My Sad Self

To Frank O’Hara

Sometimes when my eyes are red
I go up on top of the RCA Building
and gaze at my world, Manhattan—
my buildings, streets I’ve done feats in,
lofts, beds, coldwater flats
—on Fifth Ave below which I also bear in mind,
its ant cars, little yellow taxis, men
walking the size of specks of wool—
Panorama of the bridges, sunrise over Brooklyn machine,
sun go down over New Jersey where I was born
& Paterson where I played with ants—
my later loves on 15th Street,
my greater loves of Lower East Side,
my once fabulous amours in the Bronx
faraway—
paths crossing in these hidden streets,
my history summed up, my absences
and ecstasies in Harlem—
—sun shining down on all I own
in one eyeblink to the horizon
in my last eternity—
matter is water.


Sad,
I take the elevator and go
down, pondering,
and walk on the pavements staring into all man’s
plateglass, faces,
questioning after who loves,
and stop, bemused
in front of an automobile shopwindow
standing lost in calm thought,
traffic moving up & down 5th Avenue blocks behind me
waiting for a moment when ...


Time to go home & cook supper & listen to
the romantic war news on the radio
... all movement stops
& I walk in the timeless sadness of existence,
tenderness flowing thru the buildings,
my fingertips touching reality’s face,
my own face streaked with tears in the mirror
of some window—at dusk—
where I have no desire—
for bonbons—or to own the dresses or Japanese
lampshades of intellection—


Confused by the spectacle around me,
Man struggling up the street
with packages, newspapers,
ties, beautiful suits
toward his desire
Man, woman, streaming over the pavements
red lights clocking hurried watches &
movements at the curb—


And all these streets leading
so crosswise, honking, lengthily,
by avenues
stalked by high buildings or crusted into slums
thru such halting traffic
screaming cars and engines
so painfully to this
countryside, this graveyard
this stillness
on deathbed or mountain
once seen
never regained or desired
in the mind to come
where all Manhattan that I’ve seen must disappear.

by Allen Ginsberg

Comments (9)

Ginsberg takes you to the Lower East side of Manhattan, where he lived, but also in other coldwater flats somewhere else in Manhattan-his whole world. He sees men with 'plate glass faces', 'avenues/ stalked by high buildings or crusted into slums'. The poem sparkles with brilliant imagery, and makes me want to go to New York, New Jersey, Paterson, and especially Manhattan.
fantastic explanation but unique style.
Wonderful imaginary. Beautiful poem on city life.
i've never read this ginsberg poem before that i can remember, but this will take the place among a few favorites. as in other ginsberg poems, he uses plain and unpretentious language in this meditation that is his meditation but feels familiar, evoking the bittersweet feeling of this passing life. glen kappy
This graveyard! ! Thanks for sharing.
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