer keg hole]?
Horatio: 'Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.
Hamlet: No, faith, not a jot [bit]; but to follow him thither with modesty enough, and likelihood to lead it: as thus: Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander returneth into dust; the dust is earth; of earth we make loam; and why of that loam, whereto he was converted, might they not stop a beer-barrel? / Imperious Caesar, dead and turn'd to clay, / might stop a hole to keep the wind away: / O, that that earth, which kept the world in awe, / should patch a wall to expel the winter flaw!
“Take Physic, Pomp” (Shakespeare - from King Lear 3.4 and 4.6)
Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? O, I have ta'en
Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp;* * Take medicine, vain people
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
That thou mayst shake the superflux* to them * superfluity, excess
And show the heavens more just.
Lear: O, ho, are you there with me? No eyes in your head, nor no money in your purse? Your eyes are in a heavy case, your purse in a light. Yet you see how this world goes.
Gloucester:I see it feelingly.
Lear: What, art mad? A man may see how the world goes with no eyes. Look with thine ears. See how yond justice rails upon yond simple thief. Hark in thine ear. Change places and, handy-dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief? Thou hast seen a farmer's dog bark at a beggar?
Gloucester: Ay, sir.
Lear: And the creature run from the cur? There thou mightst behold the great image of authority: a dog's obeyed in office. Thou rascal beadle [church officer], hold thy bloody hand! Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thine own back. Thou hotly lusts to use her in that kind for which thou whip'st her. The usurer hangs the cozener [high-rate lender hangs the cheating middleman]. Through tattered clothes small vices do appear; robes and furred gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold, and the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks; Arm it in rags, a pygmy's straw does pierce it. None does offend, none- I say none! I'll able 'em [vouch for them]. Take that of me, my friend, who have the power to seal th' accuser's lips. Get thee glass eyes and, like a scurvy politician, seem to see the things thou dost not.
The photo above is of Ramses II, from the British Museum (Wikimedia Commons). The following is from "Ozymandias" (Wikipedia):
Younger Memnon statue of Ramesses II in the British Museum. Its imminent arrival in London may have inspired [Shelley's poem "Ozymandias"]. ... The banker and political writer Horace Smith spent the Christmas season of 1817–1818 with Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Shelley. At this time members of Shelley's literary circle would sometimes challenge each other to write competing sonnets on a common subject … Shelley and Smith chose a passage from the Greek Historian Diodorus Siculus, which described a massive Egyptian statue and quoted its inscription: "King of Kings Ozymandias am I. If any want to know how great I am and where I lie, let him outdo me in my work." In the poem Diodorus becomes "a traveller from an antique land" (Siculus, Diodorus, Bibliotheca Historica, 1.47.4). … In antiquity, Ozymandias (Ὀσυμανδύας) was a Greek name for the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II. Shelley began writing his poem in 1817, soon after the announcement of the British Museum's acquisition of a large fragment of a statue of Ramesses II from the thirteenth century BC, leading some scholars to believe that Shelley was inspired by this. The 7.25-ton fragment of the statue's head and torso had been removed in 1816 from the mortuary temple of Ramesses at Thebes by Italian adventurer Giovanni Battista Belzoni. It was expected to arrive in London in 1818, but did not arrive until 1821. ... Smith's poem was published in The Examiner a few weeks after Shelley's sonnet. Both poems explore the fate of history and the ravages of time: that all prominent figures and the empires that they build are impermanent and their legacies fated to decay into oblivion.
Ozymandias 1 (Horace Smith)
In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desert knows:—
"I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone,
"The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
"The wonders of my hand."— The City's gone,—
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.
We wonder,—and some Hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when thro' the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place
Ozymandias 2 (Shelly)
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage* lies, whose frown * face
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Caliban (from The Arrivants, 1973)
Ninety-five per cent of my people poor
ninety-five per cent of my people black
ninety-five per cent of my people dead
you have heard it all before O Leviticus O Jeremiah O Jean-Paul Sartre*
* Leviticus & Jeremiah: Old Testament books; Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet; Camus and Sartre (1905-1980) are the two most famous French existentialists.
and now I see that these modern palaces have grown
out of the soil, out of the bad habits of their crippled owners
the Chrysler stirs but does not produce cotton
the Jupiter purrs but does not produce bread
out of the living stone, out of the living bone
of coral, these dead
towers; out of the coney
islands of our mind-
less architects, this death
of sons, of songs, of sunshine;
out of this dearth of coo ru coos, home-
less pigeons, this perturbation that does not signal health.
