Listening To Lawrence Ferlinghetti Poem by Michael Shepherd

Listening To Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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The story is.. no..
the history is.. no…
the story of the history is,
that back in the 15th century,
the wild battered shores of Portugal
threw up strange vegetable things,
strange woods, strange scented things, that spoke of
somewhere that was not Europe; so, was there,
far or near across the sea, between Europe and
the end, the plate’s-edge of the world
where anything might happen
like, a fall into infinite space.. falling, falling..
an island? and if an island, large or small,
did it, at the other side, fall straight into that nowhere,
or did it have a West Coast?

what human excitement for the adventurous!
and as each of us grows up, this same excitement..

I remember when we were wondering
in a tired but changing world
who we were, what the world was, mid-1950s,
and word came (O brave new world
that hath such creatures in’t…)
of people called the Beats – did that mean
beaten down, or beatific, or, right on the beat? –
from the East and then the West Coast
of that very large continent across the sea..

and after we’d read Ginsberg, Corso, Burroughs,
in 1958 came a sweet book of poetry,
its photographic cover all whites and blacks and grays
and lights –‘ A Coney Island of the Mind’ –
and I treasured it, even when it was closed…

The picture of the wild and loose and free
that we had then, did not accord
with the human being of magnificence
who stood there at the reading-desk,
huge in his eighties, with a face and build
straight out of Italy of the Renaissance –
even with a shirt of almost Tuscan red –
who fleshed out, statured out, the word
‘patrician’ – and read his still wild poetry
to a hand-held electronic score
of seagulls over harbour lights,
like some Dante who’d been to hell
and back, and walked Italian streets,
and ancient Palestinian mountains too,
who’d heard that message that time’s tide throws up
of a tomorrow that’s not like today;

proclaiming a humanity beyond even anarchy
with all the kindliness of those
who guard the human race.

Scarlett Treat 11 November 2006

What a journey, too - that discovery of poetry! What an impression on the mind of myself, who had never been exposed to it very much - and how overwhelming it was to me. Thanks, Mike, for reminding me of that joy of discovery! !

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Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd

Marton, Lancashire
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