Literary Shelf

Things I'll Not Do (Nostalgias) by Allen Ginsberg

Never go to Bulgaria, had a booklet & invitation
Same Albania, invited last year, privately by Lottery scammers or recovering alcoholics,
Or enlightened poets of the antique land of Hades Gates
Nor visit Lhasa live in Hilton or Ngawang Gelek’s household & weary ascend Potala
Nor ever return to Kashi “oldest continuously habited city in the world”
bathe in Ganges & sit again at Manikarnika ghat with Peter,
visit Lord Jagganath again in Puri, never back to Bibhum take notes tales of Khaki B Baba
Or hear music festivals in Madras with Philip
Or enter to have Chai with older Sunil & Young coffeeshop poets,
Tie my head on a block in the Chinatown opium den, pass by Moslem
Hotel, its rooftop Tinsmith Street Choudui Chowh Nimtallah
Burning ground nor smoke ganja on the Hooghly
Nor the alleyways of Achmed’s Fez, nevermore drink mint tea at Soco Chico, visit Paul B. in Tangiers
Or see the Sphinx in Desert at Sunrise or sunset, morn & dusk in the desert
Ancient sollapsed Beirut, sad bombed Babylon & Ur of old, Syria’s grim mysteries all Araby & Saudi Deserts, Yemen’s sprightly folk,
Old opium tribal Afghanistan, Tibet – Templed Beluchistan
See Shangha again, nor cares of Dunhuang
Nor climb E. 12th Street’s stairway 3 flights again,
Nor go to literary Argentina, accompany Glass to Sao Paolo & live a month in a flat Rio’s beaches and favella boys, Bahia’s great Carnival
Nor more daydream of Bali, too far Adelaide’s festival to get new scent sticks
Not see the new slums of Jakarta, mysterious Borneo forests & painted men and women
Nor mor Sunset Boulevard, Melrose Avenue, Oz on Ocean Way
Old cousin Danny Leegant, memories of Aunt Edith in Santa Monica
No mor sweet summers with lovers, teaching Blake at naropa,
Mind Writing Slogans, new modern American Poetics, Williams Kerouac Reznikoff Rakosi Corso Creely Orlovsky
Any visits to B’nai Israel graves of Buda, Aunt Rose, Harry Meltzer and Aunt Clara, Father Louis
Not myself except in an urn of ashes
– March 30, 1997, A.M. Allen Ginsberg

When he breathed his last, sometime before he wrote the poem which is but a visit and re-visit of his memory and reflection, nostalgia and homesickness, journey around the world and the intimacies made and felt from time to time, created, recreated always deriving and delving deep to draw it from and to dwell upon. Allen Ginsberg took a note of that and felt it when lying sick and ailing. It was his counterculture which took him to, it was his beat tradition, the hippie culture, the anti-establishment thought, drug absorption, addiction, recuperation and search for happiness and peace which but led him, away from America to India, Buddha and Buddhism, Tibet and Vietnam and he felt peace at least in thinking about or visiting or sympathising with.

He was a poet of counterculture, he was a poet of anti-establishment, he was a poet of hippie culture, he was a poet of beat tradition, he was a socialist, a democrat, a republican and what not, a gypsy, a wanderer, a rambler, a vagabond he was a poet of America so anti-American, anti-capitalist. As a poet he was both a Whitman and a Blake as he imbibed in their trends and tendencies in his poetry. A Western he was so Eastern in his vision and visionary glides mapping the old world of ancient civilization and culture and drawing and deriving it from. A sadhu he was, of the Himalayan ranges and landscapes, brooding over the snow-capped peaks of the mountain and its fringes, metaphysical height and ascension, transcendental vision and imaginary glide. His company with the saints and sadhus, wanderers and ramblers, mendicants and minstrels tell many a tale said or unsaid. A traveller he was from America, from the West to the East ever in search of peace and happiness. Away from materialistic pursuits, what is it in spiritual purview? He wanted to delve into the realms. But something went it wrong when he took to narcotics, drugs, alcohol and addictive stuffs as for taking an impetus which rather than giving made him desperately balancing in between sanity and recuperation. He got misled and the things too mesmerized it but searched and re-searched too while trying to recuperate, but it got late. In him had it the spark of Lawrence, Shaw and Orwell who went constructing not, de-constructing the colonial myth with. His mental health turned it into a problem. Into the Baba’s Ashrama, he mediated it, under the Buddha’s peepul tree, with the minstrel sang he the Baul songs, enjoying teacups into the streets and gossips of the mendicants and smokers, beating the heat and dust of Indian summer and the chill of the harshest winter. But there is no doubt in it that he was on a mission to find and search what it could be precious for humanity. He would have ganja in the company of the vagrants, mendicants and minstrels, he would have abstained from, he would have experimented a bit and would have desisted too from while trying to search and re-search.

