In Golden Gate Park That Day . . .

By Lawrence Ferlinghetti b. 1919 Lawrence Ferlinghetti
In Golden Gate Park that day
                           a man and his wife were coming along   
         thru the enormous meadow
                           which was the meadow of the world   
He was wearing green suspenders
                              and carrying an old beat-up flute
                                                                        in one hand   
      while his wife had a bunch of grapes
                                  which she kept handing out
                                                                         individually   
                                                      to various squirrels
                                                                           as if each   
                                                             were a little joke

      And then the two of them came on
                                                thru the enormous meadow   
which was the meadow of the world
                                                 and then
            at a very still spot where the trees dreamed
         and seemed to have been waiting thru all time
                                                                            for them   
             they sat down together on the grass
                                              without looking at each other   
                and ate oranges
                                    without looking at each other
                                                            and put the peels   
             in a basket which they seemed
                                       to have brought for that purpose   
                  without looking at each other

      And then
                  he took his shirt and undershirt off   
       but kept his hat on
                                    sideways
                                                and without saying anything   
             fell asleep under it
                                           And his wife just sat there looking   
at the birds which flew about
   calling to each other
                           in the stilly air
      as if they were questioning existence
                   or trying to recall something forgotten

But then finally
                   she too lay down flat
                                                and just lay there looking up   
                                                                               at nothing   
                        yet fingering the old flute
                                                                which nobody played
                            and finally looking over
                                                                at him
                  without any particular expression
                                                               except a certain awful look   
                        of terrible depression

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “In Golden Gate Park That Day . . .” from Coney Island of the Mind. Copyright © 1958 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation, www.wwnorton.com/nd/welcome.htm.

Source: These Are My Rivers: New and Selected Poems (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1993)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti b. 1919

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Beat

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Lawrence  Ferlinghetti

Biography

As poet, playwright, publisher, and activist, Lawrence Ferlinghetti helped to spark the San Francisco literary renaissance of the 1950s and the subsequent “Beat” movement. Like the Beats, Ferlinghetti felt strongly that art should be accessible to all people, not just a handful of highly educated intellectuals. His career has been marked by its constant challenge of the status quo; his poetry engages readers, defies popular . . .

Continue reading this biography

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Beat

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.