Introduction to Poets: Lawrence Ferlinghetti

by Mark Chmiel

In late August, we will resume our monthly Introduction to Poets gathering.

I will be happy to share on the life and work of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, whom I would occasionally see on the streets of North Beach, San Francisco in the days when I studied in Berkeley.

For those friends who are reading my manuscript, Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine, I should say Ferlinghetti has been a strong influence on me. He’s a national treasure!

Here’s a small taste, one of his poems from the last decade.

“PITY THE NATION”
(After Khalil Gibran)

Pity the nation whose people are sheep
And whose shepherds mislead them
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars
Whose sages are silenced
And whose bigots haunt the airwaves
Pity the nation that raises not its voice
Except to praise conquerers
And acclaim the bully as hero
And aims to rule the world
By force and by torture
Pity the nation that knows
No other language but its own
And no other culture but its own
Pity the nation whose breath is money
And sleeps the sleep of the too well fed
Pity the nation oh pity the people
who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away

My country, tears of thee
Sweet land of liberty!

Banned Books Ferlinghetti

Lawrence Ferlighetti, outside his City Lights Bookstore in North Beach, San Franscico.
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