Friday, June 26, 2009

Piccolo Paradiso, a poem by Harold Norse.

Harold Norse, a San Francisco poet often associated with the Beats, died recently at the age of 92. He was mentor or peer to many of the greatest talents in 20th century American literature, including Tennessee Williams, James Baldwin, Allen Ginsberg and Charles Bukowski. He earned a bachelor's degree at Brooklyn College in 1938 and a master's from New York University in 1951. His work appeared in many prestigious publications, including Poetry magazine, the Paris Review and Saturday Review.
A pioneer of gay poetry written in plain english, he was called the best poet of his generation by William Carlos Williams. However, Norse never attained the recognition that he and others felt was his due. "I had a big ego," he told the San Francisco Weekly in 2000, "but I always said - and it was a stupid thing that I lived by - 'I won't lift a finger to publicize my work. It has to come from the outside.' So in a way I buried myself."

Piccolo Paradiso by Harold Norse

let the age hang itself! we've had
four marvelous days together
no news reports only music
& no serious discussions

plenty of wine the best
from the islands
falerno & ischian
& lacrima cristi
we've made up
for months
of loneliness
hard work
of 'superiors'

we may not live
very well or long
our mistakes are perhaps too great
to bear correction
at this midpoint
of our lives (you're somewhat younger)
surely too great
to make up for the lengths we go
to hide them

e cosi...that's
how it goes

but at least
we're ahead of the game

we've stolen a march
on the dead the herd

if the return to grayness
sharp tempered weapons
of those who force life
into corners
is more than we can bear
remember this
the wine
the ladder
of stars that climb
vesuvius outside
my window
the waves
banging into smooth
tufa caves

& the opera
as we lay together

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