Constantly Risking Absurdity (#15)

By Lawrence Ferlinghetti b. 1919 Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Constantly risking absurdity
                                             and death
            whenever he performs
                                        above the heads
                                                            of his audience
   the poet like an acrobat
                                 climbs on rime
                                          to a high wire of his own making
and balancing on eyebeams
                                     above a sea of faces
             paces his way
                               to the other side of day
    performing entrechats
                               and sleight-of-foot tricks
and other high theatrics
                               and all without mistaking
                     any thing
                               for what it may not be

       For he's the super realist
                                     who must perforce perceive
                   taut truth
                                 before the taking of each stance or step
in his supposed advance
                                  toward that still higher perch
where Beauty stands and waits
                                     with gravity
                                                to start her death-defying leap

      And he
             a little charleychaplin man
                                           who may or may not catch
               her fair eternal form
                                     spreadeagled in the empty air
                  of existence

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, "Constantly Risking Absurdity (#15)" from A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems. Copyright 1958 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1958)

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Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti b. 1919

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Beat

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, Poetry & Poets

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 . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, Poetry & Poets

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Beat

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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