The state of the world calls out for poetry to save it.
If you would be a poet, create works capable of answering the challenge of apocalyptic times, even if this meaning sounds apocalyptic.
You are Whitman, you are Poe, you are Mark Twain, you are Emily Dickinson and Edna St. Vincent Millay, you are Neruda and Mayakovsky and Pasolini, you are an American or a non-American, you can conquer the conquerors with words….
– from Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s Poetry as Insurgent Art
Last night was the Republican Iowa caucus. From what I saw, it was a close race, with Mitt Romney barely gaining the victory over Rick Santorum. Without getting too political (I promised my father that I wouldn’t allow this blog to become a political rant), I must admit that I’ve felt quite a bit of sadness and frustration watching the Republican primary season unfold.
It has seemed that the candidates neglect addressing pressing foreign and domestic issues, of which there are many, in favor of engaging in a race to see who can present themselves as being the most closed, provincial, anti-intellectual, anti-science, anti-homosexuality… ad nauseam. Moreover, never in my memory can recall a time where a candidate’s religion has played such a prominent role. In fact, on Monday, Talk of the Nation on NPR covered that very issue. Whether Bachman, Perry, Romney, or Santorum, it seems that they are also in a race to try to “out-religion” each other. Is this really where we’ve come to as a country?
Last night, as I was falling asleep watching Santorum address one group or another as the results trickled in, my thoughts snapped to the poem, “I Am Waiting,” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I went downstairs and pulled my copy of A Coney Island of the Mind off my shelves and read. Seems as timely today as it must have seemed when he wrote it in 1958.
I am waiting for my case to come up and I am waiting for a rebirth of wonder and I am waiting for someone to really discover America and wail and I am waiting for the discovery Of a new symbolic western frontier and I am waiting for the American Eagle to really spread its wings and straighten up and fly right and I am waiting for the Age of Anxiety to drop dead and I am waiting for the war to be fought which will make the world safe for anarchy and I am waiting for the final withering away of all governments and I am perpetually awaiting a rebirth of wonder I am waiting for the second coming And I am waiting For a religious revival To sweep thru the state of Arizona And I am waiting For the grapes of wrath to stored And I am waiting For them to prove That God is really American And I am waiting To see God on television Piped into church altars If they can find The right channel To tune it in on And I am waiting for the last supper to be served again and a strange new appetizer and I am perpetually awaiting a rebirth of wonder I am waiting for my number to be called and I am waiting for the Salvation Army to take over and I am waiting for the meek to be blessed and inherit the earth without taxes and I am waiting for forests and animals to reclaim the earth as theirs and I am waiting for a way to be devised to destroy all nationalisms without killing anybody and I am waiting for linnets and planets to fall like rain and I am waiting for lovers and weepers to lie down together again in a new rebirth of wonder I am waiting for the great divide to be crossed and I anxiously waiting For the secret of eternal life to be discovered By an obscure practitioner and I am waiting for the storms of life to be over and I am waiting to set sail for happiness and I am waiting for a reconstructed Mayflower to reach America with its picture story and TV rights sold in advance to the natives and I am waiting for the lost music to sound again in the Lost Continent in a new rebirth of wonder I am waiting for the day that maketh all things clear and I am waiting for retribution for what America did to Tom Sawyer and I am waiting for the American Boy to take off Beauty's clothes and get on top of her and I am waiting for Alice in Wonderland to retransmit to me her total dream of innocence and I am waiting for Childe Roland to come to the final darkest tower and I am waiting for Aphrodite to grow live arms at a final disarmament conference in a new rebirth of wonderI am waiting to get some intimations of immortality by recollecting my early childhood and I am waiting for the green mornings to come again for some strains of unpremeditated art to shake my typewriter and I am waiting to write the great indelible poem and I am waiting for the last long rapture and I am perpetually waiting for the fleeting lovers on the Grecian Urn to catch each other at last and embrace and I am awaiting perpetually and forever a renaissance of wonder