Monday, October 4, 2010

City Lights

On my recent trip to San Francisco, I got to visit the world famous home of Beat Poetry- the City Lights Bookstore. This bookstore is famous (or infamous)for being the place where Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and all those other beat poets first got their start.

I am a pretty conservative person, but I do have a special place in my heart for poetry that deals with pain, idealism, and disgust with greed and arrogance.

I bought a little book called City Lights Pocket Poets Anthology. One poem in particular spoke to me. I wish I had written it.

#25- by Larwrence Ferlinghetti

The world is a beautiful place

to be born into

if you don't mind happiness
not always being

so very much fun

if you don't mind a touch of hell

now and then

just when everything is fine

because even in heaven

they don't sing

all the time

The world is a beautiful place

to be born into

if you don't mind some people dying

all the time

or maybe only starving

some of the time

which isn't half so bad

if it isn't you

Oh the world is a beautiful place

to be born into

if you don't mind

a few dead minds

in the higher places

or a bomb or two

now and then

in your upturned faces

or other such improprieties

as our Name Brand society

is prey to

with its men of distinction

and its men of extinction

and its priests

and other patrolmen

and its various segregations

and congressional investigations

and other constipations

that our fool flesh is heir to

Yes the world is the best place of all

for a lot of such things as

making the fun scene

and making the love scene

and making the sad scene

and singing low songs and having inspirations

and walking around

looking at everything

and smelling flowers

and goosing statues

and even thinking

and kissing people and

making babies and wearing pants
and waving hats and
and going swimming in rivers
on picnics

in the middle of the summer

and just generally

'living it up'

but then right in the middle of it

comes the smiling



  1. wow. That is a good poem. I wish I had written it, too.

  2. Loved the poem, but didn't think the last line fitted the format of what went before, I know it was intended to have impact, but for me it wasn't subtle enough?

  3. True; the beat poets weren't known for their subtlety.

  4. Droll and fatalistic. Great contrasts between images. Simple structure yet profound. Ends with a dull thud!