The Unbearable Banishment: A fine man, a fine poem

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A fine man, a fine poem

I haven't posted a Bukowski poem for a long time and it's time for a dosage. This is widely considered to be Bukowski's masterpiece. It's pretty angry stuff and it's not for everyone, but hang in there. Take your medicine. It's good for you. It was written in 1966 and I think it speaks volumes about the state of contemporary American culture and politics.

The Genius of the Crowd

There is enough treachery, hatred,
     violence,
Absurdity in the average human
     being
To supply any given army on any given
  day
AND The Best At Murder Are Those
  Who Preach LOVE
AND THE BEST AT WAR
—FINALLY—ARE THOSE WHO
PREACH
     PEACE

Those Who Preach GOD
  NEED God
Those Who Preach PEACE
  Do Not Have PEACE
THOSE WHO PREACH LOVE
  DO NOT HAVE LOVE
BEWARE THE PREACHERS
Beware The Knowers

     Beware
     Those Who
     Are ALWAYS
     READING
     BOOKS

Beware Those Who Either Detest
  Poverty Or Are Proud Of It

BEWARE Those Quick to Praise
For they Need PRAISE In Return

BEWARE Those Quick To Censure
They Are Afraid Of What They Do
Not Know

Beware Those Who Seek Constant
Crowds; They are Nothing
Alone

     Beware
     The Average Man
     The Average Woman
     BEWARE Their Love

Thier Love Is Average, Seeks
Average
But There Is Genius In Their Hatred
There Is Enough Genius In Their
Hatred To Kill You, To Kill
Anybody.

Not Wanting Solitude
Not Understanding Solitude
The Will Attempt To Destroy
Anything
That Differs
From Their Own

     Not Being Able
     To Create Art
     They Will Not
     Understand Art

They Will Consider Their Failure
As Creators
Only As A Failure
Of The World

Not Being Able To Love Fully
They Will BELIEVE Your Love
Incomplete
AND THEN THEY WILL HATE
YOU

And Their Hatred Will Be Perfect
Like A Shining Diamond
Like A Knife
LIke A Mountain
LIKE A TIGER
LIKE Hemlock

     Their Finest
     Art

10 Comments:

Blogger Pueblo girl said...

A modern-day Desiderata, perhaps?

January 27, 2010 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger Leah said...

I LOVE HIM. This is electrifyingly, cracklingly perfect. Thanks so much for reminding me of it.

January 27, 2010 at 9:09 AM  
Blogger Poindexter said...

I don't know, at first it seems an astute reflection of modern society, but then it just seems like cynicism. What do you think?

January 27, 2010 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

PG: Actually, I don't know who that is. But I will...

Leah: I'm a big fan of his, too. Actually, in my spar time I'm a small-time rare book dealer/collector and I have one of the most prominent collections of Bukowski rarities on the East Coat. [Look, I don't have a lot to brag on, so when I get the chance...]

Point: It's funny you should mention that. I read this last night and this was the first time I thought the poem dripped with a bit too much cynicism. But you have to allow that he had a pretty terrible life and that his misfortunes were reflected in his writings.

January 27, 2010 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger Pueblo girl said...

The Desiderata is what I now consider a fairly corny text offering "life advice". I liked it when I was about 18. The bit about steering clear of aggravatingly noisy persons (rough approximation) has stayed with me though.
Not poetry, not comparable to Bukowski.

January 27, 2010 at 10:14 AM  
Blogger Lori said...

Uh...
Blessed is the cynic,
For he shall see through all the bullshit
And know the truth,
Ugly tho it may be

January 27, 2010 at 12:43 PM  
Blogger St Jude said...

I've always liked that poem. I also think that it is quite apt for today, national holocaust day that is.

January 27, 2010 at 2:22 PM  
OpenID daisyfae said...

well, thanks for that cheery little nugget! appropriate as our prez prepares to deliver the state of our sorry union address...

hey, kids! anyone else up for a group swan dive off the highest building! race you to the top!

January 27, 2010 at 7:15 PM  
Anonymous nursemyra said...

And Their Hatred Will Be Perfect
Like A Shining Diamond
Like A Knife
LIke A Mountain
LIKE A TIGER
LIKE Hemlock

Their Finest
Art

Those are the lines I like the best

January 28, 2010 at 3:17 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Lori: I can't figure out if the "genius" is the writer seeing through the bullshit or if the "genius" is the crowds perfect hatred.

St. Jude: I didn't put that together but you're right. Thanks for pointing that out.

Daisy: Hey, baby, I tried to warn you in the introduction.

Nurse: Most of the power of Bukowski's work lie in the last few lines of his poems.

January 28, 2010 at 7:39 AM  

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