Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Rookie (Bronxville, New York)

Sometime During Eternity - Poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Sometime during eternity
some guys show up
and one of them
who shows up real late
is a kind of carpenter
from some square-type place
like Galilee
and he starts wailing
and claiming he is hep
to who made heaven
and earth
and that the cat
who really laid it on us
is his Dad

And moreover
he adds
It's all writ down
on some scroll-type parchments
which some henchmen
leave lying around the Dead Sea somewheres
a long time ago
and which you won't even find
for a coupla thousand years or so
or at least for
ninteen hundred and fortyseven
of them
to be exact
and even then
nobody really believes them
or me
for that matter

You're hot
they tell him

And they cool him

They stretch him on the Tree to cool
And everybody after that
is always making models
of this Tree
with Him hung up
and always crooning His name
and calling Him to come down
and sit in
on their combo
as if he is THE king cat
who's got to blow
or they can't quite make it

Only he don't come down
from His Tree

Him just hang there
on His Tree
looking real Petered out
and real cool
and also
according to a roundup
of late world news
from the usual unreliable sources
real dead


Comments about Sometime During Eternity by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

  • Rajnish Manga (6/6/2017 11:51:00 PM)


    Starting like a mythological story, the poem meanders to the bizarre and realities of the present day living with philosophical undertones. Thanks. (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (6/6/2017 6:42:00 PM)


    This poem puts everything in its place outside the box. (Report) Reply

  • (6/6/2017 2:27:00 PM)


    The Ancient Egyptians thought that a cat could have nine lives. These Mau cats and have been domesticated to become members of the households being used to hunt fish, birds, and rodents. They have been protected by the law as a manifestation of Bast, a feline goddess. Bast protected the fertility, the moon, and all the cats.The body of a dead cat was mummified and buried in a special cemetery. In the Celtic mythology, they have been respected as totem animals because those people
    thought that the cats have been the guardians of the gates to the Otherworld, the guardians of their treasures, and much more, a spiritual link between humans and the cosmos except the black cats that have been considered a sign of evil. In Norse mythology, the cats have been considered sacred for Freya, the goddess of love and beauty. During the Middle Ages, The Christians associated the black cats with Satan. The Japanese cats are called Maneki and are revered for drawing good fortune. In the Islamic religion, the cats are respected and protected because they were loved by the Prophet Mohammed.
    The first line is a contrast between the temporal and the
    atemporal meaning, '' Sometime during eternity'' (it is without the comma) . Then, the poet refers to the square-type-''However, in some places, magic squares is used as a general term to cover both the normal and non-normal ones, especially when non-normal ones are under discussion. Moreover, the term magic squares is sometimes also used to refer to various types of word squares.''(Wikipedia) . The poet considers Galilee be a magic square because he mentions the myth of the cat.Between the ''guys'' only one is a carpenter considering this myth of the cat, but the poet doesn't specify anything about his identity. This carpenter found proves regarding this situation, ''some henchmen
    leave lying around the Dead Sea somewheres
    a long time ago''. The poet is in searching for the ''king cat''(king, not King) . Regarding that fact that this king cat ''Only he doesn't come down/ from His Tree'', the poet suggests that this tree is, in fact, the tree of knowledge, so the conclusion is that the king cat is the serpent mentioned in the Bible. Thinking of the '' magic square'', non-normal words ''are under discussion''. According to a Chinese legend, the people were able to use this square ''in a certain way to control the river and protect themselves from floods.''(Wikipedia) .
    ''In about 1510 Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa wrote De Occulta Philosophia, drawing on the Hermetic and magical works of Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola. In its 1531 edition, he expounded on the magical virtues of the seven magical squares of orders 3 to 9, each associated with one of the astrological planets, much in the same way as the older texts did. This book was very influential throughout Europe until the counter-reformation, and Agrippa's magic squares, sometimes called kameas, continue to be used within modern ceremonial magic in much the same way as he first prescribed.The most common use for these kameas is to provide a pattern upon which to construct the sigils of spirits, angels or demons; the letters of the entity's name are converted into numbers, and lines are traced through the pattern that these successive numbers make on the kamea. In a magical context, the term magic square is also applied to a variety of word squares or number squares found in magical grimoires, including some that do not follow any obvious pattern, and even those with differing numbers of rows and columns. They are generally intended for use as talismans. For instance the following squares are: The Sator square, one of the most famous magic squares found in a number of grimoires including the Key of Solomon; a square to overcome envy, from The Book of Power, and two squares from The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage, the first to cause the illusion of a superb palace to appear, and the second to be worn on the head of a child during an angelic invocation.''
    Also Lawrence Ferlinghetti ''concedes that the world would need to be populated by saints in order for pure anarchism to be lived practically ''(Wikipedia) .
    (Report) Reply

