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Populist Manifesto No. 1

by Lawrence Ferlinghetti


                Poets, come out of your closets,

Open your windows, open your doors,

You have been holed-up too long

in your closed worlds.

Come down, come down

from your Russian Hills and Telegraph Hills,

your Beacon Hills and your Chapel Hills,

your Mount Analogues and Montparnasses,

down from your foothills and mountains,

out of your teepees and domes.

The trees are still falling

and we’ll to the woods no more.

No time now for sitting in them

As man burns down his own house

to roast his pig

No more chanting Hare Krishna

while Rome burns.

San Francisco’s burning,

Mayakovsky’s Moscow’s burning

the fossil-fuels of life.

Night & the Horse approaches

eating light, heat & power,

and the clouds have trousers.

No time now for the artist to hide

above, beyond, behind the scenes,

indifferent, paring his fingernails,

refining himself out of existence.

No time now for our little literary games,

no time now for our paranoias & hypochondrias,

no time now for fear & loathing,

time now only for light & love.

We have seen the best minds of our generation

destroyed by boredom at poetry readings.

Poetry isn’t a secret society,

It isn’t a temple either.

Secret words & chants won’t do any longer.

The hour of oming is over,

the time of keening come,

a time for keening & rejoicing

over the coming end

of industrial civilization

which is bad for earth & Man.

Time now to face outward

in the full lotus position

with eyes wide open,

Time now to open your mouths

with a new open speech,

time now to communicate with all sentient beings,

All you ‘Poets of the Cities’

hung in museums including myself,

All you poet’s poets writing poetry

about poetry,

All you poetry workshop poets

in the boondock heart of America,

All you housebroken Ezra Pounds,

All you far-out freaked-out cut-up poets,

All you pre-stressed Concrete poets,

All you cunnilingual poets,

All you pay-toilet poets groaning with graffiti,

All you A-train swingers who never swing on birches,

All you masters of the sawmill haiku in the Siberias of America,

All you eyeless unrealists,

All you self-occulting supersurrealists,

All you bedroom visionaries and closet agitpropagators,

All you Groucho Marxist poets

and leisure-class Comrades

who lie around all day and talk about the workingclass proletariat,

All you Catholic anarchists of poetry,

All you Black Mountaineers of poetry,

All you Boston Brahims and Bolinas bucolics,

All you den mothers of poetry,

All you zen brothers of poetry,

All you suicide lovers of poetry,

All you hairy professors of poesie,

All you poetry reviewers

drinking the blood of the poet,

All you Poetry Police -

Where are Whitman’s wild children,

where the great voices speaking out

with a sense of sweetness and sublimity,

where the great’new vision,

the great world-view,

the high prophetic song

of the immense earth

and all that sings in it

And our relations to it -

Poets, descend

to the street of the world once more

And open your minds & eyes

with the old visual delight,

Clear your throat and speak up,

Poetry is dead, long live poetry

with terrible eyes and buffalo strength.

Don’t wait for the Revolution

or it’ll happen without you,

Stop mumbling and speak out

with a new wide-open poetry

with a new commonsensual ‘public surface’

with other subjective levels

or other subversive levels,

a tuning fork in the inner ear

to strike below the surface.

Of your own sweet Self still sing

yet utter ‘the word en-masse -

Poetry the common carrier

for the transportation of the public

to higher places

than other wheels can carry it.

Poetry still falls from the skies

into our streets still open.

They haven’t put up the barricades, yet,

the streets still alive with faces,

lovely men & women still walking there,

still lovely creatures everywhere,

in the eyes of all the secret of all

still buried there,

Whitman’s wild children still sleeping there,

Awake and walk in the open air.


(Lawrence Ferlinghetti, all rights reserved)



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