Saturday, March 16, 2013

Allen Ginsberg


Siesta in Xbalba
and Return to the States
          dedicated to Karena Shields

I.

Late sun opening the book,
          blank page like light,
invisible words unscrawled,
          impossible syntax
of apocalypse--
          Uxmal : Noble Ruins
No construction--

          let the mind fall down.

--One could pass valuable months
and years perhaps a lifetime
doing nothing but lying in a hammock
reading prose with the white doves
          copulating underneath
and monkeys barking in the interior
          of the mountain
and I have succumbed to this
          temptation--

'They go mad in the Selva--'
          the madman read
and laughed in his hammock

          eyes watching me:
unease not of the jungle
          the poor dear,
can tire one--
          all that mud
and all those bugs . . .
          ugh . . .

Dreaming back I saw
an eternal kodachrome
souvenir of a gathering
of souls at a party,
crowded in an oval flash :
cigarettes, suggestions,
laughter in drunkenness,
broken sweet conversation,
acquaintance in the halls,
faces posed together,
stylized gestures,
odd familiar visages
and singular recognitions
that registered indifferent
greeting across time :
Anson reading Horace
with a rolling head,
white-handed Hohnsbean
camping gravely
with an absent glance,
bald Kingsland drinking
out of a huge glass,
Dusty in a party dress,
Durgin in white shoes
gesturing from a chair,
Keck in a corner waiting
for subterranean music,
Helen Parker lifting
her hands in surprise :
all posturing in one frame,
superficially gay
or tragic as may be,
illumed with the fatal
character and intelligent
actions of their lives.

And I in a concrete room
          above the abandoned
labyrinth of Palenque
          measuring my fate,
wandering solitary in the wild
          --blinking singleminded
at a bleak idea--
          until exhausted with
its action and contemplation
          my soul might shatter
at one primal moment's
          sensation of the vast
movement of divinity.

As I leaned against a tree
          inside a forest
expiring of self-begotten love,
I looked up at the stars absently,
          as if looking for
something else in the blue night
          through the boughs,
and for a moment saw myself
          leaning against a tree . . .

. . . back there the noise of a great party
          in the apartments of New York,
half-created paintings on the walls, fame,
          cocksucking and tears,
money and arguments of great affairs,
          the culture of my generation . . .

          my own crude night imaginings,
my own crude soul notes taken down
          in moments of isolation, dreams,
piercings, sequences of nocturnal thought
          and primitive illuminations

--uncanny feeling the white cat
          sleeping on the table
will open its eyes in a moment
          and be looking at me--.

One might sit in this Chiapas
recording the apparitions in the field
          visible from a hammock
looking out across the shadow of the pasture
in all the semblance of Eternity

          . . . a dwarfed thatch roof
down in the grass in a hollow slope
under the tall crowd of vegetation
          waiting at the wild edge :
the long shade of the mountain beyond
          in the near distance,
its individual hairline of trees
traced fine and dark along the ridge
          against the transparent sky light,
rifts and holes in the blue air
          and amber brightenings of clouds
disappearing down the other side
          into the South . . .

          palms with lethargic feelers
rattling in presage of rain,
          shifting their fronds
in the direction of the balmy wind,
          monstrous animals
sprayed up out of the ground
          settling and unsettling
as in water . . .
          and later in the night
a moment of premonition
when the plenilunar cloudfilled sky
          is still and small.

So spent a night
          with drug and hammock
at Chichen Itza on the Castle :--

          I can see the moon
moving over the edge of the night forest
          and follow its destination
through the clear dimensions of the sky
          from end to end of the dark
circular horizon.