The poem is a record, a biography of what he did and what he did not, where he visited and where not, what he ought to have and what not. But whatever did he did it at his own expanse. Now to sum up, to wind up it all, his is a footnote with regard to his wandering in search of peace and happiness, Himalayan wisdom and transcendental meditation away from materialistic pleasure and pursuit. But too much of alcoholism and psychedelic drugs, marijuana and gay life devastated it all.

Where to go and what to dream about? There is nothing remnant of or something as the residue of meaning. This is time to be back home. Just an urn is the end of the story.

In his negative statement too there lies in something positive, as positivity and negativity go side by side and in his negativity lies it positivity and vice versa.

Never go to Bulgaria as had an invitation and a book from. Albania too invited. But who goes there? The mood is different, the times too are proper to undertake, dialogues too taking their turn to reflect upon the time spirit fleeting or fled by. Do not go to Lhasa. Even why to be in Kashi by the Ganga-side enjoying a boat ride or seeing the Ganga arti or in the company of babas, sadhus and mendicants? The ghats of Benares and the Shiva temple of Kashi with the tolls striking and Om namah Shivay breaking the lull of, this much mesmerizes it all. What more to say it about the gossips, friendships and idle talks? The growing bazaars and olden temples of India, but the same folks and their scenarios one of ancient culture and civilization so synthetic and intrinsic was the thing to understand and grapple with. The visit of Jagannath Puri taking him to Orissa, Puri and he lost in hearing about the myths Puranic and folksy, the strange deities housed in the sanctum sanctorum and the rathyatra. The tribal Afghanistan taking the puffs of ganja or eating opium, he saw it. While in Calcutta, he would have definitely Kalighat, would have by the Ganga, sometimes enjoy ganja in the company of the ganja-takers. If Coleridge is an opium-taker, Ginsberg is a ganja-taker and this spoils him, alcoholism, addiction and waywardness. Unstable, bohemian and gay life cannot give it permanent happiness though may inspire creativity. So, recuperation takes to its recourse in his poetry and keeps wandering as a vagabond. To read him is to experience something of the Vyom, Om of the Marabar caves of Forster’s A Passage to India. Sometimes the company with the Bengali poets he recounts, sometimes the moments spent with the Khaki Baba disciples and the Bauls of Birbhum. A tryst with the chai, chai of the chaiwallahs of Calcutta, the tea-selling hawkers he would have definitely needless to mention it here. The Chinese restaurants and places he frequented he did not forget them. Bali, the daydreams of it, he has not forgotten. The slums of Jakarta, mysterious Borneo forests and the painted men and women, why to see them? Where will the mind go and what to remember? The sea coasts, beaches, resorts and shores passed in the company of lovers, talking of love, joy and friendship, what it to reminisce?

Allen discusses the chit-chats, titbits of talks, taking of tea and the types of tea he takes while in Calcutta and continuing with Modi’s chai par baatchit, chats on tea or while sipping it. The names of some of the babas he takes which he might have at Benares, Jayadeva Mela or the Khaki Baba Ashrama or in the Himalayas, into whose company he might have lived. In search of the old and the new worlds, where did he not move to, searching the guys and the folks to tell about? Khaki Baba’s glory would have engaged his mind. The burial grounds, the burning grounds and the Romeo addas, he would not have left it from visiting. Allen Ginsberg is in the maximum a Calcutta poet and his poetry Calcuttan poetry, sometimes it is a city of joy, sometimes a bit different from and his poems as if were Calcutta diaries. He can even tell it where the young guys do it love-making, where it the meeting places of Romeo and Juliettes and where the ganjeries’ addas, sit-ins as for to smoke and enjoy. But can ganja give it happiness? To bathe in the Ganges and to sit at Manikarnika Ghat of Vishwanath Kashi, the older crematorium ground attached to the temple and its complex by the side of the sacred river. He can even say it all that. The music festivals of Madras he can also relate to.

The holy graves of the saintly Jews too may not be. What it to do with slogan writing, bill sticking, fighting for rights, talking of civil movements, freedom of speech and expression and holding of banners and placards and the displaying of the grafitti? Nothing to do with American poetics and American trends and tendencies. Baluchistan, even now Buddha statues can be dug out. Once Gandhara art used to hold its sway over. Now the tribals in their dens keep smoking opium in Afghanistan. What more to say about the deserts? How was it Babylon? What civilization did it flourish it thereon?

To know Allen Ginsberg is to know his connection, Benares connections, Calcutta connections, Lhasa connections and the Himalayan connections. A Phatihaley Baba, a Rag-tag Baba, what more to say it about? Stay at Lhasa hotel or at the lama’s house. The Potala Palace the dozing palace of Lhasa, Tibet, he also bars from visiting. But does it from his heart? The answer is clearly ‘no’. The coffee shop poets of Calcutta or the poets doing communism, sipping ups of tea and doing extempore poetry he also carries it along as for he has not their company and gossips which, but he remembers them now and wants to sum up it all what he saw and what felt it as a traveller, a workshop poet, a field man. Neither Shangha nor Dunhuang, the Chinese cities and places, do not go to.

