Autorem manifestu jest Steve Kaufmann – poliglota znający 10 języków. Manifest ten przedstawia właściwe podejście do nauki angielskiego. Można traktować go jako pozytywną afirmację, która poprzez powtarzanie zacznie pozytywnie wpływać na nasz umysł i pomoże nam szybciej opanować język angielski.
Have you tried to learn another language ? How did it go? Are you still afraid to speak that language? Please study this and repeat it to yourself daily.
I can be FLUENT. My goal is to be FLUENT. My goal is not to be perfect. My goal is just to be FLUENT. I can be FLUENT and still make mistakes.
I need to make a fresh start. I will not think of rules of grammar. I will forget about quizzes and tests. I will forget all the times I made mistakes. I will forget about my native language. I will forget who I am. I will become a new person, speaking a new language. I will have fun with the language. I will focus on enjoying myself. That is how I will learn to become FLUENT. I know I can do it.
I know how I will learn. I will listen often, every day. I will let myself go. I will listen in the morning and listen at night. I will listen and let the language enter my mind. I will choose content that I like to listen to, where the voice is pleasant. I will listen to the sounds and the rhythm of the language. I will listen to the words and the phrases but I will not worry about what I do not understand. I will continue listening and enjoying the language. I will take my listening with me on the bus, on walks and even when I do other chores. Listening will help to make me FLUENT.
I will read what I am listening to. This will help me to understand. Sometimes what I read will be full of words and phrases that I do not know. I will save these and review them regularly. It does not matter that I quickly forget the meaning of these new words and phrase. If I keep listening, reading and reviewing them, they will eventually become a part of me. Sometimes I will read easy content where I know most of the words. I will do this for fun, and because it is helping the language become natural to me. Reading will help me to become FLUENT.
As I continue listening and reading, I will understand more and more of the language, naturally. This gives me a sense of achievement and power, as my brain gets used to the new language. This will encourage me to continue. It is important to continue, with energy and enthusiasm. It takes months to get used to a new language. It takes months to become FLUENT.
I am patient. I do not mind spending the time to become FLUENT in the new language because I enjoy doing it. I know that as I notice more and more words and phrases, I will be able to understand more and more of what I hear and read. If I understand what I hear and read, I will soon be able to speak and write. Until I can understand what I hear and read, I will not be able to speak and write well. But there is no hurry.
Even if I do not understand everything, I can practice repeating what I hear. I can repeat words, imitating the sounds. I can repeat phrases and sentences, imitating the rhythm. I can even read out loud. It does not matter that my pronunciation is not yet natural. Just repeating and reading out loud will help me to hear the sounds of the language and make me more comfortable. Gradually my pronunciation will improve and I will be able to speak with confidence and become FLUENT.
I will never say that I am no good. When I read and listen I will tell myself “nice going”, even if there are always some parts that are not clear. When I try to pronounce the new language and still make mistakes, I will not care. I know that I am improving, naturally. I will always be nice to myself. I will try not to be nervous. If I make a mistake I will say “never mind”. If I forget a word I will say “never mind.” If I have trouble saying what I want to say, I will tell myself ” no problem”. I will continue until I am FLUENT.
Czy próbowałeś uczyć innego języka? Jak to szło? Czy wciąż obawiasz się mówić tym językiem? Przestudiuj to proszę i powtarzaj do siebie codziennie.
Mogę być biegły. Moim celem jest być biegłym. Moim celem nie jest bycie prefekcyjnym . Moim celem jest tylko być biegłym. Mogę być biegły i wciąż robić błędy.
Potrzebuję zacząć od samego początku. Nie będę myślał o regułach gramatycznych.
Zapomnę o quizach i testach. Zapomne wszystkie moje pomyłki. Zapomnę mój naturalny język. Zapomnę kim jestem. Stanę się nowym człowiekiem , mówiącym nowym językiem. Będę miał zabawę z językiem. Skupię się na rozrywce. Tak będę się uczył żeby stać się biegłym. Wiem ,że mogę to zrobić.
Wiem jak będę się uczył. Będę słuchał często, każdego dnia. Rozluźnię się. Będę słuchał w dzień i w nocy. Będę słuchał i pozwolę językowi wejść do mojego umysłu. Wybiorę treści które lubię słuchać , gdzie głos jest przyjemny. Będę słuchał dżwięków i rytmów języka. Będę słuchał słów i fraz ,ale nie będę się martwił tym czego nie rozumiem. Nadal będę słuchał i cieszył się językiem . Będę słuchał w autobusie , na spacerze i nawet podczas wykonywanie innych obowiązków. Słuchanie pomoże mi stać się biegłym.
Będę czytał to co słucham. To pomoże mi w zrozumieniu. Czasami to co przeczytam będzie pełne słów i fraz których nie znam. Zachowam je i będę powtarzał regularnie. To nie ma znaczenia ,że szybko zapominam znaczenie nowych słów i fraz. Jeśli będę kontynuował słuchanie, czytanie i powtarzanie ich , one w końcu staną się częścią mnie. Czasem przeczytam łatwą treść w której znam większość słów. Zrobię to dla zabawy ,oraz ponieważ to pomoże żeby język stał się dla mnie naturalny. Czytanie pomoże mi stać się biegłym.
W miarę jak będę kontynuował słuchanie i czytanie będę rozumiał coraz więcej naturalnie. To da mi poczucie osiągnięcia sukcesu i mocy , gdy mój umysł przyzwyczai się do nowego języka. To zachęci mnie do kontynuacji nauki. Jest ważne żeby kontynuować z energią i entuzjazmem. Przyzwyczajenie się do nowego języka zajmuje miesiące. To zajmuje miesiące żeby stać się biegłym.
Jestem cierpliwy. Nie mam nic przeciwko poświęceniu dużo czasu na to żeby stać się biegłym ponieważ lubię to robić. Wiem ,że gdy zauważam coraz więcej słów i fraz, będę w stanie zrozumieć coraz więcej z tego co usłyszałem i przeczytałem. Jeśli zrozumiem to co przeczytałem i usłyszałem wkrótce będę w stanie mówić i pisać. Dopóki nie zrozumiem co usłyszałem i przeczytałem nie będę w stanie dobrze mówić i pisać. Ale nie ma pośpiechu.
Nawet jeśli nie rozumiem wszystkiego mogę powtarzać to co usłyszałem. Mogę powtarzać słowa imitując dźwięki . Mogę powtarzać frazy i zdania , imitując rytmy. Mogę nawet czytać na głos głośno. To nie ważne ,że moja wymowa nie jest jeszcze naturalna. Tylko powtarzanie i czytanie na głos pomoże mi usłyszeć brzmienie języka i sprawi ,że będę bardziej komfortowo mówił. Stopniowo moja wymowa poprawi się i będę w stanie mówić pewny siebie i stane się biegłym.
Nigdy nie powiem ,że nie jestem dobry. Kiedy czytam i słucham mówię do siebie „ nieżle idzie” , nawet jeśli zawsze jest jakaś część która nie jest klarowna. Kiedy próbuje wymawiać słowa w obcym języku i wciąż robię błędy , nie dbam o to. Wiem ,że poprawię się naturalnie. Zawsze będę miły dla siebie. Będę się starał nie być nerwowy. Jeśli zrobię błąd powiem sobie „nieważne”. Jeśli zapomnę słowo ,powiem „nieważne”. Jeśli mam problem mówiąc to co chcę , powiem sobie „ nie ma problemu” . Będę kontynuował zanim nie będę biegły.
Zaufam sobie. Będę pewny siebie. Będę traktował się z szacunkiem. Potrzebuję tylko kontynuować , nie ważne co. Im więcej słucham i czytam, im więcej studiuje frazy i słowa , im więcej powtarzam, im więcej lubię język, tym szybciej będę biegły. Wiem że osiągne sukces. Ufam sobie i ufam metodzie Linguist.
Angielski artykuł pochodzi z serwisu do nauki angielskiego lingq
|The finals of the National Poetry Contest last year came down to two finalists. One was a Duke University Law School graduate from an upper crust family; well-bred, well-connected, and all that goes with it. The other finalist was a red-neck from Southeast Tennessee A & M. The rules of the contest required each finalist to compose a four-line poem in one minute or less and the poem had to contain the word “Timbuktu”. The Duke graduate went first. About thirty seconds after the clock started, he jumped up and recited the following poem:
Slowly across the desert sand
The audience went wild!! How, they wondered could the red neck top that?! The clock started again and the red neck sat in silent thought. Finally, in the last few seconds, he jumped and recited:
Tim and me, a-huntin’ went.
“Mike, you’re the proud father of a fine strapping boy.” “Saints be praised, I…” Before Mike can finish the Doctor interrupts, “Wait a minute. Hold the lantern, Mike.” Soon the doctor delivers the next child. “You’ve a full set now, Mike. A beautiful baby daughter.”
“Thanks be to…”
Again the Doctor cuts in, “Hold the lantern, Mike, Hold the lantern!” Soon the Doctor delivers a third child. The doctor
holds up the baby for Mike’s inspection.
“Doctor,” asks Mike, “Do you think it’s the light that’s attracting them?”
From the back of the hall a Scottish voice shouted, “I’ll give £150!”
“That’s easy” says the other one. “In capitalism man exploits man! In communism it is the other way around!”
The English says “WOW! Did that happen to you?” and the Irishman replies “No, but it happened to my sister.”
by David Doughan
J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biographical Sketch
Ofer middangeard monnum sended
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, Beren, 1892-1973
George Allen and Unwin, London, 1981.
George Allen and Unwin, London, 1983.
George Allen and Unwin, London, 1977.
George Allen and Unwin, London, 1978.
source: Tolkien Society
We Wish You a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas;
We wish you a Merry Christmas;
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Good tidings we bring to you and your kin;
Good tidings for Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer: Refrain
We won’t go until we get some;
We won’t go until we get some;
We won’t go until we get some, so bring some out here: Refrain
We wish you a Merry Christmas;
We wish you a Merry Christmas;
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
John Keats (1795-1821), major English poet, despite his early death from tuberculosis at the age of 25. Keats’s poetry describes the beauty of the natural world and art as the vehicle for his poetic imagination. His skill with poetic imagery and sound reproduces this sensuous experience for his reader. Keats’s poetry evolves over his brief career from this love of nature and art into a deep compassion for humanity. He gave voice to the spirit of Romanticism in literature when he wrote, “I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart’s affections, and the truth of imagination.” Twentieth-century poet T. S. Eliot judged Keats’s letters to be ‘the most notable and the most important ever written by any English Poet,” for their acute reflections on poetry, poets, and the imagination.
Keats was born in north London, England. He was the eldest son of Thomas Keats, who worked at a livery stable, and Frances (Jennings) Keats. The couple had three other sons, one of whom died in infancy, and a daughter. Thomas Keats died in 1804, as a result of a riding accident. Frances Keats died in 1810 of tuberculosis, the disease that also took the lives of her three sons.
From 1803 to 1811 Keats attended school. Toward the end of his schooling, he began to read widely and even undertook a prose translation of the Aeneid from the Latin. After he left school at the age of 16, Keats was apprenticed to a surgeon for four years. During this time his interest in poetry grew. He wrote his first poems in 1814 and passed his medical and druggist examinations in 1816.
|III||LIFE AS A POET|
In May 1816 Keats published his first poem, the sonnet ‘O Solitude,’ marking the beginning of his poetic career. In writing a sonnet, a 14-line poem with a strict rhyme scheme, Keats sought to take his place in the tradition established by great classical, European, and British epic poets. The speaker of this poem first expresses hope that, if he is to be alone, it will be in “Nature’s Observatory”; he then imagines the “highest bliss” to be writing poetry in nature rather than simply observing nature. In another sonnet published the same year, ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer,’ Keats compares reading translations of poetry to awe-inspiring experiences such as an astronomer discovering a new planet or explorers first seeing the Pacific Ocean. In “Sleep and Poetry,” a longer poem from 1816, Keats articulates the purpose of poetry as he sees it: “To soothe the cares, and lift the thoughts of man.” Within a year of his first publications Keats had abandoned medicine, turned exclusively to writing poetry, and entered the mainstream of contemporary English poets. By the end of 1816 he had met poet and journalist Leigh Hunt, editor of the literary magazine that published his poems. He had also met the leading romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley.
“Endymion,” written between April and November 1817 and published the following year, is thought to be Keats’s richest although most unpolished poem. In the poem, the mortal hero Endymion’s quest for the goddess Cynthia serves as a metaphor for imaginative longing—the poet’s quest for a muse, or divine inspiration.
Following “Endymion,” Keats struggled with his assumptions about the power of poetry and philosophy to affect the suffering he saw in life. In June of 1818, Keats went on a physically demanding walking tour of England’s Lake District and Scotland, perhaps in search of inspiration for an epic poem. His journey was cut short by the illness of his brother Tom. Keats returned home and nursed his brother through the final stages of tuberculosis. He threw himself into writing the epic “Hyperion,” he wrote to a friend, to ease himself of Tom’s “countenance, his voice and feebleness.’
An epic is a long narrative poem about a worthy hero, written in elevated language; this was the principal form used by great poets before Keats. The subject of “Hyperion” is the fall of the primeval Greek gods, who are dethroned by the Olympians, a newer order of gods led by Apollo. Keats used this myth to represent history as the story of how grief and misery teach humanity compassion. The poem ends with the transformation of Apollo into the god of poetry, but Keats left the poem unfinished. His abandonment of the poem suggests that Keats was ready to return to a more personal theme: the growth of a poet’s mind. Keats later described the poem as showing ‘false beauty proceeding from art’ rather than ‘the true voice of feeling.’ Tom’s death in December 1818 may have freed Keats from the need to finish “Hyperion.”
Two other notable developments took place in Keats’s life in the latter part of 1818. First, “Endymion,” published in April, received negative reviews by the leading literary magazines. Second, Keats fell in love with spirited, 18-year-old Fanny Brawne. Keats’s passion for Fanny Brawne is perhaps evoked in ‘The Eve of St. Agnes,’ written in 1819 and published in 1820. In this narrative poem, a young man follows an elaborate plan to woo his love and wins her heart.
Keats’s great creative outpouring came in April and May of 1819, when he composed a group of five odes. The loose formal requirements of the ode—a regular metrical pattern and a shift in perspective from stanza to stanza—allowed Keats to follow his mind’s associations. Literary critics rank these works among the greatest short poems in the English language. Each ode begins with the speaker focusing on something—a nightingale, an urn, the goddess Psyche, the mood of melancholy, the season of autumn—and arrives at his greater insight into what he values.
In “Ode to a Nightingale,” the nightingale’s song symbolizes the beauty of nature and art. Keats was fascinated by the difference between life and art: Human beings die, but the art they make lives on. The speaker in the poem tries repeatedly to use his imagination to go with the bird’s song, but each time he fails to completely forget himself. In the sixth stanza he suddenly remembers what death means, and the thought of it frightens him back to earth and his own humanity.
In ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn,’ the bride and bridegroom painted on the Grecian urn do not die. Their love can never fade, but neither can they kiss and embrace. At the end of the poem, the speaker sees the world of art as cold rather than inviting.
The last two odes, ‘Ode on Melancholy’ and ‘To Autumn,” show a turn in Keats’s ideas about life and art. He celebrates “breathing human passion” as more beautiful than either art or nature.
Keats never lived to write the poetry of ‘the agonies, the strife of human hearts’ to which he aspired. Some scholars suggest that his revision of “Hyperion,” close to the end of his life, measures what he learned about poetry. In the revision, ‘The Fall of Hyperion: A Dream,’ Keats boldly makes the earlier poem into the story of his own quest as poet. In a dream, the poem’s speaker must pass through death to enter a temple that receives only those who cannot forget the miseries of the world. Presiding over the shrine is Moneta, a prophetess whose face embodies many of the opposites that had long haunted Keats’s imagination—death and immortality, stasis and change, humankind’s goodness and darkness. The knowledge Moneta gives him defines Keats’s new mission and burden as a poet.
After September 1819, Keats produced little poetry. His money troubles, always pressing, became severe. Keats and Fanny Brawne became engaged, but with little prospect of marriage. In February 1820, Keats had a severe hemorrhage and coughed up blood, beginning a year that he called his “posthumous existence.” He did manage to prepare a third volume of poems for the press, Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems.
In September 1820, Keats sailed to Italy, accompanied by a close friend. The last months of his life there were haunted by the prospect of death and the memory of Fanny Brawne.
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), America’s best-known female poet and one of the foremost authors in American literature. Dickinson’s simply constructed yet intensely felt, acutely intellectual writings take as their subject issues vital to humanity: the agonies and ecstasies of love, sexuality, the unfathomable nature of death, the horrors of war, God and religious belief, the importance of humor, and musings on the significance of literature, music, and art.
Born in Amherst, Massachusetts, Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was the middle child of a prominent lawyer and one-term United States congressional representative, Edward Dickinson, and his wife, Emily Norcross Dickinson. From 1840 to 1847 she attended the Amherst Academy, and from 1847 to 1848 she studied at the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (now Mount Holyoke College) in South Hadley, a few miles from Amherst. With the exception of a trip to Washington, D.C., in the late 1850s and a few trips to Boston for eye treatments in the early 1860s, Dickinson remained in Amherst, living in the same house on Main Street from 1855 until her death. During her lifetime, she published only about 10 of her nearly 2,000 poems, in newspapers, Civil War journals, and a poetry anthology. The first volume of Poems of Emily Dickinson, edited by Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd, was published in 1890, after Dickinson’s death.
The notion that Dickinson was extremely reclusive is a popular one, but it is at best a partial truth. Dickinson’s first editors molded their descriptions of her and her work to conform to 19th-century stereotypes of women writers and to downplay qualities that did not match the conventional conception. Popular depictions of Dickinson, as in the play The Belle of Amherst (1976), have perpetuated a belief that she always dressed in white, was sensitive and reclusive in nature, and had an unrequited or secret love. Although she never married and certainly became more selective over the years about the company she kept, Dickinson was far more sociable than most descriptions would have us believe. She frequently entertained guests at her home and at the home of her brother and sister-in-law during her 20s and 30s; one friend commented that Dickinson was so surrounded by friends at a party that she had no chance to talk with her. In addition, Dickinson kept up a voluminous correspondence with friends, family, and one of her spiritual mentors, minister Charles Wadsworth. Although it has long been believed that various correspondents, including Higginson and editor Samuel Bowles, served as literary guides, there is no evidence that they influenced her writing.
Biographers are increasingly recognizing the vital role of Dickinson’s sister-in-law, Susan Dickinson, in her writing. For more than 35 years the two women lived next door to each other, sharing mutual passions for literature, music, cooking, and gardening. Emily sent Susan more than 400 poems and letter-poems, twice as many as she sent to any other correspondent. Susan also is the only person at whose behest Dickinson actually changed a poem; in response to Susan’s criticism, Dickinson wrote four different second stanzas to “Safe in their Alabaster Chambers.” Evidence has also surfaced that Susan participated in the writing of many poems with Emily, and Susan was probably responsible for the few printings Emily Dickinson saw of her poems during her lifetime. In 1998 Open Me Carefully: Emily Dickinson’s Intimate Letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson was published, documenting the two women’s friendship.
Dickinson enjoyed the King James Version of the Bible, as well as authors such as English writers William Shakespeare, John Milton, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, George Eliot, and Thomas Carlyle. Dickinson’s early style shows the strong influence of Barrett Browning, Scottish poet Robert Browning, and English poets John Keats and George Herbert.
Dickinson often used variations of meters common in hymn writing, especially iambic tetrameter (eight syllables per line, with every second syllable being stressed). She frequently employed off-rhymes. Examples of off-rhymes include ocean with noon and seam with swim in the lines “Than Oars divide the Ocean, / Too silver for a seam — / Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon / Leap, plashless as they swim” from the poem “A Bird came down the Walk.” Dickinson used common language in startling ways, a strategy called defamiliarization. This technique would, as she put it, “distill amazing sense / From ordinary Meanings” and from “familiar species.” Her poem “A Bird came down the Walk” also illustrates her use of defamiliarization: “A Bird came down the Walk— /…drank a Dew / …stirred his Velvet Head” and then “unrolled his feathers / And rowed him softer home” while “Butterflies” leap “off Banks of Noon.” Dickinson’s short poetic lines, condensed by using intense metaphors and by extensive use of ellipsis (the omission of words understood to be there), contrasted sharply with the style of her contemporary Walt Whitman, who used long lines, little rhyme, and irregular rhythm in his poetry.
In the early stages of her career, Dickinson’s handwritten lyrics imitated the formalities of print, and her poetic techniques were conventional, but she later began to attend to the visual aspects of her work. For example, she arranged and broke lines of verse in highly unusual ways to underscore meaning and she created extravagantly shaped letters of the alphabet to emphasize or play with a poem’s sense. She also incorporated cutouts from novels, magazines, and even the Bible to augment her own use of language.
Although few of Dickinson’s poems were formally published during her lifetime, she herself “published” by sending out at least one-third of her poems in the more than 1,000 letters she wrote to at least 100 different correspondents. The recipients included writer Helen Hunt Jackson, who later published Dickinson’s “Success is counted sweetest” in the volume A Masque of Poets (1878), and Elizabeth Holland, whose husband was an editor at Charles Scribner’s Sons, a prominent publishing company. Dickinson’s method of binding about 800 of her poems into 40 manuscript books and distributing several hundred of them in letters is now widely recognized as her particular form of self-publication. She also read her poems aloud to several people, including her cousins Louise and Frances Norcross, over a period of three decades.
Editions of Dickinson’s writings include The Poems of Emily Dickinson (3 volumes, 1955), The Letters of Emily Dickinson (3 volumes, 1958), and The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson (2 volumes, 1981).
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be
greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career
it is a real possession in the
changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you
to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit
to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham,
drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
What’s your life credo ?
( write 250 – 300 words…) I’m only joking.
Declaration of Independence
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one
people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with
another, and to assume, among the Powers of the earth, the separate
and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God
entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires
that they should declare the causes which impel them to the
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of
Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted
among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the
governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of
these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it,
and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such
principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall
seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence,
indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be
changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience
hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are
sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which
they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations,
pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them
under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to
throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future
security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies;
and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their
former Systems of Government.
The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of
repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the
establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove
this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary
for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing
importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should
be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large
districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of
Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and
formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual,
uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public
Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with
manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause
others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of
Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise;
the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of
invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that
purpose obstructing the Laws of Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing
to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the
conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his
Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of
their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of
Officers to harass our People, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the
Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to
the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to
our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to
their Acts of pretended legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders
which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring
Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging
its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit
instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and
altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested
with Power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his
Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and
destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to
compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun
with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the
most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy of the Head of a civilized
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas
to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of
their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured
to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian
Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished
destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in
the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only
by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every
act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free
Nor have We been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We
have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to
extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them
of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have
appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured
them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations,
which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence.
They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity.
We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our
Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in
War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in
General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the
world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the
Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and
declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free
and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to
the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and
the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and
that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War,
conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all
other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And
for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the
Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our
Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
A Hot Cross bunny.
Thistle have to do!
Well you never see a bunny wearing glasses, do you?
What did the grey rabbit say to the blue rabbit?
It has 4 rabbits’ feet.
One is bad money and the other is a mad bunny!
A pip squeak.
Join the Hare Force.
A bunny laughing its head off.
Make it wait for 3 hours!.
You get a ‘hare-brained’ Jackyl!
To the hare-after.
A crying bunny!
Is it true that bunnies have good eyesight? Well you never see a bunny wearing glasses, do you?
Who’s there ?
Mary who ?
Mary Christmas !
What did one Angel say to the other ?
Halo there !
How to cats greet each other at Christmas ?
“A furry merry Christmas & Happy mew year” !
What do elephants sing at Christmas ?
No-elephants, no elephants !
What does Dracula write on his Christmas cards ?
Best vicious of the season
What do angry mice send to each other at Christmas ?
Cross mouse cards !
How do sheep greet each other at Christmas ?
A merry Christmas to ewe
What does Father Christmas write on his Christmas cards ?
ABCDEFGHIJKMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ (No-L !!) !
Tongue Twisters – czyli krótkie wierszyki bardzo trudne do wymówienia dla rodowitego anglika, przekonaj się sam:
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
Did Peter Piper pick a peck of pickled peppers?
If Peter Piper Picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
The shells she sells are surely seashells.
So if she sells shells on the seashore,
I’m sure she sells seashore shells.
Which wristwatches are Swiss wristwatches?
If a woodchuck could chuck wood?
He would chuck, he would, as much as he could,
And chuck as much as a woodchuck would
If a woodchuck could chuck wood.
“But,” she said, “this butter’s bitter.
If I bake this bitter butter,
It would make my batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter,
That would make my batter better.”
So she bought a bit of butter –
Better than her bitter butter –
And she baked it in her batter;
And the batter was not bitter.
So ’twas better Betty Botter
Bought a bit of better butter.
So it is better to be Shott than Nott.
Some say Nott was not shot.
But Shott says he shot Nott.
Either the shot Shott shot at Nott was not shot,
Or Nott was shot.
If the shot Shott shot shot Nott, Nott was shot.
But if the shot Shott shot shot Shott,
Then Shott was shot, not Nott.
However, the shot Shott shot shot not Shott, but Nott.
Who lived up in a tree.
He was a two-toed tree-toad,
But a three-toed toad was she.
The two-toed tree-toad tried to win
The three-toed she-toad’s heart,
For the two-toed tree-toad loved the ground
That the three-toed tree-toad trod.
But the two-toed tree-toad tried in vain;
He couldn’t please her whim.
From her tree-toad bower,
With her three-toed power,
The she-toad vetoed him.
And Mr. Soar owned a seesaw.
Now, See’s saw sawed Soar’s seesaw
Before Soar saw See,
Which made Soar sore.
Had Soar seen See’s saw
Before See sawed Soar’s seesaw,
See’s saw would not have sawed
So See’s saw sawed Soar’s seesaw.
But it was sad to see Soar so sore
just because See’s saw sawed
but the stump thunk the skunk stunk.
Did Peter Piper pick a peck of pickled peppers?
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
“But,” she said, “this butter’s bitter.
If I bake this bitter butter,
it would make my batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter–
that would make my batter better.”
better than her bitter butter,
and she baked it in her batter,
and the batter was not bitter.
So ’twas better Betty Botter
bought a bit of better butter.
made the big black bear bleed blood.
Two smart fellows, they felt smart.
Three smart fellows, they all felt smart.
The shells she sells are surely seashells.
So if she sells shells on the seashore,
I’m sure she sells seashore shells.
“Someone should show Sylvia some strokes so she shall not sink.”
tried to tutor two tooters to toot.
Said the two to their tutor,
“Is it harder to toot
or to tutor two tooters to toot?”
I’m the pheasant plucker’s mate.
I am only plucking pheasants
’cause the pheasant plucker’s running late.
Said the flea, “Let us fly!”
Said the fly, “Let us flee!”
So they flew through a flaw in the flue.
Bit a better brother bittern,
And the bitter better bittern
Bit the bitter biter back.
And the bitter bittern, bitten,
By the better bitten bittern,
Said: “I’m a bitter biter bit, alack!”
And Mr. Soar owned a seesaw.
Now See’s saw sawed Soar’s seesaw
Before Soar saw See,
Which made Soar sore.
Had Soar seen See’s saw
Before See sawed Soar’s seesaw,
See’s saw would not have sawed
So See’s saw sawed Soar’s seesaw.
But it was sad to see Soar so sore
Just because See’s saw sawed
Bear down upon a hare.
When bare of hair he strips the hare,
Right there I cry, “Forbear!”
For kneading of noodles, ’twere needless, you see;
But did my neat knickers but need to be kneed,
I then should have need of your needles indeed.
if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
He would chuck, he would, as much as he could,
and chuck as much wood as a woodchuck would
if a woodchuck could chuck wood.
back some rubber baby-buggy bumpers.
My dame hath a crane that is lame.
Who lived up in a tree.
He was a two-toed tree toad
But a three-toed toad was she.
The two-toed tree toad tried to win
The three-toed she-toad’s heart,
For the two-toed tree toad loved the ground
That the three-toed tree toad trod.
But the two-toed tree toad tried in vain.
He couldn’t please her whim.
From her tree toad bower
With her three-toed power
The she-toad vetoed him.
The seven silly sheep Silly Sally shooed
These sheep shouldn’t sleep in a shack;
sheep should sleep in a shed.
Gray were the geese and green was the grass.
On a light night like tonight,
For a night-light’s light’s a slight light,
And tonight’s a night that’s light.
When a night’s light, like tonight’s light,
It is really not quite right
To light night-lights with their slight lights
On a light night like tonight.
Say this shortly, say this softly.
Say this sixteen times in succession.
choose the shoes he chews?
should such shabby stitches show.
I never felt a piece of felt
which felt as fine as that felt felt,
when first I felt that felt hat’s felt.
Swim, swan, swim!
Swan swam back again
Well swum, swan!
But the thought I thought wasn’t the thought
I thought I thought.
as the sunshine shone on the side of the shot-silk sash shop.
slickly snared six sickly silky snakes.
socks and shoes shines Susan.
She ceased shining shoes and socks,
for shoes and socks shock Susan.
For the twisting of his twist, he three twines doth intwist;
But if one of the twines of the twist do untwist,
The twine that untwisteth untwisteth the twist.
He twirls, with his twister, the two in a twine;
Then twice having twisted the twines of the twine,
He twitcheth the twice he had twined in twain.
