Sunday, February 06, 2005

Ode to Failure

by Allen Ginsberg

"Many prophets have failed, their voices silent
ghost-shouts in basements nobody heard dusty laughter in family attics
nor glanced them on park benches weeping with relief under empty sky
Walt Whitman viva'd local losers - courage to Fat Ladies in the Freak Show!
nervous prisoners whose mustached lips dripped sweat on chow
lines -
Mayakovsky cried, Then die! my verse, die like the workers' rank & file
fusilladed in Petersburg!
Prospero burned his Power books & plummeted his magic wand to the
the bottom of dragon seas
Alexander the Great failed to find more worlds to conquer!
O Failure I chant your terifying name, accept me your 54 year old Prophet
epicking Eternal Flop! I join your Pantheon of mortal bards, & hasten this
ode with high blood pressure
rushing to the top of my skull as if I wouldn't last another minute, like the
Dying Gaul! to
You, Lord of blind Monet, deaf Beethoven, armless Venus de Milo, headless
Winged Victory!
I failed to sleep with every bearded rosy-cheeked boy I jacked off over
My tirades destroyed no Intellectual Unions of KGB & CIA in turtlenecks
& underpants, their woolen suits & tweeds
I never dissolved Plutonium or dismantled the nuclear Bomb before my skull
lost hair
I have not yet stopped the Armies of entire Mankind in their march toward
World War III
I never got to Heaven, Nirvana, X, Whatchamacallit, I never left Earth,
I never learned to die."

Allen Ginsberg October 10, 1980


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