Monday, December 27, 2010

Eternity, William Blake



He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sunrise.

by William Blake, from The Complete Poetry
and Prose of William Blake, 1997

Monday, December 20, 2010

Footnote To Howl, Allan Ginsburg

Hello Poets,
Lawrence Ferlinghetti promised to publish Allan Ginsberg's poem Howl after it was read to a stunned audience on October 7, 1955 at the Six Gallery in San Francisco. Since Howl was too short to make a entire book, Ginsberg completed Part II and Footnote which follows below. 
In response to Ginsberg's reading, Michael McClure famously wrote: "Ginsberg read on to the end of the poem, which left us standing in wonder, or cheering and wondering, but knowing at the deepest level that a barrier had been broken, that a human voice and body had been hurled against the harsh wall of America..."

Footnote To Howl

Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!
     Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!
The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy!
     The nose is holy! The tongue and cock and hand
     and asshole holy!
Everything is holy! everybody's holy! everywhere is
     holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman's an
The bum's as holy as the seraphim! the madman is
     holy as you my soul are holy!
The typewriter is holy the poem is holy the voice is
     holy the hearers are holy the ecstasy is holy!
Holy Peter holy Allen holy Solomon holy Lucien holy
     Kerouac holy Huncke holy Burroughs holy Cas-
     sady holy the unknown buggered and suffering
     beggars holy the hideous human angels!
Holy my mother in the insane asylum! Holy the cocks
     of the grandfathers of Kansas!
Holy the groaning saxophone! Holy the bop
     apocalypse! Holy the jazzbands marijuana
     hipsters peace & junk & drums!
Holy the solitudes of skyscrapers and pavements! Holy
     the cafeterias filled with the millions! Holy the
     mysterious rivers of tears under the streets!
Holy the lone juggernaut! Holy the vast lamb of the
     middle class! Holy the crazy shepherds of rebell-
     ion! Who digs Los Angeles IS Los Angeles!
Holy New York Holy San Francisco Holy Peoria &
     Seattle Holy Paris Holy Tangiers Holy Moscow
     Holy Istanbul!
Holy time in eternity holy eternity in time holy the
     clocks in space holy the fourth dimension holy
     the fifth International holy the Angel in Moloch!
Holy the sea holy the desert holy the railroad holy the
     locomotive holy the visions holy the hallucina-
     tions holy the miracles holy the eyeball holy the
Holy forgiveness! mercy! charity! faith! Holy! Ours!
     bodies! suffering! magnanimity!
Holy the supernatural extra brilliant intelligent
     kindness of the soul!

by Allen Ginsberg, from Howl, 1956

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lighthouse, by Jane Hirshfield

Hello Poets,
Jane Hirshfield captures the slow dance of consciousness in image and metaphor, there and then gone. 
Take your time, read it several times over, commit it to memory. There is much depth and simple beauty here.


Its vision sweeps its one path
like an aged monk raking a garden,
his question long ago answered or moved on.
Far off, night-grazing horses,
breath scented with oatgrass and fennel,
step through it, disappear, step through it, disappear.

by Jane Hirshfield, from The Wisdom Anthology
of North American Buddhist Poetry
ed. Andrew Schelling, 2005

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Journey, by Mary Oliver, from Dream Work


The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice-
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do-
determined to save
the only life you could save.

by Mary Oliver, from Dream Work, 1994

So long as you haven't experienced
this: to die and so to grow,
you are only a troubled guest
on the dark earth.
   - Goethe