As twines were intwisted he now doth untwine;
Twist the twain inter-twisting a twine more between,
He, twirling his twister, makes a twist of the twine.
and twiceth the seething seas sufficeth us.
who doctors the doctor doctor the doctor the way the
doctor he is doctoring doctors? Or does he doctor
the doctor the way the doctor who doctors doctors?
to have truck to truck two trucks of truck.
a drip-drape, ship-shape, tip-top sock.
wash Washington’s windows with warm washing water.
with a lump of raw liver.
where a plaice is pleased to be placed.
he saw me, and she saw I saw Esau.
with stoutest wrists and loudest boasts,
he thrusts his fist against the posts
and still insists he sees the ghosts.
with bloody, blameful blade,
he bravely broached his boiling bloody breast.
imagining managing an imaginary menagerie?
and longed to lure him from his laboratory.
inexplicably mimicing him hiccupping,
and amicably welcoming him home.
and two we find before.
We stand behind before we find
what those behind be for.
Two-Two was one, too.
When One-One won one race,
Two-Two won one, too.
for if you pass proficiently,
perhaps you’ll play professionally.
There dwelt a bear, also a boar.
The bear could not bear the boar.
The boar thought the bear a bore.
At last the bear could bear no more
Of that boar that bored him on the moor,
And so one morn he bored the boar–
That boar will bore the bear no more.
To talk ere the tot could totter,
Ought the Hottenton tot
Be taught to say aught, or naught,
Or what ought to be taught her?
If to hoot and to toot a Hottentot tot
Be taught by her Hottentot tutor,
Ought the tutor get hot
If the Hottentot tot
Hoot and toot at her Hottentot tutor?
when Washington’s washer woman went west?
was the saw I saw saw in Arkansas.
All she does is sits and shifts,
All she does is sits and shifts.
and Sam Shott was not.
So it is better to be Shott
Some say Nott
was not shot.
But Shott says
he shot Nott.
Either the shot Shott shot at Nott
was not shot,
Nott was shot.
If the shot Shott shot shot Nott,
Nott was shot.
But if the shot Shott shot shot Shott,
then Shott was shot,
the shot Shott shot shot not Shott —
Who fished for a fish in a fissure.
The fish with a grin,
Pulled the fisherman in;
Now they’re fishing the fissure for Fischer.
The cotton batten cat was bitten by a rat.
The kitten that was bitten had a button for an eye,
And biting off the button made the cotton batten fly.
Swam silently southward,
Seeing six swift sailboats
Sailing sedately seaward.
It’s slick to stick a lock upon your stock,
Or some stickler who is slicker
Will stick you of your liquor
If you fail to lock your liquor
With a lock!
in sifting a sieve full of un-sifted thistles,
thrust three thousand thistles through the thick of his thumb.
in sifting a sieve full of un-sifted thistles,
thrust three thousand thistles through the thick of his thumb,
see that thou, in sifting a sieve full of un-sifted thistles,
thrust not three thousand thistles through the thick of thy thumb.
blunderbusses, and bludgeons — balancing them badly.
volume of valuable licenses and coupons for free theatrical frills and thrills.
That Emily Dickinson published almost no poems while she was alive yet became enormously popular when her first book appeared four years after her death is a well known fact.1 The 1890 volume went through eleven printings and led to a Second Series in 1891 and a Third Series in 1896; an edition of her letters appeared in 1894 (Sewall 707, n.1). Today she and Walt Whitman are generally regarded as the two greatest American poets of the nineteenth century. In Jungian terms, she is a “visionary” artist who compensates for collective psychic imbalance through an archetypal vision of another possibility (see Snider 6-7). What Jung says of visionary literature clearly applies to the best of Dickinson’s work:
[. . .] it can be a revelation whose heights and depths are beyond our fathoming, or a vision of beauty which we can never put into words. [. . .] the primordial experiences rend from top to bottom the curtain upon which is painted the picture of an ordered world, and allow a glimpse into the unfathomable abyss of the unborn and of things yet to be. (“Psychology and Literature” 90).2
Something in her psyche drove her to probe those “heights and depths,” which were often beyond her own fathoming. This something Jung calls an “innate drive” (ibid. 101), and I believe that the archetype she chiefly represents and is driven by is shamanism.
Not a shaman in the traditional sense as described by Mircea Eliade in his classic, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, Dickinson nevertheless fits Joan B. Townsend’s description of neo-shamans as people “often disenchanted with traditional religions and often with much of Western society. Although they tend not to be affiliated with any organized religion, they all continue intensive personal quests for spirituality, meaning, and transcendence” (78). Her personal quest–her personal myth as expressed in her poetry–compensates for contemporary imbalance through a search for meaning in the face of the breakdown of collective myths. Had she lived in another era and been associated with a religion or belief system that included shamans, no doubt Dickinson would have been a shaman in the traditional sense, for she is concerned about the same mysteries that concern shamans and investigates these mysteries using the imagery of shamanism. These mysteries include death and the afterlife, as well as suffering, loss, and healing.
The word “shaman” comes from the Siberian Tungus tribe ( Harner 7); and, according to Eliade, “Shamanism in the strict sense is pre-eminently a religious phenomenon of Siberia and Central Asia.” Although he or she is not, strictly speaking, either one, the shaman has traits similar to the magician and medicine man, but “beyond this, he is a psychopomp, and he may also be priest, mystic, and poet” (4). Because it is an archetype, shamanism is not limited to Siberia and Central Asia. It is a world-wide phenomenon with roots in the Paleolithic period. Joan Halifax comments on the fact that “Shamanic knowledge is remarkably consistent across the planet”; further, “the basic themes related to the art and practice of shamanism form a coherent complex” (5).3 An examination of Dickinson’s poetry will demonstrate the American poet’s close relationship to the shamanic state of mind.
Eliade was among the first to link shamanism to the creation of lyric poetry: “It is [. . .] probable that the pre-ecstatic euphoria [of the shaman] constituted one of the universal sources of lyric poetry.” Furthermore, “Poetic creation still remains an act of perfect spiritual freedom. Poetry remakes and prolongs language; every poetic language begins by being a secret language, that is, the creation of a personal universe, of a completely closed world.” Eliade’s assessment of course applies to any great poet, but it applies especially to Dickinson. He continues: “The purest poetic act seems to re-create language from an inner experience that, like the ecstasy or the religious inspiration of ‘primitives,’ reveals the essence of things” (510). That Dickinson has her own “language,” her own poetic vocabulary that probes her “inner experience” and creates a “personal universe,” is clear to any perceptive reader.
In Jungian terms, she has created her own personal myth. Inspired by other poets such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning (“I think I was enchanted / When first a sombre Girl– / I read that Foreign Lady– / The Dark–felt beautiful–” 593; all numbers refer to the numbers assigned to poems in Johnson’s The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson), Emily Dickinson created her own inimitable poetry. She had, indeed, what she disclaimed having: “A privilege so awful / What would the Dower be, / Had I the Art to stun myself / With Bolts of Melody!” (505).
Here is her definition of a poet:
This was a Poet–It is That
Distills amazing sense
From ordinary Meanings–
And Attar so immense
From the familiar species
That perished by the Door–
We wonder it was not Ourselves
Of Pictures, the Discloser–
The Poet–it is He–
Entitles Us–by Contrast–
To ceaseless Poverty–
Of Portion –so unconscious–
The Robbing–could not harm–
Himself–to Him–a Fortune–
Exterior–to Time– (448)
The high value she places on poetry she reveals in the poem that begins “I reckon–when I count at all–” First she counts poets, then the sun and summer, and she adds:
But, looking back–the First so seems
To comprehend the Whole–
The Others look a needless Show–
So I write–Poets–All–
Their Summer–lasts a Solid Year–
They can afford a Sun
The East–would deem extravagant–
And if the Further Heaven–
Be Beautiful as they prepare
For Those who worship Them–
It is too difficult a Grace–
To justify the Dream– (569)
Dickinson in both these poems affirms Eliade’s belief that lyric poetry “reveals the essence of things.”
Living in the middle of the nineteenth century, Dickinson, a product of New England Puritanism, rejected membership in the church and the conversion offered by the many religious revivals that descended on her home town of Amherst, Massachusetts, in her early years (Sewall 24). Still, she was troubled by such Puritan ideas as “Divine immanence, providential history, the Whole Duty of Man; the sense of being Chosen, or Elected; the idea of Redemption” (Sewall 25). Most important of all, the issue of immortality, what she called her “Flood subject,” haunts her poetry and letters (see Sewall 26). It is, one might say, a shamanic issue–what happens after death.
She lived in an age when the secular spirit was on the rise. If Holger Kalweit, a contemporary expert on shamanism, can write that today “the one-eyed paradigm of materialism is in a state of decline” (20), in Dickinson’s day just the opposite was true. She was a student of science and observed the world with the eye of a scientist:
“Faith” is a fine invention
When Gentlemen can see–
But Microscopes are prudent
In an Emergency. (185)
Yet she would probably not argue with Michael Harner’s observation that “shamans say that we need to talk to plants and trees, animals, and rocks because our lives and our spirits are connected with theirs. In shamanic cultures all things are seen to be interrelated and interdependent [. . .] everything that exists is alive” (10). Although nature can be the “blonde Assassin” that beheads the “happy Flower [. . .] In accidental power” (1624), she is also a living being to be revered:
Touch lightly Nature’s sweet Guitar
Unless thou know’st the Tune
Or every Bird will point at thee
Because a Bard too soon– (1369)
Here Dickinson suggests one shouldn’t interpret nature poetically until one is qualified–initiated, as it were. In one of her most famous poems, she writes: “I taste a liquor never brewed– / From Tankards scooped in Pearl [. . .] Inebriate of Air–am I– / And Debauchee of Dew” (214). In modern parlance, she gets “high” on nature. Even a casual acquaintance with her poetry will show how intimate she feels with nature. Her intimacy is akin to what Owen Barfield calls “original participation” (40-42), the “essence” of which, Barfield says, “is that there stands behind the phenomena . . . a represented which is of the same nature as me” (42).
In a fragmentary poem she declares: “To see the Summer Sky / Is Poetry” (1472). One of the few poems to which she assigned a title (“My Cricket,” Johnson, Poems of Emily Dickinson, vol. 3, 1206), goes as follows:
Further in Summer than the Birds
Pathetic from the Grass
A minor Nation celebrates
Its unobtrusive Mass.
No Ordinance be seen
So gradual the Grace
A pensive Custom it becomes
Antiquest felt at Noon
When August burning low
Arise this spectral Canticle
Repose to typify
Remit as yet no Grace
No Furrow on the Glow
Yet a Druidic Difference
Enhances Nature now (1068)
The vocabulary of religious ritual and the reference to pre-Christian myth (“a Druidic Difference”) indicates that, like the shaman, she has recognized that nature is endowed with sacred life.
Poem 986, in which the speaker is a man, illustrates the original participation such a recognition permits:
A narrow Fellow in the Grass
You may have met Him–did you not
His notice sudden is–
The Grass divides as with a Comb–
A spotted shaft is seen–
And then it closes at your feet
And opens further on–
He likes a Boggy Acre
A Floor too cool for Corn–
Yet when a Boy, and Barefoot–
I more than once at Noon
Have passed, I thought, a Whip lash
Unbraiding in the Sun
When stooping to secure it
It wrinkled, and was gone–
Several of Nature’s People
I know, and they know me–
I feel for them a transport
But never met this Fellow
Attended, or alone
Without a tighter breathing
And Zero at the Bone–
The speaker of this poem has an intimate, spiritual relationship with nature; he feels “a transport / Of cordiality–” for “Nature’s People.” Feeling “Zero at the Bone” suggests there’s something in Dickinson’s psyche that matches or at least connects with the snake. The snake is a projection of her psyche, something she encounters on the outside that’s already inside, perhaps an extension of the animus that frightens her on account of its cold blooded ruthlessness–possibly her objectivity as an artist.
Another extraordinary snake poem illustrates my point:
In Winter in my Room
I came upon a Worm–
Pink, lank and warm–
But as he was a worm
And worms presume
Not quite with him at home–
Secured him by a string
To something neighboring
And went along.
A Trifle afterward
A thing occurred
I’d not believe it if I heard
But state with creeping blood–
A snake with mottles rare
Surveyed by chamber floor
In feature as the worm before
But ringed with power–
The very string with which
I tied him–too
When he was mean and new
That string was there–
I shrank–“How fair you are!”
“Afraid,” he hissed
He fathomed me–
Then to a Rhythm Slim
Secreted in his Form
As Patterns swim
That time I flew
Both eyes his way
Lest he pursue
Nor ever ceased to run
Till in a distant Town
Towns on from mine
I set me down
This was a dream. (1670)
The last line indicates clearly that this poem, like Whitman’s “The Sleepers,” expresses the contents of the unconscious.
On a first reading, it’s almost impossible to not interpret the poem as portraying a Freudian fear of sex. Afraid of intimacy (“cordiality”), the speaker feels more than “Zero at the Bone.” She feels a mixture of attraction (“‘How fair you are’!”) and fear (“Nor ever ceased to run”). The worm that becomes a snake is obviously sexual (the flaccid penis that becomes the erect phallus), and were the speaker clearly masculine as in “A narrow Fellow in the Grass” the implications would be even more intriguing than they are already. The worm/snake is elemental, phallic, chthonic, and the speaker at first tries to control this potent archetype, symbolic, as J. E. Cirlot writes, of “energy itself–of force pure and simple” (285). Jung points out that in Egyptian myth, “the snake, because it casts its skin, is a symbol of renewal [. . . and] a sun-symbol, which was believed to be of masculine sex only and to beget itself” (Symbols of Transformation 269). The “renewal” here is actually a transformation from a relatively harmless worm to a scary and sexy snake and a scene reminiscent of Eve’s temptation in the Garden of Eden. The snake “fathomed” the speaker as if exploring her desire and depth–physically and psychically. Sexual as he undeniably is, I suggest the snake also symbolizes Dickinson’s own latent power as a poet. Fecund, she has power to recreate herself, as does the snake (“ringed with power”) and to fathom and project as he does, and she fears this immense potential. (See Figure 1.) Because we do not know when Dickinson wrote this poem, a precisely biographical interpretation is impossible and probably, in any event, not necessary. The body of her work demonstrates that she learned to use her power and that the poet in her conquered her deeply felt fears of poetic ruthlessness by proceeding with her calling.
Fig. 1, Zuni Serpent Warrior Kachina, with Kolowisi, the horned, plumed water serpent on his head, by Steven Comosona (from the collection of Clifton Snider). Although it is doubtful Dickinson ever saw a Zuni kachina, this example illustrates the kind of ritual power her serpent poems evoke. The phallic power of the water serpent, well known in Native American mythology, most famously as the Aztec god, Quetzalcoatl, is further emphasized by its horn. The powerful double stare could easily “fathom” a persona like the speaker of poem that begins, “In Winter in my Room.”