          High dim stone portals,
entablatures of illegible scripture,
bas-reliefs of unknown perceptions :
          and now the flicker of my lamp
and smell of kerosene on dust-
          strewn floor where ant wends
its nightly ritual way toward great faces
          worn down by rain.
In front of me a deathshead
          half a thousand years old
--and have seen cocks a thousand
old grown over with moss and batshit
          stuck out of the wall
in a dripping vaulted house of rock--
          but deathshead's here
on portal still and thinks its way
          through centuries the thought
of the same night in which I sit
          in skully meditation
--sat in many times before by
          artisan other than me
until his image of ghostly change
          appeared unalterable--
but now his fine thought's vaguer
          than my dream of him :
and only the crude skull figurement's
          gaunt insensible lare is left,
with its broken plumes of sensation
and indecipherable headdresses of intellect
          scattered in the madness of oblivion
in holes and notes of elemental stone,
blind face of animal transcendency
          over the holy ruin of the world
dissolving into the sunless wall of a blackened room
          on a time-rude pyramid rebuilt
          in the bleak flat night of Yucatan
where I come with my own mad mind to study
          alien hieroglyphs of Eternity.

A creak in the rooms scared me.

Some sort of bird, vampire or swallow,
          flees with little paper wingflap
around the summit in its own air unconcerned
          with the great stone tree I perch on.

          Continual metallic
whirr of chicharras,
          then lesser chirps
of cricket : 5 blasts
          of the leg whistle.
The creak of an opening
          door in the forest,
some sort of weird birdsong
          or reptile croak.

My hat woven of hennequin
          on the stone floor
as a leaf on the waters,
          as perishable;
my candle wavers continuously
          and will go out.

Pale Uxmal,
          unhistoric, like a dream,
Tuluum shimmering on the coast in ruins;
Chichen Itza naked
          constructed on a plain;
Palenque, broken chapels in the green
          basement of a mount;
lone Kabah by the highway;
          Piedras Negras buried again
by dark archaeologists;
          Yaxchilan
resurrected in the wild,
and all the limbo of Xbalba still unknown--

          floors under roofcomb of branch,
foundation to ornament
          tumbled to the flowers,
pyramids and stairways
          raced with vine,
limestone corbels
          down in the river of trees,
pillars and corridors
          sunken under the flood of years :

Time's slow wall overtopping
          all that firmament of mind,
as if a shining waterfall of leaves and rain
were built down solid from the endless sky
          through which no thought can pass.

A great fat rooster
mounted on a tree stump
in the green afternoon,
the ego of the very fields,
screams in the holy sunlight!

--I can't think with that
supersonic cock intensity
crucifying my skull
in its imaginery sleep.

          --was looking back
with eyes shut to
          where they crawled
like ants on brown old temples
          building their minute ruins
and disappearing into the wild
          leaving many mysteries
of deathly volition
          to be divined.

I alone know the great crystal door
          to the House of Night,
a legend of centuries
          --I and a few indians.

And had I mules and money I could find
          the Cave of Amber
and the Cave of Gold
          rumored of the cliffs of Tumbala.

I found the face of one
          of the Nine Guardians of the Night
hidden in a mahogany hut
          in the Area of Lost Souls
--the first relic of kind for that place.

And I found as well a green leaf
          shaped like a human heart;
but to whom shall I send this
          anachronistic valentine?

Yet these ruins so much
          woke me to nostalgia
for the classic stations
          of the earth,
the ancient continent
          I have not seen
and the last few years
          of memory left
before the ultimate night
          of war.

As if these ruins were not enough,
          as if man could go
no further before heaven
          till he exhausted
the physical round
          of his own mortality
in the obscure cities
          hidden in the ageing world

. . . the few actual
          ecstatic conscious souls
certain to be found,
          familiars . . .
returning after years
          to my own scene
transfigured :
          to hurry change
to hurry the years
          bring me to my fate.

So I dream nightly of an embarcation,
          captains, captains,
iron passageways, cabin lights,
          Brooklyn across the waters,
the great dull boat, visitors, farewells,
          the blurred vast sea--
one trip a lifetime's loss or gain :

as Europe is my own imagination
          --many shall see her,
          many shall not--
though it's only the old familiar world
and not some abstract mystical dream.



         



1 comment:

  1. This is one of Ginsberg's finest poems. 05 April 2017.

    ReplyDelete