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Allen Ginsberg - The Lion For Real "Soyez muette pour moi, Idole contemplative..." I came home and found a lion in my living room Rushed out on the fire escape screaming Lion! Lion! Two stenographers pulled their brunnette hair and banged the window shut I hurried home to Patterson and stayed two days Called up old Reichian analyst who'd kicked me out of therapy for smoking marijuana 'It's happened' I panted 'There's a Lion in my living room' 'I'm afraid any discussion would have no value' he hung up I went to my old boyfriend we got drunk with his girlfriend I kissed him and announced I had a lion with a mad gleam in my eye We wound up fighting on the floor I bit his eyebrow he kicked me out I ended up masturbating in his jeep parked in the street moaning 'Lion.' Found Joey my novelist friend and roared at him 'Lion!' He looked at me interested and read me his spontaneous ignu high poetries I listened for lions all I heard was Elephant Tiglon Hippogriff Unicorn Ants But figured he really understood me when we made it in Ignaz Wisdom's bathroom. But next day he sent me a leaf from his Smoky Mountain retreat 'I love you little Bo-Bo with your delicate golden lions But there being no Self and No Bars therefore the Zoo of your dear Father hath no lion You said your mother was mad don't expect me to produce the Monster for your Bridegroom.' Confused dazed and exalted bethought me of real lion starved in his stink in Harlem Opened the door the room was filled with the bomb blast of his anger He roaring hungrily at the plaster walls but nobody could hear outside thru the window My eye caught the edge of the red neighbor apartment building standing in deafening stillness We gazed at each other his implacable yellow eye in the red halo of fur Waxed rhuemy on my own but he stopped roaring and bared a fang greeting. I turned my back and cooked broccoli for supper on an iron gas stove boilt water and took a hot bath in the old tup under the sink board. He didn't eat me, tho I regretted him starving in my presence. Next week he wasted away a sick rug full of bones wheaten hair falling out enraged and reddening eye as he lay aching huge hairy head on his paws by the egg-crate bookcase filled up with thin volumes of Plato, & Buddha. Sat by his side every night averting my eyes from his hungry motheaten face stopped eating myself he got weaker and roared at night while I had nightmares Eaten by lion in bookstore on Cosmic Campus, a lion myself starved by Professor Kandisky, dying in a lion's flophouse circus, I woke up mornings the lion still added dying on the floor--'Terrible Presence!'I cried'Eat me or die!' It got up that afternoon--walked to the door with its paw on the south wall to steady its trembling body Let out a soul-rending creak from the bottomless roof of his mouth thundering from my floor to heaven heavier than a volcano at night in Mexico Pushed the door open and said in a gravelly voice "Not this time Baby-- but I will be back again." Lion that eats my mind now for a decade knowing only your hunger Not the bliss of your satisfaction O roar of the universe how am I chosen In this life I have heard your promise I am ready to die I have served Your starved and ancient Presence O Lord I wait in my room at your Mercy. Paris, March 1958
Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry 1950s Poetic Movements Beat Poetry Confessional Verse The Group isn't really a school or movement but simply a regular gatherings of poets in the mid 1950s that included Ted Hughes, Peter Redgrove, George MacBeth, Edward Lucie-Smith and the founders Philip Hobsbaum and his wife. God of Love by George MacBeth The musk-ox is accustomed to near-Arctic conditions. When danger threatens, these beasts cluster together to form a defensive wall, or a "porcupine", with the calves in the middle. Dr Wolfgang Engelhart I found them between far hills, by a frozen lake. On a patch of bare ground. They were grouped In a solid ring, like an ark of horn. And around Them circled, slowly closing in, Their tongues lolling, their ears flattened against the wind, A whirlpool of wolves. As I breathed, one fragment of bone and Muscle detached itself from the mass and Plunged. The pad of the pack slackened, as if A brooch had been loosened. But when the bull Returned to the herd, the revolving collar was tighter. And only The windward owl, uplifted on white wings In the glass of air, alert for her young, Soared high enough to look into the cleared centre And grasp the cause. To the slow brain Of each beast by the frozen lake what lay in the cradle of their crowned Heads of horn was a sort of god-head. Its brows Nudged when the arc was formed. Its need Was a delicate womb away from the iron collar Of death, a cave in the ring of horn Their encircling flesh had backed with fur. That the collar of death Was the bone of their own skulls: that a softer womb Would open between far hills in a plunge Of bunched muscles: and that their immortal calf lay Dead on the snow with its horns dug into The ice for grass: they neither saw nor felt. And yet if That hill of fur could split and run like a river Of ice in thaw, like a broken grave It would crack across the icy crust of withdrawn Sustenance and the rigid circle Of death be shivered: the fed herd would entail its under-fur On the swell of a soft hill and the future be sown On grass, I thought. But the herd fell By the bank of the lake on the plain, and the pack closed, And the ice remained. And I saw that the god In their ark of horn was a god of love, who made them die. Movement Poets of the 20th century were known to be anti-poetic, sardonic and witty. Some Movement poets were Philip Larkin, Kingsley Amis, D. J. Enright, John Wain and Robert Conquest. It is much harder to find poems in the public domain by these contemporary poets. Home is So Sad by Philip Larkin Home is so sad. It stays as it was left, Shaped to the comfort of the last to go As if to win them back. Instead, bereft Of anyone to please, it withers so, Having no heart to put aside the theft And turn again to what it started as, A joyous shot at how things ought to be, Long fallen wide. You can see how it was: Look at the pictures and the cutlery. The music in the piano stool. That vase. San Francisco Renaissance is an umbrella term for the hodgepodge of poets and artistic communities that came out of the San Francisco Bay Area after World War II through the late 40's, 50's and 60s. The Beat movement, Black Mountain poets, Black Arts etc. although often on opposing sides artistically and politically, all reflected the Pacific coastal environment and the various cultures that populated the area. Poets such as Kenneth Rexroth, Robin Blaser, Robert Duncan, Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder let poetry workshops at San Francisco State College (which is where I went to school in the early 60s, but unfortunately I was uninterested in poetry at the time, so I never heard any of them, my loss.) and UC Berkeley. Codicil by Kenneth Rexroth 1956 Most of the world's poetry Is artifice, construction. No one reads it but scholars. After a generation It has grown so overcooked, It cannot be digested. There is little I haven't Read, and dreary stuff it was. Lamartine , Gower , Tasso , Or the metaphysicals Of Cambridge, ancient or modern, And their American apes. Of course for years the ruling Class of English poetry Has held that that is just what Poetry is, impersonal Construction, where personal Pronouns are never permitted. If rigorously enough Applied, such a theory Produces in practice its Opposite. The poetry Of Eliot and Valéry, Like that of Pope, isn't just Personal, it is intense, Subjective reverie as Intimate and revealing, Embarrassing if you will, As the indiscretions of The psychoanalyst's couch. There is always sufficient Reason for a horror of The use of the pronoun, "I."
The air is dark, the night is sad, I lie sleepless and I groan. Nobody cares when a man goes mad: He is sorry, God is glad. Shadow changes into bone. Every shadow has a name; When I think of mine I moan, I hear rumors of such fame. Not for pride, but only shame, Shadow changes into bone. When I blush I weep for joy, And laughter drops from me like a stone: The aging laughter of the boy To see the ageless dead so coy. Shadow changes into bone. Allen Ginsberg