Did he come to notice the lover couples and pairs making artificial love near Victoria Memorial, Calcutta? He perhaps did!

Do not go to Argentina, going through literary pamphlets. The carnivals and beaches too need not visited. Sao Paula’s glass box viewing and the visitors thronging and scary of side by side calls for a spectacle to be remembered indirectly. The favella, urban slum children going out for a surf in Rio, he has not forgotten, but to it he also debars from visiting. Carnival balls and parades of Brazil, even that he intends it not seeing.

Perhaps the mood is one of departure and going, saying goodbye to all, taking leave of and he is just briefing about all that he has experienced and seen in life.

We may go through his Sunflower Sutra. September on Jessore Road and the hand note which he gave in the form of a poem before his death, telling of what he loved, what not, where he moved, where not. But he loved and liked it all, just keeping a track of all that. Counter culture, gypsy living, anti-establishment stance, bohemian life, romanticism, hippie movement, Oriental, etc. are some of the trends and tendencies acting for the Beat tradition, the Beatles in the making, but above all something lay it in pop culture and governmental mistake of being arrogant and capitalist in stance and policy-making without taking the public in confidence and somewhere it erred too, but what brought it ruin was their protest seconded with addiction, digression and waywardness which so much made the way for and at the same time gave a tougher time to grapple with mental calm and sanity, health and happiness finally turning into a vagrant, a vagabond, a wanderer in the company of mendicants, to see it otherwise Yeats learning from Swami Purohit, Kipling trying to understand Buddhism in Kim and Huxley coming India to visit Benares and Ginsberg in the company of mendicants, sadhus and vagrants, how to describe the plethora of thoughts and ideas? Sometimes materialistic pleasure took a toll upon, and they failed to understand when reared in bounty. But away from when digressed and deviated, where to get mental peace? That was which maligned the self of a generation but the govt. drunken with power could not understand, read their minds, the minds of a generation not so involved in power-politics. To see it differently. Such was also the case with the characters of E.M. Forster in the Maravar Caves hearing Vyom, Om in A Passage to India. Had he taken to Buddha's the Middle Path, it would have been otherwise, but he dwelt apart and stood from, got swayed and gained too and lost too by the way of upheavals and repercussions, trying to heal, gain and recuperate too utmost.

His is a cult poetry, a poetry of the Beat tradition, music, dance, romance and ideas; his is a joy of living to be felt it a fresh away from the world is too much with us, Browning complaining about Wordsworth in The Lost Leader; his is Auden's Unknown Citizen being installed at the town square and he deriving from common man philosophy of socialism and of the chartering and demarcation of Hare Rama, Hare Krishna Movement. But where did that ananda lie in? Divine Ananda? Not in drugs, alcoholism and marijuana and that too has a limit and if cross you the limit, you will be ruined, the same is the case with. Happiness in communistic camaraderie, bonhomie and gay affinities, it cannot be. Happiness is but an inner state of mind. And Eliot, even though with a pastiche of quotations and allusions and the mosaic work, chants the Upanishadic mantra for world peace in The Waste Land 'Om shantih shantih shantih'. The same trend in Bob Dylan is carried it forward with the images of the music-makers, poetry-makers and visionaries from Blake to Whitman to Ginsberg to the present vibes and beats of America, catching the nuances and idiosyncrasies of the new generation and its times, the rhythms of speech, the rhythms of life.

Let us take him for the time being as a disciple of Gour Nitai, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and he with the cymbals and the musical folks singing Hare Rama, Hare Krishna and dancing joyfully with the images of the ISKCON and the ISKCONites, the foreigner a Radha, the foreigner a Krishna, think of his ananda, delight, Divine Delight, Paramananda and this too is not wandered he in the company of babas and sadhus, mendicants and vagrants smoking marijuana and in the company of the Bauls, one-stringed minstrels of love and ananda. The same images and pictures of lost love, remembrances, memoirs and the residues of meaning can be traced back in the affinities and relationships deepening it otherwise in an expressive art form as it is in Bob too developing from the hipsters, folksy, chapel, jazz, rock n' roll and pop trends and traditions and this too is not even several songwriters lie therein carried to the Bauls of India. The guitarist's song and music everybody likes it, isn't it the truth?

To see it otherwise, it is but a Coleridgean Kubla Khan’s poem; a ganjeri baba’s poem applying it all, holistic healing, drugs, herbals, meditation, prayer, penance and it all. It is said, A sadhu’s manna is Vrindavan and so are the things here, the things of his heart. Just an urn of ashes is enough to finish it, wipe it all, mixing with the Five Elements, the Panchatattva into which the body vanishes it. This is what he wants, expects from. To see it otherwise, George Bernard Shaw too was cremated, and his ashes were scattered into his garden where lies his memorial.


More by :  Bijay Kant Dubey

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