Art of the Day — Poem: “SEPT. 16, 1961, POEM” (1962) by Jack Kerouac

  May 7th, 2012


SEPT. 16, 1961, POEM

How awfully sad I felt thinking of my sleeping mother in her bed that she’ll die someday tho she herself always says “death is nothing to worry about, from this life we start to another” How awfully sad I felt anyway - - That have no wine to make me forget my rotting teeth is bad enough but that my whole body is rotting and my mother’s body is rotting towards death, it’s all so insanely sad. I went outside in the pure dawn: but why should I be glad about a dawn that dawns on another rumor of war, and why should I be sad: isnt the air at least pure and fresh? I looked at the flowers on the bush: one of them had fallen: another was just bloomed open: neither of them were sad or glad. I suddenly realized all things just come and go including any feeling of sadness: that too will go: sad today glad tomorrow: somber today drunk tomorrow: why fret so much? Everybody in the world has flaws just like me. Why should I put myself down? Which is a feeling just coming to go. Everything comes and goes. How good it is! Evil wars wont stay forever! Pleasant forms also go. Since everything just comes and goes O why be sad? or glad? Sick today healthy tomorrow. But O I’m so sad just the same! Just coming and going all over the place, the place itself coming and going. We’ll all end up in heaven anyway, together in that golden eternal bliss I saw. O how damned sad I cant write about it well. This is an attempt at the easy lightness of Ciardian poetry. I should really use my own way. But that too will go, worries about style. About sadness. My little happy purring cat hates doors! And sometimes he’s sad and silent, hot nose, sighs, and a little heartbroken mew. There go the birds, flying west a moment. Who’s going to ever know the world before it goes?

     For today’s art of the day: one of my favorite Kerouac poems — maybe my favorite: “Sept. 16, 1961, Poem” (first published in The Outsider, 1962; later collected in Scattered Poems, City Lights books, 1970). I love the simple clear language, the humility, and above all the sense of self-discovery and movement: movement from despair & horror to open wonder and acceptance of change and passing. Then back to self-wrangling over issues of expression, then back to a surrender to the All-change. For me the core beauty of this poem is how lucidly it portrays to the reader a smart, seeking, sorrowful mind in restless motion.


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[posted by C Way at 11:50 PM]


[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| poetry ]

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