Allen Ginsberg – Haiku

From Allen’s Journals (Fall, 1955):

“1) All conversation – “I need a spoon to eat soup” – is bridging
Ellipse, all my talk is haiku
2) The Western image (metaphor the apt relation of dissimilars –
Aristotle) is compressed haiku
3) Study of primary forms of ellipse, naked haiku, useful for
advancement of practice of western metaphor
4) Haiku = objective images written down outside mind the result is
inevitable mind sensation of relations. Never try to write of relations
themselves, just the images which are all that can be written down
on the subject (conversation w/ [Peter] Du Peru.)”

Fresh, in time for the Twitter-verse (sic!), 21 “Haiku”, “composed in the backyard cottage at 1624 Milvia Street, Berkeley, 1955, while reading R.H.Blyth’s 4 volumes, Haiku“:

Drinking my tea/Without sugar -/ No difference.

The sparrow shits/ upside down/ – ah! my brains & eggs!

Mayan head in a/Pacific driftwood bole/ – Someday I’ll live in N.Y.

Looking over my shoulder/my behind was covered/ with cherry blossoms.

(Winter Haiku) – I didn’t know the names/ of the flowers – now/my garden is gone.

I slapped the mosquito/ and missed/ What made me do that?

Reading haiku/I am unhappy/longing for the Nameless.

A frog floating/ in the Drugstore jar:/summer rain on grey pavements (after Shiki)

On the porch/in my shorts/auto lights in the rain

Another year/has past – the world/is no different.

The first thing I looked for/in my old garden was/The Cherry Tree

My old desk:/the first thing I looked for/in my house.

My early journal:/the first thing I found/ in my old desk.

My mother’s ghost:/the first thing I found/ in the living room.

I quit shaving/but the eyes that glanced at me/remained in the mirror.

The madman/ emerges from the movies:/the street at lunchtime.

Cities of boys/are in their graves,/and in this town…

Lying on my side/in the void/The breath in my nose.

On the fiftteenth floor/the dog chews a bone – /Screech of taxicabs.

A hard-on in New York,/a boy/in San Francisco.

The moon over the roof,/worms in the garden/ I rent this house.

We’ve already mentioned Sabine Sommerkamp’s perceptive essay, “The Function of Haiku in the Development of Ginsberg’s “Howl” [these haiku were written “sometime between the end of July and the middle of September, 1955”, the same time as his masterpiece, “Howl”].

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