Monday, May 27, 2024

The Poetry Corner


The world is a beautiful place,  Lawrence Ferlinghetti

By Norah Christianson

The world is a beautiful place

Lawrence Ferlinghetti


The world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don’t mind happiness
not always being
so very much fun
if you don’t mind a touch of hell
now and then
just when everything is fine
because even in heaven
they don’t sing
all the time


The world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don’t mind some people dying
all the time
or maybe only starving
some of the time
which isn’t half so bad
if it isn’t you

Oh the world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don’t much mind
a few dead minds
in the higher places
or a bomb or two
now and then
in your upturned faces
or such other improprieties
as our Name Brand society
is prey to
with its men of distinction
and its men of extinction
and its priests
and other patrolmen
and its various segregations
and congressional investigations
and other constipations
that our fool flesh
is heir to

Yes the world is the best place of all
for a lot of such things as
making the fun scene
and making the love scene
and making the sad scene
and singing low songs of having
and walking around
looking at everything
and smelling flowers
and goosing statues
and even thinking
and kissing people and
making babies and wearing pants
and waving hats and
and going swimming in rivers
on picnics
in the middle of the summer
and just generally
‘living it up’

but then right in the middle of it
comes the smiling

Ferlinghetti felt that “…art should be accessible to all people, not just a handful of highly educated intellectuals.” In “The world is a beautiful place,” Ferlinghetti is being totally realistic, speaking the truth about life. He makes us smile in recognition that life is both happy and fraught. The poem is a humorous memento mori poem, reminding us that “…right in the middle of it/comes the smiling/mortician.”

Lawrence Ferlinghetti was born in Yonkers, NY in 1919. His father died before he was born, and shortly after, his mother was committed to a mental hospital. He was raised by an aunt and then foster parents. Ferlinghetti served in the Navy during WW II, as the captain of a submarine chaser in the Normandy invasion.

Ferlinghetti was not only a poet, but also an artist. Much of his work was displayed in galleries and museums throughout the U.S. He was also the author of translations, fiction, and theater and art criticism.  Ferlinghetti died in in San Francisco in 2021 at the age of 101.



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