In Havana that morning, as every morning,
the police toured the gambling houses
wearing their dark glasses
and collected tribute;
salute blackjack, salute backgammon, salute the one-armed bandit
Vieux Fort and Andros Island, the Isle of Pines;
the morals squadron fleeced the whores
Mary and Mary Magdalene;
newspapers spoke of Wall Street and the social set
who was with who, what medals did the Consulate’s
Assistant wear. The sky was cloudy, a strong breeze;
maximum temperature eighty-two degrees.
It was December second, nineteen fifty-six.
It was the first of August eighteen thirty-eight.
It was the twelfth October fourteen ninety-two.
How many bangs how many revolutions?
The Negro Speaks of Rivers (Langston Hughes, 1919)
I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.
I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
Harlem (Langston Hughes, 1951)
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)
There are many versions of the lyrics to this song. #1 is the original version, from Various Positions (1984). #2 is the version used by Jeff Buckley, which is used in the YT video about Hurricane Katrina.
I’ve got Life (verses from Nina Simone — from I’ve Got Life, by James Rado and Gerome Ragni, from Hair musical, 1967, re-arranged by Nina Simone in “Ain’t Got No / I Got Life,” from ‘Nuff Said, 1968)
Nina Simone 1: I ain't got no home, ain't got no shoes / Ain't got no money, ain't got no class / Ain't got no friends, ain't got no schooling / Ain't got no hurt, ain't got no job / Ain't got no money, no place to stay / Ain't got no — Lauryn Hill 1
NS 2: I've got life / I've got laughs / I've got headaches and toothaches and bad times too like you, you , you , you — LH 2
NS 3: Ain’t got no wine, no cigarettes, no gold, no country, no past / No schoolin’, no class, no nothing / Ain’t got no love / Ain’t got no — LH 3
NS 4: Ain’t got no earth, no border, no food, no home / I said I ain’t got no clothes, no yard / Aint got no [?] /And I aint got no love / Ain’t got no — LH 4
NS 5: But what have I got? What have I got? / Let me tell you what I got. / [..?] take away [?] / I got my hair on my head, my brains, my ears, my eyes, my nose, and my mouth, I got my smile / I got my tongue, my chin, my neck, my boobies, my arms, my soul, and my back, I got my sex / I got my arms, my head, my fingers, my legs, my feet, my toes, my liver, and my blood / I got life, I've got laughs, I've got headaches and toothaches and bad times too like you X2
En Lo Puro No Hay Futuro (Jarabe de Palo, 2003) - There's No Future in Purity (trans. RC)
En lo puro no hay futuro / la pureza está en la mezcla / en la mezcla de lo puro / que antes que puro fue mezcla ❧ In the pure there is no future / purity is in mixture / in the mix of the pure / which before purity was mixture
Mi tío era mi primo / de un amigo de mi abuelo / que era indio americano / que se había enamorado / de una tico patuá / que nació en una goleta / abarrotada de esclavos / que se Jamaica robaron ❧ My uncle was my cousin / from a friend of my grandfather / who was American Indian / who had fallen in love / with a tico patuá [Costa Rican creole] / who was born in a schooner / crammed with slaves / that they stole from Jamaica
La madre de mi tío / se casó con un gitano / que tocaba la guitarra / con seis dedos en la mano / y acompañaba a un payo / que cantaba bulerías / con un negro de Chicago / que decía ser su hermano ❧ The mother of my uncle / married a gypsy / who played guitar / with six fingers on his hand / accompanied by a farmer / who sang bulerías [flamenco] / with a Black from Chicago / who said he was his brother
Dicen que mi abuelo / era un rubio bananero / que a Cuba llegó de España / pa quedarse en La Habana / y que yendo pa Santiago / conoció a una mulata / mezcla de tabaco y caña / que en francés a él le hablaba ❧ They say that my grandfather / was a blond banana-seller / who came to Cuba from Spain / to stay in Havana / and passing by Santiago / met a mulatta / mix of tobacco and sugarcane / who spoke to him in French
Je voulais parler français / asi le decía mi abuelo / mulatta color café / le hablaba frances (?) / en la mezcla este lo puro / vous parlez français (ne ne ne ?) / mi abuelo le contestó / tacó tacó tacó (?) ❧ I wanted to speak French / that's what my grandfather said / coffee-coloured mulatto / he spoke to her in French (?) / in mixture is purity / you speak French (boy?) / my grandfather answered her / (?)