I had come to the house, in a cave of trees,
Facing a sheer sky.
Everything moved,—a bell hung ready to strike,
Sun and reflection wheeled by.
When the bare eyes were before me
And the hissing hair,
Held up at a window, seen through a door.
The stiff bald eyes, the serpents on the forehead
Formed in the air.
This is a dead scene forever now.
Nothing will ever stir.
The end will never brighten it more than this,
Nor the rain blur.
The water will always fall, and will not fall,
And the tipped bell make no sound.
The grass will always be growing for hay
Deep on the ground.
And I shall stand here like a shadow
Under the great balanced day,
My eyes on the yellow dust, that was lifting in the wind,
And does not drift away.
This poem is in the public domain.
This poem is in the public domain.
This collection of books showcases the masterpieces of American poetry that have influenced—or promise to influence—generations of poets. Take a look.
It's late and your heart skips watching
that young man fight. The Garden, the left
jab lashes like a frog's tongue catching
a fly. There you go again with an undeft
image to his arthropod conceit. You know he'll win,
an old victory. They hate him there, sore
that he joined your faith, a strapping boy, skin
hairless almost feminine. He'd kept you up before,
your father waking you at dawn to watch the thrilla,
the rumble, even the shamble in Nagasaki
fighting a wrestler, a prone Japanese gorilla,
bruising the elegant legs. What was he
telling you then in that unplanned nightshift?
that there's honor in defeat, that you'd get your chance?
The referee says "Alright boys," and you drift
to Ralph Ellison's blind nightmarish dance.
The doctor checks Jones's right eye, but the crowd
boos him. There'd been a scandal in slow mo.
No one wants a dead man shouting aloud
maricon! At the end of round five, he's slow
and you want to lead him back to his corner
though you know he'll win, a knock out,
probably, but he wastes two rounds looking for
a strong straight right as Banks flouts
a second wind. Then in a flash— you're about
to adjust the volume or put a dish away—
Cooper is a cyclop, blood oozing out
of his one open eye, swinging wildly
like a wounded spider. Lyle's coach protests.
Years later he'll do the rope-a-dope to declaim
on purgatory. And later yet, in an airport
he writes a dedication to you, signs his name,
on a leaflet, "Life After Death." Tonight again
your beloved brother squeaks by, a TKO.
His victory's slower, but that's where he'll remain,
a light in your heart that never ceased to glow.
Now when I walk around at lunchtime I have only two charms in my pocket an old Roman coin Mike Kanemitsu gave me and a bolt-head that broke off a packing case when I was in Madrid the others never brought me too much luck though they did help keep me in New York against coercion but now I'm happy for a time and interested I walk through the luminous humidity passing the House of Seagram with its wet and its loungers and the construction to the left that closed the sidewalk if I ever get to be a construction worker I'd like to have a silver hat please and get to Moriarty's where I wait for LeRoi and hear who wants to be a mover and shaker the last five years my batting average is .016 that's that, and LeRoi comes in and tells me Miles Davis was clubbed 12 times last night outside BIRDLAND by a cop a lady asks us for a nickel for a terrible disease but we don't give her one we don't like terrible diseases, then we go eat some fish and some ale it's cool but crowded we don't like Lionel Trilling we decide, we like Don Allen we don't like Henry James so much we like Herman Melville we don't want to be in the poets' walk in San Francisco even we just want to be rich and walk on girders in our silver hats I wonder if one person out of the 8,000,000 is thinking of me as I shake hands with LeRoi and buy a strap for my wristwatch and go back to work happy at the thought possibly so
To celebrate the life and poetic contributions of Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) we’ve compiled the following collection of photographs, essays, an exclusive video, and poems, including an audio version of the poet reading from "Howl."
The Letter Q (Scholastic, 2012) is a collection of letters written by queer writers to their younger selves, making imaginative journeys into their pasts, and addressing the often difficult coming-of-age experiences of LGBTQ individuals. Inspired by its strength, bravery, and heart, Poets.org asked several poets to respond with their own letters to their younger selves.
Lay your sleeping head, my love, Human on my faithless arm; Time and fevers burn away Individual beauty from Thoughtful children, and the grave Proves the child ephemeral: But in my arms till break of day Let the living creature lie, Mortal, guilty, but to me The entirely beautiful. Soul and body have no bounds: To lovers as they lie upon Her tolerant enchanted slope In their ordinary swoon, Grave the vision Venus sends Of supernatural sympathy, Universal love and hope; While an abstract insight wakes Among the glaciers and the rocks The hermit's carnal ecstasy. Certainty, fidelity On the stroke of midnight pass Like vibrations of a bell, And fashionable madmen raise Their pedantic boring cry: Every farthing of the cost, All the dreaded cards foretell, Shall be paid, but from this night Not a whisper, not a thought, Not a kiss nor look be lost. Beauty, midnight, vision dies: Let the winds of dawn that blow Softly round your dreaming head Such a day of welcome show Eye and knocking heart may bless, Find the mortal world enough; Noons of dryness find you fed By the involuntary powers, Nights of insult let you pass Watched by every human love.