Eliade notes that there basically are two ways of becoming a shaman: “hereditary transmission or spontaneous vocation” (21)–a call, in other words, not unlike the Puritan notion of “election.” Dickinson describes her call to become a poet thus:
Conversion of the Mind
Like Sanctifying in the Soul–
Is witnessed–not explained–
‘Twas a Divine Insanity–
The Danger to be Sane
Should I again experience–
She is recalling how her reading of Elizabeth Barrett Browning called her to poetry. She continues:
‘Tis Antidote to turn–
To Tomes of solid Witchcraft–
Magicians be asleep–
But Magic–hath an Element
Like Deity–to keep– (593)
Like the shaman, the poet is a magician, a maker of witchcraft, insane to outsiders. This idea is echoed in a well-known poem:
Much Madness is divinest Sense–
To a discerning Eye–
Much Sense –the starkest Madness–
‘Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail–
Assent–and you are sane–
Demur–you’re straightway dangerous–
And handled with a Chain– (435)
Poet Adrienne Rich comments insightfully about this poem: “It is an extremely painful and dangerous way to live–split between a publicly acceptable persona, and a part of yourself that you perceive as the essential, the creative and powerful self, yet also as possibly unacceptable, perhaps even monstrous” (175). Pain, as we shall see, is an essential part of the experience of the shaman-poet.
“The Riddle we can guess,” Dickinson writes, “We speedily despise– / Not anything is stale so long / As Yesterday’s surprise–” (1222). The riddle is one of her chief rhetorical devices, a device typical of the shaman-poet, as well as of the trickster archetype, betraying the superior knowledge that comes with the “secrets of the profession” (Eliade 17). She writes, for example, of loss without indicating quite what has been lost. Consider two poems on similar themes:
I never lost as much but twice,
And that was in the sod,
Twice have I stood a beggar
Before the door of God!
Reimbursed my store–
I am poor one more!– (49)
My life closed twice before its close–
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me
So huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.4 (1732)
Both poems are clearly about loss, and the diction (the metonymous “sod” and “Immortality”) suggests that death is responsible for the loss. The loss could also be that of a loved one or ones and the suggestion of death metaphorical. We do not know whom she has lost in either poem. It’s worth observing, also, that she’s intimate enough with God, the “Father,” to accuse Him of being a “Burglar” and a “Banker.”
The poem that begins “My Life had stood–a Loaded Gun–” also relies on the riddle but it is far more complex (William Shullenberger notes the poem gives “students the pleasure of reading a fable and solving its riddles,” 102):
My Life had stood–a Loaded Gun–
In Corners–till a Day
The Owner passed–identified–
And carried Me away–
And now We roam in Sovereign Woods–
And now We hunt the Doe–
And every time I speak for Him–
The Mountains straight reply–
And do I smile, such cordial light
Upon the Valley glow–
It is as a Vesuvian face
Had let its pleasure through–
And when at Night–Our good Day done–
I guard My Master’s Head–
‘Tis better than the Eider-Duck’s
Deep Pillow–to have shared–
To foe of His–I’m deadly foe–
None stir the second time–
On whom I lay a Yellow Eye–
Or an emphatic Thumb–
Though I than He–may longer live
He longer must–than I–
For I have but the power to kill,
Without–the power to die– (754)
This poem has elicited an amazing amount of critical comment. Rich believes it is “about possession by the daemon, about the dangers and risks of such possession if you are a woman, about the knowledge that power in a woman can seem destructive, and that you cannot live without the daemon once it has possessed you” (173). Helen McNeil believes the poem “is a definition of self as pure artistic agency” (175). The speaker of the poem, she adds, is “feminine, masculine, an object and an animal–all sexes and none, a commanding voice for the expression of knowledge” (176). Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar comment on the “Loaded Gun”:
This Gun clearly is a poet, and a Satanically ambitious poet at that. [. . .] The irony of the riddling final quatrain, moreover, hints that it is the Gun and not the Master, the poet and not her muse, who will have the last word. (609)
Judith Farr sees the poem as “primarily [. . .] an accomplished and mysterious ballad with suggestions of Elizabethan obliquity and physicality” (242). She suggests looking at the speaker by turns as a boy, then as a woman, always keeping in mind “the pleasure the speaker experiences” and that “For Dickinson, love is always the muse” (243): “She herself–the gun, the artist–can never ‘die’ like a real woman. . . She is but the arresting voice that speaks to and for the Master” (244).
Camille Paglia, as might be expected, provides the most arresting critical commentary:
The most blatant of Dickinson’s masculine self-portraits is “My Life had stood a Loaded Gun,” where she is a totem of phallic force . [. . .] The “Owner” or “Master” is only he, a pronoun. She is the real power, without which he cannot act. [. . .] This poem is one of Romanticism’s great transsexual self-transformations. [. . .] the poet is reaching for the remotest extreme of sex experience. (642-643)
That Dickinson frequently adopts a male persona is a given (see Rebecca Patterson, “Emily Dickinson’s ‘Double’ Tim”), so that Paglia’s and McNeil’s comments are in this respect not astonishing.
To add my own contribution to the welter of commentary surrounding this poem, I think it pertinent to note that the poem, like many of Dickinson’s, is a narrative, albeit told in lyrical form–that is, it is a ballad, as Farr points out. Although she is rightly known as a lyric poet, Dickinson does indeed tell stories, as does the shaman when he or she talks about out-of-body experiences and visits to the afterworld. Her subjects in the concluding stanza again include shamanic concerns: mortality and immortality. The concluding two lines (“For I have but the power to kill, / Without–the power to die–“) do indeed, as Paglia suggests, indicate the speaker may be a vampire; and in fact a shamanic method of healing is to suck blood from the person who is ill (Eliade 307), so that here we have evidence of a positive side of the vampire archetype. I tend to agree, too, that Dickinson is, at least here, an “androgyne” (Paglia 643).
This poem, as well as numerous others such as Patterson discusses in the article I cite above, presents a persona whose gender is ambiguous. To suggest, as Theodora Ward does, citing Jung as her authority, that the “image of man in woman [. . .] represents the woman’s mind” and that a “large proportion” of Dickinson’s poems bare this out (70), is, to say the least, an oversimplification and a reduction of Jung’s ideas.
Dickinson’s creative animus–and poetic persona–is more complex than that. Take, for example, the poem, “I started Early–Took my Dog–” (520). Here the speaker, apparently a female with her “Apron” and her “Bodice,” is chased in images that suggest attempted rape by a masculine sea. Of course, the usual gender assigned to the sea is feminine. In “I make His Crescent fill or lack–” (909), a testimony to the shamanic power of poetry, Dickinson makes the traditionally feminine moon male. And “Wild Nights–Wild Nights!” (249), one of Dickinson’s most explicitly sexual poems, reverses the usual sexual/gender activity in the final two lines: “Might I but moor–Tonight– / In Thee!”
Rebecca Patterson feels that the poem I cite above, “I make His Crescent fill or lack–” (909), refers to Kate Scott (Riddle 175), whom Patterson, writing in 1951, believes was the great love of Dickinson’s life. Although much of Patterson’s evidence regarding Kate Scott is conjectural, a close and open-minded reading of Dickinson’s letters and poetry will leave no doubt that Dickinson loved erotically members of both sexes–in addition to Scott, Dickinson loved her sister-in-law, Sue Dickinson, and probably the family friend Samuel Bowles, and late in her life Judge Otis Phillips Lord. That Dickinson’s erotic orientation was at all lesbian was a fact I, for one, was never let in on during my many years of education, in which her work figured prominently; and certainly the poems that appear in the standard anthologies wouldn’t indicate such. Yet a close examination by Lillian Faderman of “Emily Dickinson’s Homoerotic Poetry” leads Faderman to conclude: “Read as a whole, these poems present a picture of a woman whose love for another woman is characterized often by a quality akin to worship–or ‘Idolatry’ as Dickinson calls it [. . .]” (25). Like Walt Whitman, Dickinson was capable of changing pronouns in her love poems. Poem 494, for instance, she wrote in two versions. One begins: “Going to Him! Happy letter!” while the other begins: “Going–to–Her! / Happy–Letter! [. . .]” Both continue in the same vein. I quote the second version:
Tell Her–the page I never wrote!
Tell Her, I only said–the Syntax–
And left the Verb and the Pronoun–out!
Tell Her just how the fingers–hurried–
And then–you wished you had eyes–in your pages–
So you could see–what moved–them–so–
Stephen Coote includes this poem in The Penguin Book of Homosexual Verse. The following is also in that anthology:
Her breast is fit for pearls,
But I was not a “Diver”–
Her brow is fit for thrones
But I have not a crest.
Her heart is fit for home–
I–a Sparrow–built there
Sweet of twigs and twine
My perennial nest. (84)
These poems and the evidence of many other poems, as well as the evidence from the letters and the findings of Patterson, Faderman, and, more recently, Suzanne Juhasz, Cristanne Miller, and Martha Nell Smith (Comic Power in Emily Dickinson ), and Betsy Erkkila (“Homoeroticism and Audience: Emily Dickinson’s Female ‘Master'”), and others form, I think, incontrovertible evidence of Dickinson’s erotic love of women.
What has this to do with my reading of Dickinson as a neo-shaman? I see it as an aspect of her poetic need to cross the gender boundaries of her time; it places her into the shamanistic frame of the “berdache.” The berdache is a cross-gender figure in many American Indian tribes; that is, a man-woman or a woman-man who took on roles of the opposite gender and often had sex with and even married the same gender the berdache was originally born to. The connection between such cross-gender figures and shamans goes back probably to the origin of shamanism itself (see Roscoe 24). Eliade cites several examples of “transvestitism and ritual change of sex” among shamans worldwide (257-258). Walter L. Williams, an authority on the berdache, writes: “Shamans are not necessarily berdaches, but because of their spiritual connection, berdaches in many cultures are often considered to be powerful shamans.” Furthermore, he notes, “The Mohaves believed that female shamans were spiritually stronger than male ones, but that berdache shamans were stronger than either women or men” (35). Paula Gunn Allen, an American Indian author and professor, writes:
In some groups such as the Cherokee [. . .] shamans are typically trained along cross-gender rather than same gender lines. Thus male shamans train female apprentices, and female shamans train male apprentices. [. . .] gender is understood in a psychological or psychospiritual sense much more than in a physiological one. (206-207).
Finally, lesbian poet Judy Grahn writes: “Had I been born into a tribal society as were my European genetic ancestors, I believe I would have been the European equivalent of a shaman: a hag, a wisewoman, a sorcerer, a dervish, a runic bard, a warrior-priest, a wiccan-woman” (38). Almost the same could be said for Emily Dickinson; and her sexual orientation (whether ever physically realized with another person) and her experimentation with traditional Western gender roles in her poetry both support my contention that she is a neo-shaman who, in another era, like Grahn, would have been a traditional shaman.
Dickinson is famous for dressing in white during the later, secluded years of her life. Whatever else may be said about this idiosyncrasy, clearly it suggests the deliberate adoption of a particular persona (see my chapter on Stevenson and Housman). In “Of Tribulation, these are They” (325), Dickinson connects the wearing of white with victory over tribulation: “the ones who overcame most times– / Wear nothing commoner than Snow–” In another poem she connects the color with death:
Take Your Heaven further on–
This–to Heaven divine Has gone–
Had You earlier blundered in
Possibly, e’en You had seen
An Eternity–put on–
Now–to ring a Door beyond
Is the utmost of Your Hand–
To the Skies–apologize–
Nearer to Your Courtesies
Than this Sufferer polite–
Dressed to meet You–
See–in White! (388)
Interestingly, white is a color associated with the dress of some shamans. In the initiation of Buryat shamans, the neophytes wear white (Eliade 118). Buryat culture divides shamans into white (those assisted by good spirits) and black (those assisted by evil spirits). The white shaman wears a white fur (Eliade 150; see also Figure 2).
Fig. 2, a woman shaman of the Clayoquot tribe from Vancouver Island, photo by Edward S. Curtis, early 20th century (Pritzker 34). Although the photo is in black and white, clearly most of the feathers she wears are white and likely so is the weaving in her apparel.
Death, of course, is one of Dickinson’s favorite topics–part of her “Flood” subject. As Farr notes: “In her last years she would call ‘the secret of Death’ her central preoccupation. [. . .] But it had always concerned her” (4). She depicts death as a suitor in more than one poem. “Death is the supple Suitor / That wins at last–” (1445) she writes in a poem written about 1878. In poem 712 her posthumous speaker declares: “Because I could not stop for Death– / He kindly stopped for me– / The Carriage held but just Ourselves– / And Immortality.” I agree with Jungian critic Martin Bickman that “an attraction toward death can reflect a deeper urge toward individuation” (127). Bickman further comments that “apparently irreconcilable opposites [in poem 712 marriage and death] are linked by moving to a deeper psychic level” (121) in Dickinson. This traditional Jungian idea is valid applied to this poem and others like it, but I suggest another approach. I suggest Dickinson depicts a shamanic role, what Eliade calls the psychopomp–the guider of souls after death. (Another poem recalls the shamanic search for souls after death: “My soul, to find them, come, / They cannot call, they’re dumb,” 1436.) Eliade believes that originally this probably was the role of the shaman: to “escort the soul to the underworld” (208). “The shaman becomes indispensable,” Eliade writes, “when the dead person is slow to forsake the world of the living” (208-209). Although Dickinson is not often acknowledged as a mythic poet, here she clearly writes in a mythic tradition. One of the few mythological characters she actually names in her poetry, Orpheus (“The Bible is an antique Volume–” 1545), is perhaps the most renowned of all psychopomps, albeit she alludes to him as a singer/poet (“Orpheus’ Sermon captivated– / It did not condemn–“) rather than as a conductor of souls after death.
Like Orpheus, the shaman sometimes suffers the dismemberment of his or her body. Part of his or her initiation, the neophyte shaman’s dismemberment is followed by the replacement of old organs with new ones. Sometimes “spirits cut off his head, which they set aside (for the candidate must watch his dismemberment with his own eyes).” The spirits then cut the neophyte into “small pieces, which are then distributed to the spirits of the various diseases.” The purpose is to “gain the power to cure. [. . . the neophyte’s] bones are [. . .] covered with new flesh, and in some cases he is also given new blood” (Eliade 37). Even if there is no dismemberment, there is suffering and illness. The shaman is a “wounded healer” (often self-wounded) “who has cured himself” (Kalweit 90). The symbolism is that of death and rebirth.
