Saturday, June 03, 2006

Allen Ginsberg's 80th Birthday Today!

Allen Ginsberg would have been 80 years old today. Nearly a decade after his death (the same day his teacher Chogyam Trungpa died), Allen continues to inspire and irritate with his signature combination of candor and wholehearted compassion through his enduring legacy. Poet, teacher, friend, Buddhist practitioner, political avatar, Ginsberg remains one of the great American minds in promoting a saner world.

Today by coincidence is also the birth of the Buddha celebrated universally as a day when one's actions and thoughts are multiplied millions of times. So, think positive thoughts, write a poem, reflect kindly on the bard who inspired so many of us.

Five A.M.

Elan that lifts me above the clouds
into pure space, timeless, yea eternal
Breath transmuted into words
Transmuted back to breath
in one hundred two hundred years
nearly Immortal, Sappho's 26 centuries
of cadenced breathing -- beyond time, clocks, empires, bodies, cars,
chariots, rocket ships skyscrapers, Nation empires
brass walls, polished marble, Inca Artwork
of the mind -- but where's it come from?
Inspiration? The muses drawing breath for you? God?
Nah, don't believe it, you'll get entangled in Heaven or Hell --
Guilt power, that makes the heart beat wake all night
flooding mind with space, echoing through future cities, Megalopolis or
Cretan village, Zeus' birth cave Lassithi Plains -- Otsego County
farmhouse, Kansas front porch?
Buddha's a help, promises ordinary mind no nirvana --
coffee, alcohol, cocaine, mushrooms, marijuana, laughing gas?
Nope, too heavy for this lightness lifts the brain into blue sky
at May dawn when birds start singing on East 12th street --
Where does it come from, where does it go forever?

Allen Ginsberg from Death and Fame

In this BBC interview, Ginsberg sings "Father Death Blues" which he says is the work he wants to be remembered for.