Lawrence Ferlinghetti

(Bronxville, New York)

Constantly Risking Absurdity


Constantly risking absurdity
and death
whenever he performs
above the heads
of his audience
the poet like an acrobat
climbs on rime
to a high wire of his own making
and balancing on eyebeams
above a sea of faces
paces his way
to the other side of the day
performing entrachats
and sleight-of-foot tricks
and other high theatrics
and all without mistaking
any thing
for what it may not be
For he's the super realist
who must perforce perceive
taut truth
before the taking of each stance or step
in his supposed advance
toward that still higher perch
where Beauty stands and waits
with gravity
to start her death-defying leap
And he
a little charleychaplin man
who may or may not catch
her fair eternal form
spreadeagled in the empty air
of existence

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Jacob Erin-cilberto (5/10/2008 9:53:00 AM)

    i love ferlihnghetti and have ever since my first modern american poetry class in 1970-

    i think 'constantly risking absurdity' is one of the great anthems for poets...
    we surely do risk absurdity and flying above the heads of our audiences, only because they often won't just see what they see.

    'i am waiting' is my favorite of his....but he has been an inspiration for my poetry for almost 40 years,

    thank you, lawrence (Report) Reply

  • Russell Beaty (12/4/2007 5:53:00 PM)

    Ferlinghetti was one strange man this poem was the only one that didnt depress me, I aslo like the charliechaplin man I thought that that made the poem (Report) Reply

  • David Peters (12/28/2006 5:02:00 PM)

    While I'm not generally a fan of Ferlinghetti's poems, I've always loved this one.

    It's sad to see that it is not formatted here the way he arranged it. Using the original format is critical if readers/listeners are to truly capture the meanings and emotional content of this poem. (Report) Reply

  • Stan Jelley (12/1/2004 12:12:00 AM)

    One of my favourite poems; sums up and illuminates like nothing else could the personal exposure and risk inherent in any creative act. The common farewell these days of Take Care is the very opposite. The final image of the charleychaplin man who may or may not catch beauty shows again the self-sacrificing risk in pursuit of success, satisfaction, or even audience acclaim. But how artistically and with what panache does Ferlinghetti express it! (Report) Reply

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