WELSH GINSBERG

Image

The poem ‘Wales Visitation’ is important for lots of reasons – it’s an important Ginsberg poem, an important nature poem, an important psychedelic poem, an important Wales poem. It rolls and resonates hugely and is effortlessly unique. Somehow Ginsberg becomes a latter-day British Romantic musing on the natural sublime. Somehow he accesses and passes on reservoirs of Welsh mysticism. Its incredible mix of ingredients also include the London he had just left and would soon return to, where he wrote the poem. It’s a quintessential but slightly lesser-known work, an unsung enough 1967 classic. Iain Sinclair championed it at a London talk I saw, he himself of Welsh lineage. Ginsberg seems to have written it just after his participation in the Dialectics of Liberation at the Roundhouse. It was a conference about violence but the speaker who most impressed the non-violent Ginsberg was Gregory Bateson, speaking prophetically about the threat to the environment. This stayed with Ginsberg and came out again when he suddenly found himself in nature, on LSD. Note the keyword ‘Ecology’. At Dialectics he himself had spoken passionately about ‘Oneness’, and this reappears in the poem also. It seems one of those moments in time where everything comes together, and a work of art is made.

WALES VISITATION

White fog lifting & falling on mountain-brow
Trees moving in rivers of wind
The clouds arise
as on a wave, gigantic eddy lifting mist
above teeming ferns exquisitely swayed
along a green crag
glimpsed thru mullioned glass in valley rain-

Bardic, O Self, Visitacione, tell naught
but what seen by one man in a vale in Albion,
of the folk, whose physical sciences end in Ecology,
the wisdom of earthly relations,
of mouths & eyes interknit ten centuries visible
orchards of mind language manifest human,
of the satanic thistle that raises its horned symmetry
flowering above sister grass-daisies’ pink tiny
bloomlets angelic as lightbulbs-

Remember 160 miles from London’s symmetrical thorned tower
& network of TV pictures flashing bearded your Self
the lambs on the tree-nooked hillside this day bleating
heard in Blake’s old ear, & the silent thought of Wordsworth in eld
Stillness
clouds passing through skeleton arches of Tintern Abbey-
Bard Nameless as the Vast, babble to Vastness!

All the valley quivered, one extended motion, wind
undulating on mossy hills
a giant wash that sank white fog delicately down red runnels
on the mountainside
whose leaf-branch tendrils moved asway
in granitic undertow down-
and lifted the floating Nebulous upward, and lifted the arms of the trees
and lifted the grasses an instant in balance
and lifted the lambs to hold still
and lifted the green of the hill, in one solemn wave

A solid mass of Heaven, mist-infused, ebbs thru the vale,
a wavelet of Immensity, lapping gigantic through Llanthony Valley,
the length of all England, valley upon valley under Heaven’s ocean
tonned with cloud-hang,
-Heaven balanced on a grassblade.
Roar of the mountain wind slow, sigh of the body,
One Being on the mountainside stirring gently
Exquisite scales trembling everywhere in balance,
one motion thru the cloudy sky-floor shifting on the million feet of
daisies
one Majesty the motion that stirred wet grass quivering
to the farthest tendril of white fog poured down
through shivering flowers on the mountain’s head-

No imperfection in the budded mountain,
Valleys breathe, heaven and earth move together,
daisies push inches of yellow air, vegetables tremble,
grass shimmers green
sheep speckle the mountainside, revolving their jaws with empty eyes,
horses dance in the warm rain,
tree-lined canals network live farmland,
blueberries fringe stone walls on hawthorn’d hills,
pheasants croak on meadows haired with fern-

Out, out on the hillside, into the ocean sound, into delicate gusts of wet
air,
Fall on the ground, O great Wetness, O Mother, No harm on your body!
Stare close, no imperfection in the grass,
each flower Buddha-eye, repeating the story,
myriad-formed-
Kneel before the foxglove raising green buds, mauve bells drooped
doubled down the stem trembling antennae,
& look in the eyes of the branded lambs that stare
breathing stockstill under dripping hawthorn-
I lay down mixing my beard with the wet hair of the mountainside,
smelling the brown vagina-moist ground, harmless,
tasting the violet thistle-hair, sweetness-
One being so balanced, so vast, that its softest breath
moves every floweret in the stillness of the valley floor,
trembles lamb-hair hung gossamer rain-beaded in the grass,
lifts trees on their roots, birds in the great draught
hiding their strength in the rain, bearing same weight,

Groan thru breast and neck, a great Oh! to earth heart
Calling our Prescence together
The great secret is no secret
Senses fit the winds,
Visible is visible,
rain-mist curtains wave through the bearded vale,
gray atoms wet the wind’s kabbala
Crosslegged on a rock in dusk rain,
rubber booted in soft grass, mind moveless,
breath trembles in white daisies by the roadside,
Heaven breath and my own symmetric
Airs wavering thru antlered green fern
drawn in my navel, same breath as breathes thru Capel-Y-Ffin,
Sounds of Aleph and Aum
through forests of gristle,
my skull and Lord Hereford’s Knob equal,
All Albion one.

What did I notice? Particulars! The
vision of the great One is myriad-
smoke curls upward from ashtray,
house fire burned low,
The night, still wet & moody black heaven
starless
upward in motion with wet wind.

July 29, 1967 (LSD)-August 3, 1967 (London)

allen ginsberg

Below is Ginsberg in his prime attempting to read ‘Wales Visitation’ on American television, trying to overcome the resistance of Conservative chat-show host William Buckley Jr. (In fairness, if all Conservative chat-show hosts chose such interesting guests as Buckley did, TV would be superlatively better off).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKBAJYceQ54

Advertisements

About Niall McDevitt

Niall McDevitt > poet > author of b/w (Waterloo Press, 2010) and Porterloo (International Times, 2012) > urban explorer > radical pedestrian who leads Shakespeare/Blake/Rimbaud /Yeats walks, among others.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s