Thursday, October 1, 2015

Lawrence Ferlinghetti's Elegy to Allen Ginsberg



The Ginsberg-Ferlinghetti Letters, "I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career", published this past summer by City Lights, concludes with a reprint of Lawrence's moving elegy to his friend (from 1997) - "Allen Ginsberg Dying". 

We reprint it once again here

ALLEN GINSBERG DYING

Allen Ginsberg is dying
It's all in the papers
It's on the evening news
A great poet is dying
But his voice
won't die
His voice is on the land
In Lower Manhattan
in his own bed
he is dying
There is nothing
to do about it
He is dying the death that everyone dies
He is dying the death of a poet
He has a telephone in his hand
and he calls everyone
from his bed in Lower Manhattan
All around the world
late at night
the telephone is ringing
"This is Allen"
The voice says
"Allen Ginsberg calling"
How many times have they heard it
over the long great years
He doesn't have to say Ginsberg
All around the world
in the world of poets
There is only one Allen
"I wanted to tell you" he says
He tells them what's happening
what's coming down
on him
Death the dark lover
going down on him
His voice goes by satellite
over the land
over the Sea of Japam
where he once stood naked
trident in hand
like a young Neptune
a young man with black beard
standing on a stone beach
It is high tide and the seabirds cry
The waves break over him now
and the seabirds cry
on the San Francisco waterfront
There is a high wind
There are great white caps
lashing the Embarcadero
Allen is on the telephone
His voice is on the waves
I am reading Greek poetry
The sea is in it
Horses weep in it
The horses of Achilles
weep in it
here by the sea
in San Francisco
where the waves weep
they make a sibilant sound
a sibylline sound
Allen
they whisper
Allen


- Lawrence Ferlinghetti,  April 4, 1997  (Allen died the following day, April 5 1997)

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