Sunday, 12 August 2007

'On 28 July [1967] Allen [Ginsberg] drove to Wales with publisher Tom Maschler to spend the weekend at his country cottage in the Llanthony Valley in the Black Mountains. They stopped en route at the magnificent ruins of Tintern Abbey, the inspiration for Wordsworth's ode. That afternoon, feeling relaxed in the tranquil setting, Allen took an acid trip. While on LSD he wrote 'Wales Visitation', a nature poem ...' (Barry Miles, Ginsberg: a biography. Rev. ed. London: Virgin, 2000, pp. 393-94).
The ode (dated actually '1967 July 29 Saturday') was published in 1968, in a not-for-sale edition as 'an offering for a peaceful summer from Allen Ginsberg and Cape Goliard'. It is a small landscape-format pamphlet (12.5 x 17 cm.) with title page and colophon printed in blue, sewn with white cord, with a dust-jacket of handmade brown (Japanese?) paper with 'bits' embedded in it, and title and publisher device printed in red. Today I saw it on dealer Bob Date's stall at the PBFA book fair at the Holiday Inn, Coram Street, London. I'm not all that keen on Ginsberg but this is a nice poem, full of real Romantic rhapsody, undoubtedly but subtly responding to Wordsworth as well as alluding to Blake (possibly even Dylan Thomas ('the force that through the green fuse drives the flower' ...?), and the text beautifully printed and designed to the width of the longest lines (eleven lines per page). It was £35, expensive, especially in the context of a fair full of knock-down bargains, but in the end I had to have it.
On Friday 27 July 2007, I drove to Wales with poet Hugh Epstein to spend the weekend with a group of other poets (old friends) at Leona Medlin's home in Cardiff Bay. We considered diverting up into the Black Mountains, where I spent childhood holidays (in the Olchon valley, the one east of Llanthony, but the other side of Offa's Dyke, i.e. in England), but stopped instead more sensibly at Tintern Abbey, and walked the wooded hill above the steep Wye valley there.

1 comment:

e said...

Never look on Abe after buying a book -- only leads to discontent. One could pay both less and more for this, but its interesting publication history includes editions with Tom Maschler's photographs of the trip. (I mean the journey ...) Sigh. The thing is, some books you seek, and others find you.