1959

By Gregory Corso 1930–2001 Gregory Corso
Uncomprising year—I see no meaning to life.
Though this abled self is here nonetheless,
either in trade gold or grammaticness,
I drop the wheelwright’s simple principle—
Why weave the garland? Why ring the bell?

Penurious butchery these notoriously human years,
these confident births these lucid deaths these years.
Dream’s flesh blood reals down life’s mystery—
there is no mystery.
Cold history knows no dynastic Atlantis.
The habitual myth has an eagerness to quit.

No meaning to life can be found in this holy language
nor beyond the lyrical fabricator’s inescapable theme
be found the loathed find—there is nothing to find.

Multitudinous deathplot! O this poor synod—
Hopers and seekers paroling meaning to meaning,
annexing what might be meaningful, what might be meaningless.

Repeated nightmare, lachrymae lachrymae—
a fire behind a grotto, a thick fog, shredded masts,
the nets heaved—and the indescribable monster netted.
Who was it told that red flesh hose be still?
For one with smooth hands did with pincers
snip the snout—It died like a yawn.
And when the liver sack was yanked
I could not follow it to the pan.

I could not follow it to the pan—
I woke to the reality of cars; Oh
the dreadful privilege of that vision!
Not one antique faction remained;

Egypt, Rome, Greece,
and all such pedigree dreams fled.
Cars are real! Eternity is done.
The threat of Nothingness renews.
I touch the untouched.
I rank the rose militant.
Deny, I deny the tastes and habits of the age.
I am its punk debauche .... A fierce lampoon
seeking to inherit what is necessary to forfeit.

Lies! Lies! Lies! I lie, you lie, we all lie!
There is no us, there is no world, there is no universe,
there is no life, no death, no nothing—all is meaningless,
and this too is a lie—O damned 1959!
Must I dry my inspiration in this sad concept?
Delineate my entire stratagem?
Must I settle into phantomness
and not say I understand things better than God?

Gregory Corso, “1959” from The Happy Birthday of Death. Copyright � 1960 by New Directions Publishing Corporation. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: Mindfield: New and Selected Poems (1989)

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Poet Gregory Corso 1930–2001

SCHOOL / PERIOD Beat

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 Gregory  Corso

Biography

Gregory Corso was a key member of the Beat movement, a group of convention-breaking writers who were credited with sparking much of the social and political change that transformed the United States in the 1960s. Corso's spontaneous, insightful, and inspirational verse once prompted fellow Beat poet Allen Ginsberg to describe him as an "awakener of youth." Although Corso enjoyed his greatest level of popularity during the 1960s . . .

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SCHOOL / PERIOD Beat

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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