Dickinson wrote obsessively about what I call her “Big Hurt” or her “Big Loss.” It was apparently the loss of love and the loved one or ones, whose identity no one knows for sure; the “Master” letters address this love object too. (There are also poems about her other great loss–publication and the public recognition that would have accompanied it.5) “The Soul has Bandaged moments–” she writes, “When too appalled to stir– / She feels some ghastly Fright come up / And stop to look at her” (512). Here, as in so many other poems, she relives the “Big Loss”: “The Horror welcomes her, again, / These, are not brayed of Tongue.” The pain is deeply psychic: “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain” (280), she says in one of her best poems. In poems that echo the dismemberment of the shaman, she writes, “Proud of my broken heart, since thou didst break it” (1736); “Before I got my eye put out” (327); and “Rearrange a ‘Wife’s’ affection! / When they dislocate my Brain! / Amputate my freckled Bosom! / Make me bearded like a man!” (1737). Here she has adopted her persona of “Empress of Calvary”: “None suspect me of the crown, / For I wear the ‘Thorns’ till Sunset– / Then–my Diadem put on.” Also, she is crossing genders again (“Make me bearded like a man!”). But she refuses to say the exact nature of her “Big Hurt”:
Big my Secret but it’s bandaged–
It will never get away
Till the Day its Weary Keeper
Leads it through the Grave to thee.
Who “thee” is we can’t be absolutely sure.
The same is true for the “Master” letters. They ooze almost embarrassingly with masochistic self-pity and pain:
If you saw a bullet hit a Bird–and he told you he was’nt [sic] shot–you might weep at his courtesy, but you would certainly doubt his word.
One drop more from the gash that stains your Daisy’s
bosom–then would you believe ?
(Letters, vol. 2, no. 233)
A love so big it scares her, rushing among her small
heart–pushing aside the blood and leaving her faint . . .
and white in the gust’s arm–
(Letters, vol. 2, no. 248)
Examples of similarly violent imagery from the poems include, “She dealt her pretty words like Blades / How glittering they shone– / And every One unbared a Nerve / Or wantoned with a Bone–” (479); and poem 264:
A Weight with Needles on the pounds–
To push, and pierce, besides–
That if the Flesh resist the Heft–
The puncture–cooly tries–
That not a pore be overlooked
Of all this Compound Frame–
As manifold for Anguish–
As Species–be–for name–
In a poem that again refers to the “Big Hurt,” she declares: “Joy to have merited the Pain– / To merit the Release– / Joy to have perished every step– / To Compass Paradise–” (788). The beginning of the second stanza (“Pardon–to look upon thy face– / With these old fashioned Eyes–“) echoes the second Master letter: “it were comfort forever–just to look in your face, while you looked in mine” (Letters, vol. 2, no. 233).
Finally, in poem 410 she not only relives the “Big Hurt” but also describes how it impelled her “to sing,” to work out her personal myth in her poetry:
The first Day’s Night had come–
And grateful that a thing
So terrible–had been endured–
I told my Soul to sing–
She said her Strings were snapt–
Her Bow–to Atoms blown–
And so to mend her–gave me work
Until another Morn–
And then–a Day as huge
As Yesterdays in pairs,
Unrolled its horror in my face–
Until it blocked my eyes–
My Brain–begun to laugh–
I mumbled–like a fool–
And tho’ ’tis Years ago–that Day–
My Brain keeps giggling–still.
And Something’s odd–within–
That person that I was–
And this One–do not feel the same–
Could it be Madness–this?
Dickinson here describes the transformation her suffering and subsequent growth as a poet has wrought. The change is so great she feels as if she’s a different person, and symbolically she is. Without the foundation and support of tribal religion, her final questioning of her sanity rings true, for her intellect and intellectual environment seemed inimical to such almost mystical experience.
If these poems and letters illustrate the “Big Hurt,” where is the healing? Part of the answer lies in the following poem:
On a Columnar Self–
How ample to rely
In Tumult–or Extremity–
How good the Certainty
That Lever cannot pry–
And Wedge cannot divide
Conviction–That Granitic Base–
Though None be on our Side–
Suffice Us–for a Crowd–
And that Assembly –not far off
From furthest Spirit–God– (789)
Similar pronouncements appear in “The Soul selects her own Society–” (303) and “The Soul’s Superior instants / Occur to Her–alone–” (306).6
These poems are an introvert’s declaration of independence, a claiming of the insights that come from the integrity of the Self. The first example, in particular, also shows a key difference between the neo-shaman and the traditional shaman. The latter doesn’t look to a “furthest Spirit”; she knows the spirits intimately. Unlike the traditional shaman, Dickinson isn’t quite sure what happens after death. If she believes in God, she argues with Him or refuses to communicate altogether.
In a letter of condolence on the death of their father, she writes to her cousins, Louise and Frances Norcross: “Let Emily sing for you because she cannot pray” (Letters, vol. 2, no. 278). She then writes out a version of poem number 335 (“‘Tis not that Dying hurts us so–“). When her friend and possible love-object, Samuel Bowles, was sick with a chill and acute sciatica, Dickinson sent the following poem in a letter to him (Sewall 481):
Would you like summer? Taste of ours.
Spices? Buy here!
Ill! We have berries, for the parching!
Weary! Furloughs of down!
Perplexed! Estates of violet trouble ne’er looked on!
Captive! We bring reprieve of roses!
Fainting! Flasks of air!
Even for Death, a fairy medicine.
But, which is it, sir? (691)
The poem reminds me very much of Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market, except that here the spices and berries are “fairy medicine.”7 Sewall is right to declare “she seems to be showering him [Bowles] with metaphors to convince him of the value of metaphors (and of her poems) and of their specific value, right now, to help him get well. A poem is a kind of prayer.” And, Sewall continues, “poems are life-giving: she spoke once of the ‘balsam word’ as having more power to heal than doctors” (482). The natural images she offers are blessed, healing medicines such as a shaman could provide. (See Figure 3.) In one of her few poems of “greeting card” quality, she writes, as Sewall notes: “If I can stop one Heart from breaking / I shall not live in vain / If I can ease one Life the Aching / Or cool one Pain [. . .] I shall not live in Vain” (919).
Fig. 3, Yarn art from the Huichol Indians of Mexico which depicts a
shaman (“El Chaman”) blessing in various ways “la milpa,” a
cultivated field of corn or maize, by Luchina Pérez Glez.
(from the collection of Clifton Snider, purchased in Puerto Vallarta,
Jalisco, Mexico, May 1997.)
Writing to Thomas Wentworth Higginson (the famous author who infamously failed to recognize her full poetic stature while she lived), Dickinson says in regard to a death: “I felt a palsy, here–the Verses just relieve–” (Letters, vol. 2, no. 265). If, as Kalweit suggests, “only self-borne suffering will stimulate true tolerance and genuine compassion” (98), Emily Dickinson possessed that kind of tolerance and compassion. Manifestly, poetry provided healing for herself from pain–self-inflicted or not–and she meant her poems to provide healing for others. In this she is very much in the shamanic tradition.
Many so-called “New Age” adepts believe in the healing power of crystals. This a shamanic idea. While their bodies are dismembered, many shamans receive a rock or quartz crystal into them (Eliade 132 and 135). Sometimes shamanic power is transferred by the vomiting of a quartz crystal over the neophyte (Kalweit 80). Or the neophyte may drink water that has had crystals in it (Eliade 135). There is something magical and healing about the chthonic substance of crystals. Describing the effects of deep psychic trauma, one of Dickinson’s best poems goes as follows:
After great pain, a formal feeling comes–
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs–
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?
The Feet, mechanical, go round–
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought–
A Wooden way
A Quartz contentment, like a stone–
This is the Hour of Lead–
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow–
First–Chill–then Stupor–then the letting go– (341)
With profound insight, she implies that such pain can kill (“if outlived”), yet if it does not kill, what remains is “A Quartz contentment.” Now this is a metaphor, to be sure, but it is also descriptive of the “letting go” necessary for the healing to come. The catharsis symbolized by the shaman’s dismemberment and replenishment with new organs and rock crystals is here strikingly recalled in a highly personal poem which nonetheless applies to all who’ve experienced such injury to the spirit.
Other shamanic ideas are the bridge that connects earth with heaven (Eliade 397) and the power to fly (Eliade 140). Let us first consider the bridge idea, alluded to in the following poem:
I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading–treading–till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through–
And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum–
Kept beating–beating–till I thought
My Mind was going numb–
And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space–began to toll,
As all the Heaven were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race
Wrecked, solitary, here–
And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down–
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And finished knowing–then– (280)
As I’ve indicated, part of the shaman’s initiation is a symbolic death and rebirth. And the drum, as Eliade notes, “has a role of the first importance in shamanic ceremonies.” Drumming “carries the shaman to the ‘Center of the World,’ [which can be the bridge itself–see Eliade 397] or enables him to fly through the air, or summons and ‘imprisons’ the spirits, or [. . .] the drumming enables the shaman to concentrate and regain contact with the spiritual world through which he is preparing to travel” (168). Cynthia Griffin Wolff has shown that Dickinson’s “Plank in Reason” alludes “to the iconography of conservative, mid-nineteenth-century religious culture” (229-230). She includes in her discussion a picture of what looks like a plank labeled “faith” in Holmes and Barber’s Religious Allegories (1848). The plank stretches from solid rock through clouds to the celestial kingdom of heaven. A man holding the Bible walks across on the plank. The emblem is called “WALKING BY FAITH,” and is based on II Corinthians 5:7: “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (Wolff 230-231). Wolff concludes that “having renounced faith, Dickinson substitutes a ‘Plank in Reason,’ which breaks because no rational explanation can be adequate to bridge the abyss between earth and Heaven. The poem concludes with a fall that is an apotheosis of confusion” (230).
Of course Dickinson, as Wolff surely knows, never entirely renounced faith, and I question whether this poem, unlike others such as “I died for Beauty–but was scarce” (449) or “Because I could not stop for Death–” (712), is truly written from the posthumous point of view. Rather, I suggest it describes psychic pain so great it’s like a great funeral ceremony separating the poet from the common lives of others. It describes the symbolic death a shaman must endure. The “Plank” is analogous to the bridge, and reason alone, as Wolff says, will not achieve the transport to the other side. It takes being done with “knowing” in a rational sense to do that. It takes spiritual “knowing,” shamanic transformation, the kind of experience she describes in poem 875:
I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my Feet the Sea.
I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch–
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.
I disagree with Wolff that the last line of this poem “explicitly repudiates religious or transcendent implications and converts the verse into no more than an aphoristic definition” (479). The planks are between the stars and the sea, that is, in the center, and her experience, precarious as it is, leads her on.
Here is a definition poem that actually defines what Dickinson means by experience:
Experience is the Angled Road
Preferred against the Mind
By–Paradox–the Mind itself–
Presuming it to lead
Quite Opposite–How Complicate
The Discipline of Man–
Compelling Him to Choose Himself
His Preappointed Pain– (910)
This is Gnostic, in Jung’s sense. Experience, Dickinson maintains, supersedes intellect. There is in this poem the Puritanical idea of predestination (“Compelling Him to Choose Himself / His Preappointed Pain–“). It is written by an obsessive-compulsive introvert who has been called to poetry. She is compelled by the complex Jung says governs all visionary artists, which drives them to remain true (against rational considerations) to their essentially shamanistic vision.
The shamanic idea of flight or ascension is also contained in Dickinson’s work:
As from the earth the light Balloon
Asks nothing but release–
Ascension that for which it was,
Its soaring Residence.
The spirit looks upon the Dust
That fastened it so long
As a Bird
Defrauded of its song. (1630)
Here death is looked upon as a joyful release–a flight like that of a bird. Birds, especially the eagle, are closely associated with the shaman as symbols of intercession between the gods and humans (Halifax 23), and Dickinson’s poetry is filled with birds. Although the eagle is not prominent, she writes frequently of blue birds, robins, the bobolink, and other birds from her daily observations. She writes of the blue bird:
Before you thought of Spring
Except as a Surmise
You see–God bless his suddenness–
A fellow in the Skies
Of independent Hues
A little weather worn
Of Indigo and Brown-
With specimens of Song
As if for you to choose–
Discretion in the interval
With gay delays he goes
To some superior Tree
Without a single Leaf
And shouts for joy to Nobody
But his seraphic self– (1465)
The “seed form” of such bird song, as Joan Halifax declares, “is found in the psyche of the shaman” (24). The bird is a transcendent symbol, a spiritual symbol par excellence, as the adjective “seraphic” implies. Using bird imagery, Dickinson writes: “With Pinions of Disdain / The soul can farther fly / Than any feather specified / in Ornithology–” (1431). The soul, then, transcends the symbol and, shaman-like, flies.
Like the bridge or plank, Jacob’s Ladder also extends from earth to heaven, and Jacob’s wrestling with the angel at Peniel is a favorite Biblical story for Dickinson. Referring to the poem recounting this story (“A little East of Jordan,” 59), Wolff writes: “Jacob the wrestler was a model for the poet-pugilist; Jacob’s struggle was a starting point for Dickinson as artist” (151). Dickinson alludes to the story in the final lines of the poem that begins “How dare the robins sing” (1724): “Extinct be every hum / In deference to him / Whose garden wrestles with the dew, / At daybreak overcome!” The struggle Wolff refers to is the pain and suffering required of the shaman-poet; the reward comes in the rare moments one is allowed to climb the ladder to insight and transcendence–to ecstasy, one of Dickinson’s favorite words. “Take all away from me,” she writes, “but leave me Ecstasy” (Poem 1640).
Jacob’s Ladder is emblematic of the World Tree which connects the three Cosmic Zones or Planes in which shamans believe the world to be configured: underworld, earth, and sky (Eliade 259; see Figure 4). Far more prominent in Dickinson, however, is another “axis” connecting the three worlds: the Cosmic Mountain. As Eliade asserts, the two symbols–World Tree and Cosmic Mountain–are “complementary,” and “it is only the shamans and the heroes who actually scale the Cosmic Mountain” (Eliade 269). Now Dickinson, a neo-shaman, never actually reaches the other side of the mountain. A little like Moses on Pisgah, she reaches the summit occasionally and has tentative glimpses of the afterlife. Death, she says in “Of Death I try to think like this–” (1558), is something positive that must be seized by the bold:
I do remember when a Child
With bolder Playmates straying
To where a Brook that seemed a Sea
Withheld us by its roaring
From just a Purple Flower beyond
Until constrained to clutch it
If Doom itself were the result,
The boldest leaped, and clutched it–
As in so many of her poems, she seems to be saying that we know the opposites by each other–here death by what we know of life.8
Fig. 4. This photograph by Louis C. Faron nicely illustrates at least four Dickinsonian shamanic motifs: the ascent, the World Tree, drumming, and out of body or supernatural experience. Joan Halifax writes of this picture: “A female machi (shaman) has ascended her rewe or notched pole. The pole has steps, and the machi climbs to the seventh level to complete her skyward journey. She plays a frame drum that assists her in her climb up the World Tree. In the Mapuche region of Chile, the hallucinogens Anadenathera, Datura, and Brugmancia were used during shamanic seances” (85). Note also that the shaman appears to be dressed in white.
As we have seen she compares herself to Vesuvius in “My Life had stood–a Loaded Gun–” (754), just as she does in poem 1705:
Volcanoes be in Sicily
And South America
I judge from my Geography–
Volcanos nearer here
A Lava step at any time
Am I inclined to climb–
A Crater I may contemplate
Vesuvius at Home.
