Happy Birthday Allen Ginsberg wherever you are

The Lion For Real by Allen Ginsberg
Soyez muette pour moi, Idole contemplative…”
I came home and found a lion in my living room
Rushed out on the fire escape screaming Lion! Lion!
Two stenographers pulled their brunnette hair and banged the window shut
I hurried home to Patterson and stayed two days
Called up old Reichian analyst
who’d kicked me out of therapy for smoking marijuana
‘It’s happened’ I panted ‘There’s a Lion in my living room’
‘I’m afraid any discussion would have no value’ he hung up
I went to my old boyfriend we got drunk with his girlfriend
I kissed him and announced I had a lion with a mad gleam in my eye
We wound up fighting on the floor I bit his eyebrow he kicked me out
I ended up masturbating in his jeep parked in the street moaning ‘Lion.’

Lion that eats my mind now for a decade knowing only your hunger
Not the bliss of your satisfaction O roar of the universe how am I chosen
In this life I have heard your promise I am ready to die I have served
Your starved and ancient Presence O Lord I wait in my room at your
Paris, March 1958

7 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Allen Ginsberg wherever you are

  1. oh allen, you who speak no longer to the Jewish youth, your assimilated verse has become my stomach acid heartburn cringe.

  2. Interesting comment bp. I’m not sure that Ginsberg thought for a minute about speaking to the Jewish youth. He wrote with and for, slept with, hung out with Ferlinghetti, Kerouack, Hunkle and the rest of the beats. His muse was Yeats, a British mystic poet and and his inspiration was Walt Whitman. His poetry is neither Jewish nor assimilated, it seems to me. Its just important American poetry.
    Sorry about the stomach acid though.

  3. Really, I thought you posted this because he was a Jewish poet? Arguing he wasn’t is like arguing that Josh White wasn’t speaking to black youths because he hung out Greenwich Village with whites. I don’t understand how your claim squares with Ginsberg’s hundreds of references to judaism, jewish history, or judaism – or his . Growing up, I looked up to Allen because he precisely didn’t seem to transcend his Jewishness.
    I just don’t think he’s inspiring anymore, and if you asked a day school to recite HIS Kaddish, they would probably be at a loss.

  4. If you’ve ever heard Ginsberg recite his Kaddish you will see how little Jewish he had in him. He breaks his teeth on the words. His sanskrit is much better. In Kaddish he runs around San Francisco in the middle of the night wondering why he can’t get a minyan. Sure he came out of a secular Jewish mileu, but why we should assume that he was writing to inspire Jewish youth is beyond me.
    On the other hand, as a poet, he is obviously important and his poems are still powerful.
    Its always been hard to look up to Ginsberg given his height and the fact that he would have been appalled by people looking up to him. On the other hand he was an amazing teacher and he channeled his age in a way that will have people still reading him in a century.

  5. I’m not sure why you dispute that he speaking to Jewish youth. He spoke to me, I’m Jewish, and I connected to him Jewishly. It’s not so much an academic argument as a keen observation. I never claimed to know Reb Ginsberg personally, but I’m baffled why the claim is beyond you. All I know is that Ginsberg was somewhere on my journey to Jewish ritual, that was all I was claiming.

  6. My point was about intended audience not possible audience. If you are putting yourself in the latter, i.e. that you, in fact, despite whatever Ginsberg’s intentions were, were inspired by his poetry, then we have no dispute at all.

  7. His religion may have been Buddhism, but the man was a yid through and through. He said that his Jewishness was that of the “delicatessen intellectual” variety. If that’s not a sign of a yiddishe Knopf, I don’t know what is.

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