Tag: lawrence ferlinghetti

Allen Ginsberg, “Returning to the Country for a Brief Visit”


Annotations to Amitendranath Tagore’s Sung Poetry

“In later days, remembering this I shall certainly go mad.”

Reading Sung poems, I think of my poems to Neal
dead a few years now, Jack underground
invisible – their faces rise in my mind.
Did I write truthfully of them? In later times
I saw them little, not much difference they’re dead.
The live in books and memory, strong as on earth.

“I do not know who is hoarding all this rare work.”

Old One the dog stretches stiff legged,
soon he’ll be underground. Spring’s first fat bee
buzzes yellow over the new grass and dead leaves.

What’s this little brown insect walking zigzag
across the sunny white page of Su Tung-p’o’s poem?
Fly away, tiny mite, even your life is tender –
I lift the book and blow you into the dazzling void.

“You live apart on rivers and seas…”

You live in apartments by rivers and seas
Spring comes, waters flow murky the salt wave’s covered with oily dung
Sun rises, smokestacks cover the roofs with black mist
winds blow, city skies are clear blue all afternoon
but at night the full moon hesitates behind brick.
How will all these millions of people worship the Great Mother?
When all these millions of people die, will they recognize the Great Father?

Cherry Valley, April 20, 1973

~ ~ ~

This is absolutely one of my favorite Ginsberg poems. People tend to focus on his work of the 40s and 50s as his most vital, and it’s easy to forget that when Jack and Neal died – when many people thought beat itself was dead – men like Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti (and so many more) carried on with the Zen beat message and poetry for generations. Ginsberg is gone now too, a tiny mite blown into the void, but even today Snyder and Ferlinghetti and others are as vital today as they ever were, perhaps more so. It would be a sad mistake for poetry and beat fans to focus only on the Six Gallery days and forget the beautiful lifetimes that followed.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, #4 from “A Coney Island of the Mind”


In a surrealist year
                            of sandwichmen and sunbathers
                                dead sunflowers and live telephones
        house-broken politicos with party whips
        performed as usual
        in the rings of their sawdust circuses
        where tumblers and human cannonballs
                                          filled the air like cries
                        when some cool clown
                                          pressed an inedible mushroom button
and an inaudible Sunday bomb
                                          fell down
catching the president at his prayers
                                                    on the 19th green

      O it was a spring
                            of fur leaves and cobalt flowers
   when cadillacs fell thru the trees like rain
            drowning the meadows with madness
while out of every imitation cloud
                                 dropped myriad wingless crowds
                                               of nutless nagasaki survivors
        And lost teacups
        full of our ashes
        floated by

~ ~ ~

In a surrealist year, indeed. From the Beat classic A Coney Island of the Mind, a bizarre and beautiful set of poems.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “Baseball Canto”


Doubleheader (har har) of Ferlinghetti this week. This one goes out to K.A. and the beginning of baseball season!

Watching baseball
sitting in the sun
eating popcorn
Rereading Ezra Pound

and wishing Juan Marichal
would hit a hole right through
the Anglo-Saxon tradition
in the First Canto
and demolish the barbarian invaders

When the San Francisco Giants take the field
and everybody stands up to the National Anthem
with some Irish tenor’s voice
piped over the loudspeakers
with all the players stuck dead in their places
and the white umpires like Irish cops
in their black suits and little black caps
presses over their hearts
standing straight and still
like some funeral of a blarney bartender
and all facing East
as if expecting some Great White Hope
or the Founding Fathers
to appear on the horizon
like 1066 or 1776 or all that

But Willie Mays appears instead
in the bottom of the first
and a roar goes up
as he clouts the first one into the sun
and takes off
like a footrunner from Thebes
The ball is lost in the sun
and maidens wail after him
but he keeps running
through the Anglo-Saxon epic
And Tito Fuentes comes up
Looking like a bullfighter
in his tight pants and small pointed shoes

And the rightfield bleachers go mad
With chicanos & blacks & Brooklyn beerdrinkers
“Sweet Tito! Sock it to heem, Sweet Tito!”
And Sweet Tito puts his foot in the bucket
and smacks one that doesn’t come back at all
and flees around the bases
like he’s escaping from the United fruit Company
as the Gringo dollar beats out the Pound
and Sweet Tito beats it out
like he’s beating out usury
not to mention fascism and anti-semitism
And Juan Marchial comes up
and the chicano bleachers go loco again
as Juan belts the first fast ball
out of sight
and rounds first and keeps going
and rounds second and rounds third
and keeps going
and hits pay-dirt
to the roars of the grungy populace
As some nut presses the backstage panic button
for the tape-recorded National anthem again
to save the situation
but he don’t stop nobody this time
in their revolution round the loaded white bases
in this last of the great Anglo-Saxon epics
in the Territorio Libre of baseball

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “4 (from ‘Pictures of the Gone World’)”


     In Paris in a loud dark winter

                                 when the sun was something in Provence

when I came upon the poetry

                                 of Rene Char

     I saw Vaucluse again

                                  in a summer of sauterelles

   its fountains full of petals

                                 and its river thrown down

  through all the burnt places

                                 of that almond world

  and the fields full of silence

                                 though the crickets sang

              with their legs

                                 And in the poet’s plangent dream I saw

no Lorelei upon the Rhone

                               nor angels debarked at Marseilles

but couples going nude into the sad water

                                 in the profound lasciviousness of spring

   in an algebra of lyricism

                                 which I am still deciphering

It’s Mr. Ferlinghetti’s birthday today, one of the men, along with Gary Snyder, with the distinction of being both one of the first and one of the last (remaining) of the original Beats. He ran, and still runs, City Lights Books in Chinatown San Francisco – perhaps one of the only bookstores in the country to devote a whole floor to poetry and the Beats. When I visited City Lights a little over a year ago, I had the incredible fortune to run into Ferlinghetti as he was sticking a couple books onto shelves in the poetry room. I didn’t know what to say so I didn’t say anything, but I smiled and simply enjoyed the moment. Measured by time it was hardly anything, but it was, by the poetic definition of the word, a “moment” for me. I’m not usually one to think about souls and auras, but there was something special in that room right then. Anyway, this is part of the long poem cycle Pictures of the Gone World. This one I like to read in the spring. I’ve done my best to preserve the poem’s spacing “on the page.”