The image of the volcano as herself is a potent symbol, but also, like her famous (albeit inferior) poem, “I never saw a Moor–” (1052), it shows the shamanic ability to travel (fly, as it were) to foreign places without leaving home.
The shaman is able to do this by means of her ability to travel the World Axis. Sometimes she celebrates that axis, just has she has flown via her intuition and imagination to see it:
Purples of Ages–pause for you–
Sunset–reviews her Sapphire Regiment–
Day–drops you her Red Adieu!
Still–Clad in your Mail of ices–
Thigh of Granite–and thew–of Steel–
Heedless–alike–of pomp–or parting
I’m kneeling–still– (666)
Wolff interprets this poem as an “image of nature as distant from human concerns and utterly independent both of God’s force and of mankind’s needs [. . .] because the speaker knows no other way to manifest her respect, she concludes her meditation by ‘kneeling’ in reverence” (434). I suspect there is more Wolff in this comment than there is Dickinson. A nineteenth-century critic would probably label the speaker’s reverence “pantheistic,” but I would call it an example of original participation, what Lucien Lévy-Bruhl called participation mystique. Consider what Jungian psychotherapist D. Stephenson Bond says: “the experience of participation mystique is bound up with a subjective perception of intensity, usually an emotional and physical intensity. Perhaps the greater the intensity, the more likely it is that objects will be experienced as having a life of their own” (9). That Dickinson never actually saw the snow-capped volcanic peak of Teneriffe in the Canaries with her physical eyes is evidence of the intensity of her participation. She projects something of herself, whom she sees as a volcano, unto Teneriffe. The mountain is hardly distant from human affairs or from God. In a most profound sense, it is human; it is God–just as it (and God) is in (and therefore is) the speaker herself. It connects the three worlds she as a shaman-poet is most concerned with.
If the number of poems with a posthumous speaker weren’t evidence enough of Dickinson’s interest in the underworld, one of her few poems published in her lifetime (and one of her better poems) should confirm her interest. Here is the first stanza of the 1859 version:
Safe in their Alabaster Chambers
Untouched by Morning
And untouched by Noon–
Sleep the meek members of the Resurrection–
Rafter of satin,
And Roof of stone. (216)
Even though she sees the “members of the Resurrection” as sleeping (or lying in the 1861 version), a modern point of view, the poem is sufficient to show her interest in the afterworld. Another poem suggests that the sleep of these dead ones continues only until the Resurrection:
‘Tis Anguish grander than Delight
‘Tis Resurrection Pain–
The meeting Bands of smitten Face
We questioned to, again.
‘Tis Transport wild as thrills the Graves
When Cerements let go
And Creatures clad in Miracle
Go up by Two and Two. (984)
Here she writes as a true believer in the Christian doctrine of the Resurrection.
The number of poems which show her interest in the middle and upper Cosmic Zones are almost too numerous to give adequate examples. She has an incredible number of poems about flowers, birds, butterflies, sunsets, and many other aspects of nature; and an amazing number of these are introverted poems that examine the meaning of these and other images vis-à-vis her inner life–her psyche. Consider the following:
‘Tis Sunrise–Little Maid–Hast Thou
No Station in the Day?
‘Twas not thy wont, to hinder so–
Retrieve thine industry–
‘Tis Noon–My little Maid–
Alas–and art thou sleeping yet?
The Lily–waiting to be Wed–
The Bee–Hast thou forgot?
My little Maid–‘Tis Night–Alas
That Night should be to thee
Instead of Morning–Had’st thou broached
Thy little Plan to Die–
Dissuade thee, if I could not, Sweet,
I might have aided–thee– (908)
Gilbert and Gubar call this one of Dickinson’s “most chilling dramatic monologues” (623). Dickinson interweaves images of three periods of the day (sunrise, noon, and night) with the lily and the bee to create a portrait of the shadow archetype. She speaks, as Gilbert and Gubar assert, “as the murderous madwoman whom she ordinarily fears” (623).
Because it is an archetype, the shadow, or double, can be positive as well as negative. Shamans can sometimes become animals, which thus become their archetypal doubles. Eliade writes: “we might speak of a new identity for the shaman, who becomes an animal-spirit, and ‘speaks,’ sings, or flies like the animals and birds” (93). Moreover, “the tutelary animal not only enables the shaman to transform himself; it is in a manner his ‘double,’ his alter ego” (94). In Dickinson we find at least a parallel to this idea in the following delightful love poem:
Because the Bee may blameless hum
For Thee a Bee do I become
List even unto Me.
Because the Flowers unafraid
May lift a look on thine, a Maid
Alway a Flower would be.
Nor Robins, Robins need not hide
When Thou upon their Crypts intrude
So Wings bestow on Me
Or Petals, or a Dower of Buzz
That Bee to ride, or Flower of Furze
I that way worship Thee. (869)
To say the least, the speaker of this poem is androgynous. The bee, the robin, even the flower (the furze is prickly; it has spines) are all masculine images. The beloved is apparently a she, so that we have another example of gender-crossing and same-sex love where the speaker transforms herself into a bee, a robin and a “Flower of Furze.”
Such transformation is typical not only of the shaman, but also of the trickster archetype. For example, as Eliade notes, the Nordic trickster Loki “can take various animal shapes” (386, n.39). Other tricksters from North American Indian culture which are associated with the shaman are Raven and Otter (Halifax 38).
Note how in the following (a poem about the sky–the third Cosmic Plane–and flight) Dickinson subtly identifies with the bird:
She staked her Feathers–Gained an Arc–
This time–beyond the estimate
Of Envy, or of Men–
And now, among Circumference–
Her steady Boat be seen–
At home–among the Billow–As
The Bough where she was born– (798)
The bird symbolizes transcendence, the kind that achieves “Circumference,” another of Dickinson’s favorite words. If the Cosmic Mountain and the World Tree are the center, the axis, then circumference contains the achievement of wholeness, what Jung calls the Self. Taken as a whole, it is what her poetry achieves–the culmination of her personal myth.
Here is a final example of Dickinson’s original participation:
My Faith is larger than the Hills–
So when the Hills decay–
My Faith must take the Purple Wheel
To show the Sun the way–
‘Tis first He steps upon the Vane–
And then–upon the Hill–
And then abroad the World He go
To do His Golden Will–
And if His Yellow feet should miss–
The Bird would not arise–
The Flowers would slumber on their Stems–
No Bells have Paradise–
How dare I, therefore, stint a faith
On which so vast depends–
Lest Firmament should fail for me–
The Rivet in the Bands (766)
This poem reminds me of Jung’s discussion, recounted in Aniela Jaffé’s oral biography of him, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, with a Taos Pueblo chief, who said:
“[. . .] we are a people who live on the roof of the world;
we are the sons of Father Sun, and with our religion
we daily help our father to go across the sky. We do
this not only for ourselves, but for the whole world.
If we were to cease practicing our religion, in ten
years the sun would no longer rise. Then it would
be night forever.” (252)
The shaman-poet is the rivet that holds human life together on this planet. To a rational, extraverted mind, the idea is absurd. Note, however, what Bond writes:
Our culture is now experiencing the death of myth, which is precisely what Jung meant when he said that when the aging myths of former generations pass away, the mythmaking process is constellated in the lives of individuals. For the birth of the personal myth in the imagination of a single individual may become the rebirth of the greater myths in the imagination of the culture. (75)
The poem I’ve just quoted is part of Emily Dickinson’s personal myth, one rooted, like shamanism itself, in the collective unconscious of our species.
The high regard Dickinson had for poetry she illustrates in the following poem:
To pile like Thunder to its close
Then crumble grand away
While Everything created hid
This–would be Poetry–
Or Love–the two coeval come–
We both and neither prove–
Experience either and consume–
For None see God and live– (1247)
Like a traditional shaman, she would, “after great pain” “see God and live.” Dickinson, of course, is not a traditional shaman; she is a neo-shaman who equates the archetype of love with poetry and through that poetry does what shamans have always done.9 She explores the major issues of human life–love, ecstasy, pain, suffering, death, doubt, faith, the afterlife, a Higher Power–and she reports what she’s found. That was her job on earth, her personal myth, her letter to the world.
1Sources vary as to the number of poems published in her lifetime. The editor of the authoritative edition of her poems puts the number at seven (Johnson, Poems of Emily Dickinson, vol. 3, 1207) and a recent biographer puts it at eleven (Wolff 245). In any case, the number is very small compared to the 1775 poems she actually wrote.
2Other critics who have to varying degrees used Jung to analyze Dickinson include Theodora Ward (The Capsule of the Mind), Albert Gelpi (Emily Dickinson: The Mind of the Poet and The Tenth Muse: The Psyche of the American Poet), and Martin Bickman, American Romantic Psychology). I know of none, however, who has viewed Dickinson in quite the way I view her.
3Although traditional shamanism is on the decline, shamans continue to practice their rituals and beliefs. See “Korean Shamanism,” by Joon-hyuk Kang. Other contemporary cultures that practice shamanism include the Aborigines of Australia, the Huichol Indians of Mexico (Halifax 70-71; see Figure 3 above), and the modern Maya in such locations as Chiapas and Yucatán, Mexico, and Guatemala (Schuster 50-53).
4Despite the wide separation of these poems in The Complete Poems, we do not know even the approximate date of the second poem; it could be early or late. See Johnson, Poems of Emily Dickinson , vol. 3, 1166.
5For example, take poem 985:
The Missing All–prevented Me
From missing minor Things.
If nothing larger than a World’s
Departure from a Hinge–
Or Sun’s extinction, be observed–
‘Twas not so large that I
Could lift my Forehead from my work
The loss here, however, goes beyond public recognition of her work. No doubt it includes the “Big Loss” I’ve alluded to. In any case, this poem is another example of Dickinson’s obsessive devotion to her vocation as a poet.
6Here, incidentally, is a good example of her use of dashes to emphasize her meaning: the word “alone” made alone by the dashes.
7Interestingly, Dickinson’s contemporary, Christina Rossetti (they were both born in 1830), responded favorably to the edited, posthumous volume of Dickinson’s work that appeared in 1890. Rossetti wrote to her brother William on 6 December 1890: “There is a book I might have shown you. [. . .] Poems by Emily Dickinson lately sent me from America–but perhaps you know it. She had (for she is dead) a wonderful Blakean gift, but therewithal a startling recklessness of poetic ways and means” (qtd. in Doriani 37). We do not know for certain whether Dickinson read Rossetti, although it is quite possible that she did. For a discussion of this possibility, see Marsh 539-540. For a discussion of Goblin Market in the context of Dickinson’s poetry, see Daneen Wardrop, Emily Dickinson’s Gothic.
8This reading is not entirely original with me. Poet Richard Wilbur comments on “Success is counted sweetest” (67): “Certainly Emily Dickinson’s critics are right in calling this poem an expression of the idea of compensation–of the idea that every evil confers some balancing good, that through bitterness we learn to appreciate the sweet, that ‘Water is taught by thirst'” (131). Thanks to my colleague, Richard Spiese, at California State University, Long Beach, for drawing my attention to this essay. Another example of Dickinson’s doctrine of compensation is poem 689:
The Zeroes–taught us–Phosphorus–
We learned to like the Fire
By playing Glaciers–when a Boy–
And Tinder–guessed–by power
Of Opposite–to balance Odd–
If White–a Red–must be!
The shaman-poet who lives in both the natural world and the supernatural world and experiences both genders is thus able to know each of these pairs of opposites intimately.
Judith Farr calls Dickinson “a poet of the transitus,” the word theologians of the Middle Ages used to refer to the “soul’s passage” from life to “Eternity” (6-7). With her sister Lavinia and her brother Austin she talked about “‘the Extension of Consciousness, after Death'” (qtd. in Farr 9). Dickinson’s siblings “were always aware of the facility with which their sister’s contemplation moved between this world and an hypothetical other” (9).
9Significantly, Jung has written that “the psychological inference that may be drawn from shamanistic symbolism [. . . is] that it is a projection of the individuation process” (Alchemical Studies 341).
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–Copyright © Clifton Snider, 2000.
This essay first appeared, in a different form, in The San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal 14 (1996): 33-64.
Last revised: 31 December 2000.
Oscar Wilde, Queer Addict.
The Vampire Archetype in Emily and Charlotte Brontë.
Edward Lear: Victorian Trickster.
Psychic Integratin in Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market.
Eros and Logos in Oscar Wilde’s Fairy Tales.
To read more about the poetry and criticism of Clifton Snider,
click on Poetry and Criticism. The Age of the Mother has poetry
Read about his Snider’s latest book of poetry, The Alchemy of Opposites.
Read about his novels, Wrestling with Angels: A Tale of Two Brothers, Bare Roots, and Loud Whisper.
Page last revised: 21 January 2004.
California State University, Long Beach
Throughout the twentieth century, we have been witness to several movements which have helped to shape the face of American culture. Collectively these movements have modified the way we, as Americans, think and behave. One of the most influential literary movements of this century has been that of the Beat movement. By using various literary techniques, along with non-conformist lifestyles as a basis for their writing, the beats were able to stir things up and shock society. They stormed and looted the impenetrable stronghold of serious literature. The beat generation opened up the eyes of the world to the unconventional, and by doing so, made its mark as the most significant literary movement of this century.