    Marieta Maglas (6/6/2017 2:39:00 PM)

    Please, reconsider the sentence, ''These Mau cats have been domesticated to become members of the households while being used to hunt fish, birds, and rodents.''

  • Glen Kappy (6/6/2017 8:27:00 AM)


    lawrence,

    if you're reading this, i want you to know you're my favorite of the beat poets.

    in this poem you summon well the era of poetry read to jazz accompaniment.

    i wonder, at this stage of your life, whether your feelings about the king cat and the things your describe in this poem have changed any.

    wishing all the best to you,

    glen kappy
    (Report) Reply

  • Muzahidul Reza (6/6/2017 7:17:00 AM)


    nobody really believes them
    or me
    for that matter, interesting, thank you for sharing the poem with us
    (Report) Reply

  • Lantz Pierre (6/6/2017 4:24:00 AM)


    A real gone rendition of what's become a timeless bit of story-telling. This is almost a self-parody in the form of a parody of the gospel. Ferlinghetti was a peer to, friend and publisher of the core group of writers to be known and grouped under the name of the Beat Generation (Kerouac, Ginsberg, Snyder, Whalen, Corso, Cassidy) . It takes up the jazz prosody style of the fifties with all its specific jargon and lingo and relates a story as old as the common era. You can almost hear the bongos in the background being played by Maynard G. Krebs. It's a spoof, done by an insider, with love. It reflects a certain time in American literary history, a time when the cool kids had fully adopted the idea that God is dead and listened to the greatest jazz musicians blowing their wild sounds into the chaos of a new day dawning. I used to have a recording of Ferlinghetti reading this poem. A memorable bit of beat expression. (Report) Reply

  • Paul Brookes (6/6/2017 2:57:00 AM)


    Personally it was, I felt, a piece of prose in the vernacular It retold a story in simple terms It not do it for me as a reader of poetry as a writer it sparked my interest Did I like it no was it worth reading yes so in all pretty mixed feelings. (Report) Reply

  • Pranab K Chakraborty (6/6/2017 2:24:00 AM)


    Only he don't come down
    from His Tree.................................................... spontaneous flow of exposing poetic foams and fathoms makes the writing interesting at least to rest with the poet himself to rest his pen/button. And as soon as it finishes we feel our real position encrypted with the beginning of this comment. Nice.
    (Report) Reply

  • Robert Murray Smith (6/6/2017 1:03:00 AM)


    A true rendition of the apparition based on scripted myths.+++10

    Robert
    (Report) Reply

  • Bernard F. Asuncion (6/6/2017 12:44:00 AM)


    Heaven and earth...... thanks for posting.... (Report) Reply

  • everything has a name but me (2/12/2008 8:37:00 PM)


    It is a rather biased poem in all its state, but nevertheless, you are entitled to your opinion. I found it a bit more prose-like than I prefer. Overall, it was not easy figuring the indistinguishable change in tone, which I think I may have found, if I'm right. (Report) Reply

  • (3/21/2007 5:41:00 PM)


    One of the real nuggets of the Beat lexicon. A real classic of the Beat Generation. (Report) Reply

Read all 13 comments »

# 422 poem on top 500 Poems




Read this poem in other languages

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: cat, tree, heaven, sea, world, time, believe



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003



[Report Error]