Revisiting Jack Kerouac’s Poems – 1

AG: We don’t have that (Jack) Kerouac poem, let’s see -Kerouac’s serious death shot (you know, mortality) was a poem that ends “Poor!  I wish I were…”  [“Poor! I wish I was..”] – Yeah, I got it, okay… number 211 (in Mexico City Blues)  – (the) 211th Chorus, in Kerouac.. Just to bring this up to “Like To The Falling of A Star” or the little (George) Herbert poem that we had wherein all died – “Virtue”? – “The root is ever in its grave/ And thou must die”, “My music shows ye have your closes,/ And all must die.”. So this is Kerouac on the same, somewhat on the same subject – (because people were questioning the subject – “why write about death?”, you know) – So a couple of Kerouac’s poems are on the general subject of death – [ Allen begins reading and reads Chorus 211 in its entirety] – “The wheel of the quivering meat/ conception/Turns in the void expelling human beings,/Pigs, turtles, frogs, insects, nits…”….”Poor!/I wish I was free/of that slaving meat wheel/and safe in heaven dead”

And then the next chorus, (Chorus) 212 – [Allen, likewise reads Chorus 212 in its entirety] –  “All of this meat is in dreadful pain/Anytime circumstances attain/To its attention like a servant .And pricking goads invest the flesh/And it quivers, meat, and owner cries/And wishes “Why was I born with a body,/Why do I have this painful hive/ Of hope-of-honey-milk yet bane/Of bitterest reward, as if, to wish/For flesh was sin alone itself – ?/And now you gotta pay rhinoceros/ and you/ Tho’ his hide’s toughern ten young men/Armed with picks against the Grim/Reaper/Whose scythe is prededed by pitchforks/Of temptation & hell, the Horror/ Think of pain, you’re being hurt,/Hurry, hurry, think of pain/Before they make a fool of you/And discover that you don’t feel/It’s the best possible privilege /To be alive just to die/ And die in denizen of misery.”

That’s a little bit of a .. well, I kept saying, remember, that, that’s right, I kept,..the last time..repeating Kerouac’s appreciation of “long” – “long-love-acquainted eyes” – here’s his paraphrase of that – “Why was I born with a body/Why do I have this painful hive/ of hope-of-honey-milk yet bane/ Of bitterst reward” – (I have this painful hive – slash – of hope -hyphen – of honey – hyphen – milk – “of hope-of honey-milk yet bane/ Of bitterest reward” – It’s a nice Shakespearean line -“Why was I born with a body.Why do I have this painful hive/ of hope-of honey-milk yet bane/ Of bitterest reward, as if to wish,/ For flesh were sin alone itself -?”) –            So that’s another little…

Peter Orlovsky: What does “bane” mean?

AG: “Bane” is curse. Well, pain/bain/curse… banishment?, no, “what bane..” – ill winds…

Student: He’s talking about death..

AG: Death. “Bane of bitter..” “bane” is death

Student- Ratsbane

AG: Ah, Henbane

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately fifty-three-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately fifty-seven-and-three-quarter minutes in]

to be continued…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *