Poetry Plus – My Sad Self – A poem by Allen Ginsberg

© Tatiana Bugaenko, Sunset in Manhattan

My Sad Self (Excerpt) by Allen Ginsberg

(To Frank O’Hara)

Twilight Purple Voiced

Twilight purple voiced
Manhattan noise hazed wallows
Silence dust choked coughs

Allen Ginsberg (1926 -1997) one of the most respected Beat writers and acclaimed American poets of his generation, Allen Ginsberg hails from Newark, New Jersey and raised in nearby Paterson, the son of an English teacher and Russian expatriate.

Ginsberg’s early life was marked by his mother’s psychological troubles, including a series of nervous breakdowns.

In 1943, while studying at Columbia University, Ginsberg befriended William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, and the trio later established themselves as pivotal figures in the Beat Movement.

The group members were known for their unconventional views, and frequently rambunctious behaviour.

Ginsberg first came to public attention in 1956 with the publication of Howl and Other Poems. “Howl,” a long-lined poem in the tradition of Walt Whitman, is an outcry of rage and despair against a destructive, abusive society.

Paul Zweig noted that it “almost singlehandedly dislocated the traditionalist poetry of the 1950s.”

A major theme in Ginsberg’s life and poetry was politics. Kenneth Rexroth called this aspect of Ginsberg’s work “an almost perfect fulfillment of the long, Whitman, Populist, social revolutionary tradition in American poetry.”

My Sad Self by Allen Ginsberg 

(To Frank O’Hara)

Sometimes when my eyes are red
I go up on top of the RCA Building
          and gaze at my world, Manhattan—

                     my buildings, streets I’ve done feats in,
                           lofts, beds, coldwater flats
—on Fifth Ave below which I also bear in mind,
          its ant cars, little yellow taxis, men
               walking the size of specks of wool—

   Panorama of the bridges, sunrise over Brooklyn machine,
          sun go down over New Jersey where I was born
             & Paterson where I played with ants—

   my later loves on 15th Street,
          my greater loves of Lower East Side,
             my once fabulous amours in the Bronx   

                                        faraway—
   paths crossing in these hidden streets,
      my history summed up, my absences   
             and ecstasies in Harlem—

      —sun shining down on all I own
       in one eyeblink to the horizon
               in my last eternity—
                                     matter is water.

Sad,
      I take the elevator and go
             down, pondering,
and walk on the pavements staring into all man’s
                                           plateglass, faces,
             questioning after who loves,

      and stop, bemused
             in front of an automobile shopwindow
      standing lost in calm thought,
             traffic moving up & down 5th Avenue blocks behind me   
                      waiting for a moment when …

Time to go home & cook supper & listen to
                      the romantic war news on the radio   
                                     … all movement stops
& I walk in the timeless sadness of existence,   

      tenderness flowing thru the buildings,
             my fingertips touching reality’s face,
      my own face streaked with tears in the mirror   
             of some window—at dusk—

                                     where I have no desire—
      for bonbons—or to own the dresses or Japanese   
                      lampshades of intellection—

Confused by the spectacle around me,
          Man struggling up the street
                     with packages, newspapers,
                                           ties, beautiful suits   
                     toward his desire

          Man, woman, streaming over the pavements   
                     red lights clocking hurried watches &   
                            movements at the curb—

And all these streets leading
          so crosswise, honking, lengthily,
                            by avenues
          stalked by high buildings or crusted into slums
                            thru such halting traffic

                                           screaming cars and engines   
so painfully to this
          countryside, this graveyard
                     this stillness
                                           on deathbed or mountain  
 
          once seen
                            never regained or desired
                                           in the mind to come
where all Manhattan that I’ve seen must disappear.

Bio Reference Attribution https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/allen-ginsberg

Poem Attribution © Allen Ginsberg, My Sad Self

Source Attribution https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/49307/my-sad-self

Photo Attribution © Cyril H. Baker, Allen Ginsberg, /Pix Inc./The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images, (Date Unstated)

Source Attribution https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/allen-ginsberg

Haiku Attribution, Goff James, Twilight Purple Voiced

Copyright (c) 2021 Goff James – All Rights Reserved 

More haiku poems by Goff James

Painting Attribution © Tatiana Bugaenko, Sunset in Manhattan, (Date Unstated)

Source Attribution https://www.saatchiart.com/art/Painting-Sunset-in-Manhattan/656943/2294034/view

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Open Box – Poetry quotation of the day

Allen Ginsberg, (Irwin Allen Ginsberg,1926 -1997, New York, New York), American poet whose epic poem Howl (1956) is considered to be one of the most significant products of the Beat movement.

Howl, Ginsberg’s first published book, laments what he believed to have been the destruction by insanity of the “best minds of [his] generation.” Dithyrambic and prophetic, owing something to the romantic bohemianism of Walt Whitman, it also dwells on homosexuality, drug addiction, Buddhism, and Ginsberg’s revulsion from what he saw as the materialism and insensitivity of post-World War II America.

Beats wrote in the language of the street about previously forbidden and unliterary topics. The ideas and art of the Beats greatly influenced popular culture in America during the 1950s and 1960s.

Ginsberg vigorously opposed militarism, economic materialism, and sexual repression, and he embodied various aspects of this counterculture with his views on drugs, hostility to bureaucracy, and openness to Eastern religions.

Bio Reference Attribution https://www.britannica.com/biography/Allen-Ginsberg & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allen_Ginsberg & https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/allen-

Photo Attribution © Hans van Dijk, Allen Ginsberg, 1979

Source Attribution https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allen_Ginsberg#/media/File:Allen_Ginsberg_1979_-_cropped.jpg

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