Allen Ginsberg’s February 1977 reading at Hewlett-Woodmere Public Library, (Hewlett, New York) continues from here
AG: “..we’ll do about another thirty minutes so we don’t keep anybody here too long. What I want to begin with is another mantra or body-sound, (which you can participate in, assuming you’ve got bodies and sounds). The words are very easy. It’s only one word and only one syllable – its “AH!” – it’s the mantra “AH” – “OM” – AH” -“HUM” – “AH” is purification of speech traditionally in Buddhist practice (which is also “Ah” in American practice, or in Yiddish practice, “Ah?” ), appreciation of the space where we are actually breathing – “Ah!” – It’s a measure of the breath out of the body. So, it’s awareness of breath, mixing breath with space, mixing mind with breath, mixing mind with space, putting your mind out of your.. let us say, body, out of the ego-state centered body and into these states that we occupy in common – “AH!” – So no claustrophobia – real easy- (it’s) breathing.. They’re in different chords...I’ll just do it slowly. It’s best if you sit up straight to do that, if you want to.. if you slump later…right now, relax, appreciating here we are all together, the infinite spaces of the universe that center of the Woodmere itself.
AG leads audience in group mantra recitation – AH!….
That was excellent. So, in relation to that, I practice meditation, which basically is following the breath ou,t like that, generally out of the nose. Generally in Sanskrit it’s called samatha, It’s a very classical, old old form of Buddhist meditation, sitting up straight, ears in line with the shoulders, nose in line with belly-button, eyes open, not tripping, not going into a mystical swoon just the actual space where we are, like, this space, as the Great Void, this space, here, already. This space, you don’t have to look elsewhere. And breathing into that space, also paying attention to the breath. So that, as one breathes through the nostrils, mind tends to wander away into daydreams, and then one wakes, “Ah, there I was in Manhasset (back to Woodmere, here)” .. back to the… close to the nose again. So returning close to the nose always, returning to where we are .So it’s, in fact, sitting practice, practice in wakening from daydream, wakening from creating other universes. The reason I’m explaining this is the next poem is a poem written during a long period of sitting meditation several years ago. I was with a group of Buddhist friends and we all sat ten hours a day like this. Breakfast, break it up, sit a couple of hours, break it up for lunch, sit, tea, sit, more supper, sit – ten hours for several months . See, we got into, like, a complete examination of all the interruptions of consciousness. It was in Teton Village, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, near the Teton Mountains, in a place we had taken over for the Fall, which was off-season (an old ski-lift was there, the ski country), so took the cafeteria over, like, a room about this size (sic), but sitting pillows and rugs on the floor. A place like this, where the teacher, the meditation teacher, sat with a microphone and lectured every evening, Those are, like, footnotes so you know what’s going on.”
Allen then reads “Mind Breaths”.(“Thus crosslegged on round pillow sat in Teton Space….”….”a calm breath, a silent breath, a slow breath breathes outward from the nostrils”)
“Now a poem about the Mid-East crisis, the eternal Mid-East..called. (is he awake?) ” Jahweh and Allah Battle” – Jahweh and Allah Battle. [Editorial note – Zev Golan notes “The poem…about the Israeli-Arab conflict (“Jaweh and Allah Battle”) was written in January 1974, two or three months after the devastation of the Yom Kippur War and obviously impacted by it.] (“Jahweh with Atom bomb/Allah cuts throat of Infidels…”…”OIY! AH! HU! OY! AH! HU!/SHALOM! SHANTIH! SALAAM!”)
“(The) last poem comes out of the last week’s, this week’s, newspaper headlines. This is the last longish poem (that I want to read) You may have read over the last week or so, first, the Justice Department announced that it had investigated itself and that did not really kill Martin Luther King (I read that in the papers.. The Justice Department came up with a report saying that, the FBI announced it and the Justice Department agreed, that they did not kill Martin Luther King. It is true that they persecuted him for nine years, it is true that they don’t know where the actual killer got all his money, and it is true that the actual killer, James Earl Ray, said it wasn’t him alone, it was a conspiracy. It’s true he’s been trying to get in court for years, but the Justice Department announced that it didn’t kill him, and if there was any unsolved thing it was just like any other murder – who knows? (You all read that in the papers, I guess last week?) Then the new Attorney General said, “Well”, two days later, “Well, I guess, there’s still unanswered questions , maybe you better talk to Mr Ray”. So this, of course, is, in a small manner, the key- one of many many many many illuminations of the police state, or police bureaucracy, police state activity (that) has been widespread, more widespread than any of us have realized. So here is a poem talking about that, written about a year and a half ago- (“Hadda be Playing on the Jukebox “) –
Allen reads “Hadda be Playing on the Jukebox” (“Hadda be flashing like the Daily Double/ Hadda be playing on Tee Vee…”….”Hadda murder in America”)
Last poem. I’ll just recite one poem and sing one song (sic a Blake song not included here) and we’ll leave by quarter of five.
Allen recites “The Rune” from “Contest of Bards” – (“Where the years have gone, where the clouds have flown..”…..”We die neither blest nor with curse confessed/. wanting Earth’s worst Best:/But return where all Beauties rest”)