The beats were a small group of writers and intellects who were opposed to a totalitarian America. An American society which was based on mass consumption and mass conformity, leaving very little room for individualism. The beats, of which Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs are best known today, rebelled against American culture through their literary works. These works were often based on the beats’ own experiences, which came to increasingly include drugs, sex, and Jazz. Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs became acquainted with each other in the vicinity of Columbia University in the mid-1940’s. They remained friends while motivating each others individualistic writing efforts, however, it was more then ten years after that, in the 1950’s before publishers began to take their work seriously. Jack Kerouac coined the term “beat” during a conversation with Herbert Hunke. Beat was originally used to describe Kerouac’s close network of friends, consisting mainly of artists, writers, and criminals, only later did it represent an entire movement. Kerouac felt the word beat represented the notion that he, along with his friends, were beaten down by the government, beaten down by the police, beaten down by any and all controlling institutions, and for a while, beaten down from the literary world. Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs all sustained the desire to keep the beat, to celebrate the true spirit of the lower class, which to them, happens to be the real beat generation. The beats wrote literature and poetry, it was here where they began to experiment with new writing styles, and new ways of living life. These new experiment methods pressed the notion of freedom to a new limit while, breaking societies hold on what freedom is suppose to mean. The beats engaged in escapades that included crime, hedonistic parties, and mind altering drugs. It was the perfect combination of non-conformist desires to live life to its fullest, along with brilliance in writing, that made the writers of the beat generation eye-catching to the public. Everywhere they went they rejoiced in the splendor of life: nature, writing, art, and experience. The two artists who are the focus for this paper are Jack Kerouac, and William S Burroughs. Although the two were prominent and defining members of the beat movement, they oddly enough did not have much in common. Their writing techniques are contrary, as well as their lifestyles. Kerouac’s writing is a direct consummation of his immutable personal loneliness. It was during his life experiences, whether it was binge drinking, wild sex, or lunacy on the road, where he attempted to quench his desire to find himself, and in the process hoped to eradicate his personal loneliness. On the other hand, Burroughs’ writing is a unique interpretation of altered states of consciousness due to his heavy involvement in mind altering drugs, such as heroin. It was through these visions and experiences where he wrote his most creative and peculiar work. Jack Kerouac described America. We are able to experience brilliant sunsets through his eyes, and we are almost able to taste the potent Jack Daniel’s he loosely swallowed down. His collection of writings make up his life experience growing up, working, and traveling through America. Jack Kerouac lead an almost tragic life. He was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, to a French Canadian family. As an adolescent he found himself unchallenged by those around him, they bored him. As a result he spent his time making trips to New York City, frequenting jazz clubs and museums. As Kerouac grew older he was constantly forming important friendships with other boys, as he would continue to do throughout his life. Kerouac had an early interest in writing and literature. He would create stories at a young age, and read novels by Thomas Wolfe, the writer he modeled himself after. At seventeen years old, he obtained a football scholarship to Columbia University. His family followed him there and settled in Ozone
Park, Queens. This was at the start of World War II, so Kerouac dropped out to enlist in the navy. The navy did not fair him well, he was discharged shortly after his enrollment due to his refusal to accept military discipline. He served the remainder of the war as a merchant marine. After the war Kerouac returned to Columbia University. It was upon his return where he met the group of men, mostly criminals and drug dealers, who would become his eternal friends and the inspiration for his work. This group included: Herbert Hunke, criminal hero of Kerouac’s underworld, William S. Burroughs, junk addict, and eventual novelist, Allen Ginsberg, poet and philosopher, and finally Neal Cassady, the mad hero of ‘On The Road’, which is said to be Kerouacs most famous novel. Jack Kerouac’s first published novel was called ‘The Town and the City’, this work was based on the style of Thomas Wolfe. It received mixed criticism and sold few copies. It was not until ‘On the Road’, his second book, that Kerouac found a voice of his own. ‘On the Road’ was a rather poetic story of a friendship, and four trips across America. Kerouac used the technique of spontaneous prose to write ‘On the Road’. The narrator is Sal Paradise, a young novelist, with an insatiable desire to see America. He maintains a strange, and at times frustrating relationship with Dean Moriarty ( which is Kerouac’s real-life friend Neal Cassady). The part of the story that held me the most was the ending. It is eminently ambiguous in terms of its meaning. For example, Sal made plans to go to the Duke Ellington concert, but he would rather be with Dean. However, Remi Bencoeur and his girlfriend do not like Dean. So in the end Sal just drives off with his friends and waves goodbye to Dean. To me, Dean Moriarty is the most magnetic character in the book, but everybody in the book gets sick of him at some point or another. Even Sal is forced to realize that he cannot depend on Dean to stick with him when the going gets rough. We also see that the joyrides get a little less joyful as they progress. I must pose the question, is it really possible that people need to grow up? That you cannot go riding around from adventure to adventure? Luckily, this book does not attempt to answer that question, it just lets us experience the sights and sounds along the way. ‘On the Road’ received high critical acclaim and eventually became known as the defying novel of the beat generation. Kerouac eventually wrote ‘Visions of Cody’ in 1951-52, which completed his collection of a life sketch of a man who traveled all over the country, living for the sake of experience, and recording his observations of his journey. ‘Visions of Cody’ was also written in a radical , experimental form. I never experienced anything like ‘Visions of Cody’ before. I at times wanted to rip my hair out while reading it, yet there were times I did not want to put it down. It was a challenging read, although, well worth the effort. The New York Times book review said “to read ‘On the Road’, but not ‘Visions of Cody’, is to take a nice sightseeing tour, but to forego the spectacular rapids of Jack Kerouac’s wildest writing.” I do not think I could ever say it better then that. ‘Visions of Cody’ is the ultimate version of the ‘On the Road’ story. Through his forty years, Kerouac was unable to remain in a long-term romantic relationship. He was married twice, however, both marriages ended within months. In the mid 1960’s he married a childhood friend. She was convenient to have around to help Kerouac with his aging mother. Jack Kerouac died in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1969. He began to vomit blood, and was rushed to the hospital where he died. The last few years of his life were plagued with sadness and alcoholism. I find it ironic how sadness and alcoholism enabled him to express himself the way he did, yet they also took away his expressionism long before his time. William S. Burroughs, now there is a character. As I write about him, I’m getting this kind of creepy vibe, almost like he is watching me write about him. I could almost hear his throaty, hoarse laugh. He honestly frightened me, his work frightened me, and his lifestyle was one of complete mayhem. Burroughs was born on Feb. 5, 1914, in St. Louis, Missouri. He was raised in an upper-class society, this did not suit his tastes. Burroughs liked to read, had a fascination with guns and crime, along with a natural inclination to break every possible rule. He also experienced and expressed strong homosexual desires. He could never fit into ‘normal’ society, although he did attend and graduate from Harvard University. In his early thirties he traveled to New York, where he intentionally became a junk addict (morphine and heroin). He dealt drugs and stole to support his habit. His St. Louis friend Lucien Carr introduced him to a young crowd studying at Columbia University, among them was Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac. He was older then them, but they were impressed by his obvious intelligence. Kerouac and Ginsberg were interested in Burroughs’ underworld experimentation, though they would not follow him very far into it. By his mid-thirties Burroughs had still not begun to write, although he
always encouraged Ginsberg and Kerouac. Writing first entered Burroughs life as a serious venture in 1950, when his old friend from Harvard, Kells Elvins, convinced him to write an account of his experiences with drugs. Burroughs agreed , and after much work he wrote Junkie. Junkie was not very interesting. It was an easy read, whose graphic nature made me wonder if Burroughs should have been walking the streets. As I read it I could not believe that it was autobiographical. After reading Kerouac and then Burroughs I was a little disappointed, I enjoyed Kerouac’s writing much more. In 1951 Burroughs accidentally shot and killed his common-law wife Joan. He was intoxicated one day, and tried to shoot a glass situated on her head, he of course missed, and shot her in the head. She was killed instantly. After he was arrested he escaped from Mexico, to South America. It was in South America where he officially began his writing career. Burroughs has said that he thinks it is unfortunate that it took the loss of his wife for him to find his creative abilities in writing. Burroughs was a homosexual , in his writings he was very explicit and his orientation, although, he did maintain a heterosexual relationship, and had a son through it. His next publication is ‘Naked Lunch’ in 1959. This book deals with his experiences with drugs, drug addiction, and the subconscious. His surrealistic style and dream-like (or nightmare like) descriptions, along with his impressive experiences, make his writing unique and fascinating. This book slips and slides and glides through alleyways and canals of utter madness. It is degrading (he has said some nasty things about women), perverse, yet extremely clever, in a sick sort of way. The oddest aspect of ‘Naked Lunch’ is Burroughs’ juxtaposition, which in his later books turns into the cut-up technique. This technique is an experimental prose method, it is a way of exposing word and image controls and freeing the reader from them. He did not use standard prose, he used abrupt transformations, and placed chapters in any random order. His hallucinations were sometimes to hard to bear, but it is not very often you are able to get insight into the mind of a deeply disturbed, yet brilliant individual. Whether it was sex with bugs, or sex with his Spanish lover, Burroughs leaves quite a bit to the imagination, which at times scared me. I did not think I was even able to visualize some of the things he described. Burroughs was the only beat figure not strongly influenced by Buddhist thought. This could be a telling fact as to why his writing is so creepy. William S. Burroughs died in Lawrence, Kansas, on August 3, 1997, of a heart attack. This put an end to an his era, yet he has left behind work that will influence generations of artists to come. The beat society used drugs to help free their minds. Benzedrine (speed) was a symbol (and feeling) of perpetual motion for enhanced creativeness and flow of ideas. The high from heroin also served to enhance creativeness. All those involved in the beat movement used drugs with the notion that it will help them on their literary endeavors. Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs both contributed much to decline of a strictly narrow minded society. They were friends, and admired each others work, yet they were different. Each expressing himself the only way he knew fit, and collectively impacting our society. Burroughs gave us visuals into his madness, we were able to experience and appreciate the disease in his mind, which is drug addiction. Jack Kerouac on the other hand allowed us to travel with him on his journeys. We felt his loneliness, and watched him drink his sadness away. Both men were prisoners to their talents. Their passion was brought to fruition through words, their words were products of drugs, booze, music, experience, and life long friendships.
from Mexico City Blues
by Jack Kerouac
Turns in the void expelling human beings,
Pigs, turtles, frogs, insects, nits,
Mice, lice, lizards, rats, roan
Racinghorses, poxy bubolic pigtics,
Horrible, unnameable lice of vultures,
Murderous attacking dog-armies
Of Africa, Rhinos roaming in the jungle,
Elephants, rams, eagles, condors,
Pones and Porcupines and Pills-
All the endless conception of living beings
Gnashing everywhere in Consciousness
Throughout the ten directions of space
Occupying all the quarters in & out,
From super-microscopic no-bug
To huge Galaxy Lightyear Bowell
Illuminating the sky of one Mind-
Poor! I wish I was fee
of that slaving meat wheel
and safe in heaven dead
On The Road (excerpt)
The only thing to do was to get out of L.A. According to my friend’s instructions I stood on my head, using the wire fence to prevent me from falling over. It made my cold feel a little better. Then I walked to the bus station (through tracks and side streets) and caught a cheap bus twenty-five miles to Riverside. Cops kept looking at me suspiciously with that big bag on my back. Everything was far away from the easy purity of being with Japhy Ryder in that high rock camp under peaceful singing stars
by Allen Ginsberg
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat
up smoking in the supernatural darkness of
cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and
saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes
hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy
among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy &
publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear,
burning their money in wastebaskets and listening
to the Terror through the wall,
who got busted in their pubic beards returning through
Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,
who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in
Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their
torsos night after night
with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares,
alcohol and cock and endless balls,
incomparable blind; streets of shuddering cloud and
lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of Canada & Paterson,
illuminating all the motionless world of Time between,
Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery
dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops,
storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon
blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree
vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brooklyn,
ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind,
who chained themselves to subways for the endless
ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine
until the noise of wheels and children brought
them down shuddering mouth-wracked and
battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance
in the drear light of Zoo,
who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford's
floated out and sat through the stale beer after
noon in desolate Fugazzi's, listening to the crack
of doom on the hydrogen jukebox,
who talked continuously seventy hours from park to
pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brooklyn Bridge,
lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping
down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills
off Empire State out of the moon,
yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts
and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks
and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars,
whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days
and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the
Synagogue cast on the pavement,
who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a
trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic City Hall,
suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grind-ings and
migraines of China under junk-with-drawal in Newark's bleak furnished room,
who wandered around and around at midnight in the
railroad yard wondering where to go, and went,
leaving no broken hearts,
who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing
through snow toward lonesome farms in grand-father night,
who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telepathy
and bop kabbalah because the cosmos instinctively
vibrated at their feet in Kansas,
who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking visionary
indian angels who were visionary indian angels,
who thought they were only mad when Baltimore
gleamed in supernatural ecstasy,
who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Oklahoma on the impulse of winter midnight street
light smalltown rain,
who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston
seeking jazz or sex or soup, and followed the
brilliant Spaniard to converse about America
and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so took ship to Africa,
who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving
behind nothing but the shadow of dungarees
and the lava and ash of poetry scattered in fireplace Chicago,
who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the
F.B.I. in beards and shorts with big pacifist
eyes sexy in their dark skin passing out incomprehensible leaflets,
who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting
the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism,
who distributed Supercommunist pamphlets in Union
Square weeping and undressing while the sirens
of Los Alamos wailed them down, and wailed
down Wall, and the Staten Island ferry also wailed,
who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked
and trembling before the machinery of other skeletons,
who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight
in policecars for committing no crime but their
own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication,
who howled on their knees in the subway and were
dragged off the roof waving genitals and manuscripts,
who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly
motorcyclists, and screamed with joy,
who blew and were blown by those human seraphim,
the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean love,
who balled in the morning in the evenings in rose
gardens and the grass of public parks and
cemeteries scattering their semen freely to
whomever come who may,
who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up
with a sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath
when the blond & naked angel came to pierce
them with a sword,
who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate
the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar
the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb
and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but
sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden
threads of the craftsman's loom,
who copulated ecstatic and insatiate with a bottle of
beer a sweetheart a package of cigarettes a candle and fell off the bed, and continued along
the floor and down the hall and ended fainting
on the wall with a vision of ultimate cunt and
come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness,
who sweetened the snatches of a million girls trembling
in the sunset, and were red eyed in the morning
but prepared to sweeten the snatch of the sun
rise, flashing buttocks under barns and naked in the lake,
who went out whoring through Colorado in myriad
stolen night-cars, N.C., secret hero of these
poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver-joy
to the memory of his innumerable lays of girls
in empty lots & diner backyards, moviehouses'
rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or with
gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely petticoat upliftings & especially secret gas-station
solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys too,
who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in
dreams, woke on a sudden Manhattan, and
picked themselves up out of basements hung
over with heartless Tokay and horrors of Third
Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to unemployment offices,
who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on
the snowbank docks waiting for a door in the
East River to open to a room full of steamheat and opium,
who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment
cliff-banks of the Hudson under the wartime
blue floodlight of the moon & their heads shall
be crowned with laurel in oblivion,
who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested
the crab at the muddy bottom of the rivers of Bowery,
who wept at the romance of the streets with their
pushcarts full of onions and bad music,
who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the
bridge, and rose up to build harpsichords in their lofts,
who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned
with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded
by orange crates of theology,
who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty
incantations which in the yellow morning were
stanzas of gibberish,
who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht
& tortillas dreaming of the pure vegetable kingdom,
who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for an egg,
who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot
for Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks
fell on their heads every day for the next decade,
who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccessfully, gave up and were forced to open antique
stores where they thought they were growing
old and cried,
who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits
on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse
& the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments
of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the
fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of sinister intelligent editors, or were run down by the
drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality,
who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened and walked away unknown and forgotten
into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alley
ways & firetrucks, not even one free beer,
who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of
the subway window, jumped in the filthy Passaic, leaped on negroes,
cried all over the street,
danced on broken wineglasses barefoot smashed
phonograph records of nostalgic European
1930s German jazz finished the whiskey and
threw up groaning into the bloody toilet, moans
in their ears and the blast of colossal steam whistles,
who barreled down the highways of the past journeying
to each other's hotrod-Golgotha jail-solitude
watch or Birmingham jazz incarnation,
who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out
if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had
a vision to find out Eternity,
who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who
came back to Denver & waited in vain, who
watched over Denver & brooded & loned in
Denver and finally went away to find out the
Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes,
who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying
for each other's salvation and light and breasts,
until the soul illuminated its hair for a second,
who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for
impossible criminals with golden heads and the
charm of reality in their hearts who sang sweet
blues to Alcatraz,
who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky
Mount to tender Buddha or Tangiers to boys
or Southern Pacific to the black locomotive or
Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the
daisychain or grave,
who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hyp
notism & were left with their insanity & their
hands & a hung jury,
who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturers on Dadaism
and subsequently presented themselves on the
granite steps of the madhouse with shaven heads
and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding instantaneous lobotomy,
and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin
Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psychotherapy occupational
therapy pingpong & amnesia,
who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic
pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia,
returning years later truly bald except for a wig of
blood, and tears and fingers, to the visible mad
man doom of the wards of the madtowns of the East,
Pilgrim State's Rockland's and Greystone's foetid
halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul,
rocking and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench
dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a nightmare,
bodies turned to stone as heavy as the moon,
with mother finally ******, and the last fantastic book
flung out of the tenement window, and the last
door closed at 4. A.M. and the last telephone
slammed at the wall in reply and the last furnished room
emptied down to the last piece of mental furniture,
a yellow paper rose twisted on a wire hanger in the closet,
and even that imaginary,
nothing but a hopeful little bit of hallucination
ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and
now you're really in the total animal soup of time
and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed
with a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use
of the ellipse the catalog the meter & the vibrating plane,
who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space
through images juxtaposed, and trapped the
archangel of the soul between 2 visual images
and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun
and dash of consciousness together jumping
with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus
to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human
prose and stand before you speechless and intelligent
and shaking with shame,
rejected yet confessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm
of thought in his naked and endless head,
the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown,
yet putting down here what might be left to say
in time come after death,
and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in
the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the
suffering of America's naked mind for love into
an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone
cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio
with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered
out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand years.
What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open
their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?
Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unob
tainable dollars! Children screaming under the
stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men
weeping in the parks!
Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the
loveless! Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy
judger of men!
Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the
crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of
sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgment!
Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stunned governments!
Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose
blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers
are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo!
Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb!
Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows!
Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long
streets like endless Jehovahs! Moloch whose factories
dream and croak in the fog! Moloch whose
smokestacks and antennae crown the cities!
Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch
whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch
whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch
whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen!
Moloch whose name is the Mind!
Moloch in whom I sit lonely! Moloch in whom I dream
Angels! Crazy in Moloch! Cocksucker in
Moloch! Lacklove and manless in Moloch!
Moloch who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom
I am a consciousness without a body! Moloch
who frightened me out of my natural ecstasy!
Moloch whom I abandon! Wake up in Moloch!
Light streaming out of the sky!
Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs!
skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic
industries! spectral nations! invincible mad
houses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs!
They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pave-
ments, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to
Heaven which exists and is everywhere about us!
Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies!
gone down the American river!
Dreams! adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole
boatload of sensitive bullshit!
Breakthroughs! over the river! flips and crucifixions!
gone down the flood! Highs! Epiphanies! Despairs!
Ten years' animal screams and suicides!
Minds! New loves! Mad generation! down on
the rocks of Time!
Real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the
wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade farewell!
They jumped off the roof! to solitude! waving!
carrying flowers! Down to the river! into the street!
Carl Solomon! I'm with you in Rockland
where you're madder than I am
I'm with you in Rockland
where you must feel very strange
I'm with you in Rockland
where you imitate the shade of my mother
I'm with you in Rockland
where you've murdered your twelve secretaries
I'm with you in Rockland
where you laugh at this invisible humor
I'm with you in Rockland
where we are great writers on the same dreadful typewriter
I'm with you in Rockland
where your condition has become serious and
is reported on the radio
I'm with you in Rockland
where the faculties of the skull no longer admit
the worms of the senses
I'm with you in Rockland
where you drink the tea of the breasts of the
spinsters of Utica
I'm with you in Rockland
where you pun on the bodies of your nurses the
harpies of the Bronx
I'm with you in Rockland
where you scream in a straightjacket that you're
losing the game of the actual pingpong of the abyss
I'm with you in Rockland
where you bang on the catatonic piano the soul
is innocent and immortal it should never die
ungodly in an armed madhouse
I'm with you in Rockland
where fifty more shocks will never return your
soul to its body again from its pilgrimage to a
cross in the void
I'm with you in Rockland
where you accuse your doctors of insanity and
plot the Hebrew socialist revolution against the
fascist national Golgotha
I'm with you in Rockland
where you will split the heavens of Long Island
and resurrect your living human Jesus from the
I'm with you in Rockland
where there are twenty-five-thousand mad com-
rades all together singing the final stanzas of
I'm with you in Rockland
where we hug and kiss the United States under
our bedsheets the United States that coughs all
night and won't let us sleep
I'm with you in Rockland
where we wake up electrified out of the coma
by our own souls' airplanes roaring over the
roof they've come to drop angelic bombs the
hospital illuminates itself imaginary walls collapse
O skinny legions run outside O starry
spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is
here O victory forget your underwear we're free
I'm with you in Rockland
in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea-
journey on the highway across America in tears
to the door of my cottage in the Western night
America two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 1956.
I can’t stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb
I don’t feel good don’t bother me.
I won’t write my poem till I’m in my right mind.
America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?
America why are your libraries full of tears?
America when will you send your eggs to India?
I’m sick of your insane demands.
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?
America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world.
Your machinery is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint.
There must be some other way to settle this argument.
Burroughs is in Tangiers I don’t think he’ll come back it’s sinister.
Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke?
I’m trying to come to the point.
I refuse to give up my obsession.
America stop pushing I know what I’m doing.
America the plum blossoms are falling.
I haven’t read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on trial for
America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies.
America I used to be a communist when I was a kid and I’m not sorry.
I smoke marijuana every chance I get.
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses in the closet.
When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid.
My mind is made up there’s going to be trouble.
You should have seen me reading Marx.
My psychoanalyst thinks I’m perfectly right.
I won’t say the Lord’s Prayer.
I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations.
America I still haven’t told you what you did to Uncle Max after he came over
Are you going to let our emotional life be run by Time Magazine?
I’m obsessed by Time Magazine.
I read it every week.
Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore.
I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library.
It’s always telling me about responsibility. Businessmen are serious. Movie
producers are serious. Everybody’s serious but me.
It occurs to me that I am America.
I am talking to myself again.
I haven’t got a chinaman’s chance.
I’d better consider my national resources.
My national resources consist of two joints of marijuana millions of genitals
an unpublishable private literature that goes 1400 miles and hour and
twentyfivethousand mental institutions.
I say nothing about my prisons nor the millions of underpriviliged who live in
my flowerpots under the light of five hundred suns.
I have abolished the whorehouses of France, Tangiers is the next to go.
My ambition is to be President despite the fact that I’m a Catholic.
I will continue like Henry Ford my strophes are as individual as his
automobiles more so they’re all different sexes
America I will sell you strophes $2500 apiece $500 down on your old strophe
America free Tom Mooney
America save the Spanish Loyalists
America Sacco & Vanzetti must not die
America I am the Scottsboro boys.
America when I was seven momma took me to Communist Cell meetings they
sold us garbanzos a handful per ticket a ticket costs a nickel and the
speeches were free everybody was angelic and sentimental about the
workers it was all so sincere you have no idea what a good thing the party
was in 1935 Scott Nearing was a grand old man a real mensch Mother
Bloor made me cry I once saw Israel Amter plain. Everybody must have
been a spy.
America you don’re really want to go to war.
America it’s them bad Russians.
Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians.
The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia’s power mad. She wants to take
our cars from out our garages.
Her wants to grab Chicago. Her needs a Red Reader’s Digest. her wants our
auto plants in Siberia. Him big bureaucracy running our fillingstations.
That no good. Ugh. Him makes Indians learn read. Him need big black niggers.
Hah. Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help.
America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?
I’d better get right down to the job.
It’s true I don’t want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts
factories, I’m nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Women of the Beat Generation
The Beatnik Stereotype
Influences on Western Culture
Some essential effects of Beat Generation artistic movement can be characterized in the following terms: Spiritual liberation, sexual “revolution” or “liberation,” i.e., gay liberation, somewhat catalyzing women’s liberation, black liberation, Gray Panther activism. Liberation of the word from censorship. Demystification and/or decriminalization of some laws against marijuana and other drugs. The evolution of rhythm and blues into rock and roll as a high art form, as evidenced by the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and other popular musicians influenced in the later fifties and sixties by Beat generation poets’ and writers’ works. The spread of ecological consciousness, emphasized early on by Gary Snyder and Michael McClure, the notion of a “Fresh Planet.” Opposition to the military-industrial machine civilization, as emphasized in writings of Burroughs, Huncke, Ginsberg, and Kerouac. Attention to what Kerouac called (after Spengler) a “second religiousness” developing within an advanced civilization. Return to an appreciation of idiosyncrasy as against state regimentation. Respect for land and indigenous peoples and creatures, as proclaimed by Kerouac in his slogan from _On the Road_: “The Earth is an Indian thing.” The essence of the phrase “beat generation” may be found in _On the Road_ with the celebrated phrase: “Everything belongs to me because I am poor.”
- Gary Snyder read Pound early and was encouraged in his interests in Japan and China by Pound’s work.
- William Carlos Williams encouraged a number of beats and wrote a preface for Howl and other poems.
- Pound was also important to Allen Ginsberg and to most of the San Francisco Rennaissance group (Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, etc).
- H.D. was crucial to Robert Duncan.
- Rexroth published with the Objectivists.
- the Angries a group of post-war British writers with which the Beats are sometimes compared
- The Black Mountain poets (which John Cage was also associated with)
- The San Francisco Renaissance can be regarded as a separate movement of it’s own, with origins preceeding the beats.
Principal writings of the Beat Generation
- On the Road by Jack Kerouac (1957)
- Junky by William S. Burroughs(1953)
- Howl and other Poems by Allen Ginsberg (1956)
- Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs (1959)
- The First Third by Neal Cassady (1970)
- Minor Characters by Joyce Johnson (1983)
Some proto-beat writings
- The Town and the City* by Jack Kerouac (1950)
- Go by John Clellon Holmes (1952)
- Who Walk in Darkness by Chandler Brossard (1952)
- Flee the Angry Strangers by George Mandel (1952)
odwiedź stronę poświęconą Jackowi Kerouacowi
Jack Kerouac (March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969) was an American novelist, writer, poet, artist, and one of the most prominent members of the Beat Generation. His writings, most of which were autobiographical, revolved most of the time around his own adventures throughout the world, and also around some of his own ponderings and reflections that ensued during the course of his life.
Born Jean-Louis Lebris Kerouac, in Lowell, Massachusetts, to a family of Franco-Americans. His parents, Leo-Alcide Kerouac and Gabrielle-Ange Lévesque, were natives of The Province of Quebec in Canada. Like many other Quebecers of their generation, the Lévesques and Kerouacs emigrated to New England to find employment. Jack didn’t start to learn English until the age of six. At home, he and his family spoke Quebec French. At an early age, he was profoundly marked by the death of his elder brother Gérard, later prompting him to write the book Visions of Gerard.
In between his sea voyages, Kerouac stayed in New York with his friends from Columbia. He started writing his first novel, called The Town and the City, which was published in 1950 and earned him some respect as a writer.
Death and afterwards
He died on October 21, 1969 at St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida from an internal hemorrhage at the age of 47, the unfortunate result of a life of heavy drinking, seen by some as a way to overcome his shyness. He was living at the time with his third wife Stella, and his mother Gabrielle. He is buried in his home town of Lowell.
Kerouac’s most familiar work is On the Road. During his years of rejection by publishers, he wrote a number of mostly autobiographical books, some of which he carried around in manuscript form in his rucksack. His body of work includes:
Good Blonde and Others
Some of the Dharma
Old Angel Midnight
Heaven and Other Poems
Book of Blues
Mexico City Blues
Pomes All Sizes
Safe In Heaven Dead
Trip Trap: Haiku on the Road from Sf to Ny
Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters, 1940-1956
Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters, 1957-1969
The Town and the City
The Scripture of the Golden Eternity
Departed Angels: The Lost Paintings
Atop An Underwood: Early Stories and Other Writings
Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac
On The Road (ISBN 0140042598)
The Subterraneans (ISBN 0802131867)
Tristessa (ISBN 0140168117)
Visions of Gerard (ISBN 0140144528)
Doctor Sax (ISBN 0802130496)
Maggie Cassidy (ISBN 0140179062)
Visions of Cody (ISBN 0140179070)
The Dharma Bums (ISBN 0140042520)
Desolation Angels (ISBN 1573225053)
Big Sur (ISBN 0140168125)
Satori in Paris & Pic (ISBN 0802130615)
Vanity of Duluoz (ISBN 0140236392)
Orpheus Emerged (ISBN 0743475143)
The Jack Kerouac Collection [Box](Audio CD Collection)
Reads On The Road (Audio CD)
Dr Sax & Great World Snake (Play Adaptation with Audio CD)
His Influence on the World
The progressive rock group King Crimson paid tribute to Jack Kerouac and his works with their album “Beat”, which contained songs “Neal and Jack and me” and “Satori in Tangier”. A couple of other musicians also have songs talking about Kerouac, such as 10,000 Maniacs with “Hey Jack Kerouac”, Allan Taylor with “Kerouac’s Dream”, Subincision with “(I Want to Be Jack) Kerouac”, as well as Hot Sauce Johnson and Rusted Root with “Jack Kerouac”. His book On the Road is also referenced in a song by the rock group Our Lady Peace, a song called “All for You”.
Kicks Joy Darkness, a tribute album to Kerouac, features performances by several well-known artists, such as Johnny Depp, Hunter S. Thompson, Steven Tyler from Aerosmith, Michael Stipe from R.E.M., Joe Strummer from The Clash and Jeff Buckley.
The book On The Road can be seen laying on the dashboard of the car at the beginning of the music video for “Youth of the Nation”, by P.O.D., and can also be seen on Lisa’s bookshelf in an episode of The Simpsons. (Episode 7F07 – Bart vs. Thanksgiving In an episode of the TV show 3rd Rock From the Sun, now that high school’s over for him, Tommy wants to follow the lead of Jack Kerouac and hit the road. Later, he actually decides he’s ready to go to college, and Harry suggests maybe he can study Kerouac.
In episode 040 “Rebel Without a Clue” of the TV show Quantum Leap, Sam visits Kerouac in Big Sur during his time travels, in order to prevent a motorcycle gang leader’s girlfriend from being killed.
In one episode of the short-lived televison show Freaks and Geeks, Lindsay’s class has to write an essay on “On the Road”, and Lindsay disagrees with the teacher about the best interpretation of the work.
Actor Johnny Depp supposedly paid US$15,000 for a raincoat that Kerouac owned.
A street is named after him in San Francisco. (Jack Kerouac Alley at Columbus Avenue between City Lights Bookstore and Vesuvio Café.