Anyone who knows me well knows of my slight obsession. This obsession revolves around the Beat Generation, a group of poets who spurred a literary revolution throughout New York City in the world of poetry in the 1950's. I've read many of the works that came out of the time period from the authors Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, but my absolute favorite has to be one that I read a little while back when I was trying to make sense of the way I felt about a situation in my life.
"Song" by Allen Ginsberg has to be my favorite poem, and quite possibly, my favorite piece of literature. The emotions that every word, every line conveys resonates with me even after reading it several times. "Song" isn't Ginsberg's most famous work; in fact, it is as not highly recognized as a piece from the Beat Generation as other Ginsberg poems such as "Howl" and "America." But there is a certain beauty to it, to the ways the words fit with each other and flow as if they were meant to be spoken in order, next to each other.
"The weight of the world
Under the burden
under the burden
the weight we carry
— Excerpt from Allen Ginsberg, "Song"
Ginsberg takes love and turns it into a tangible object, one that we can measure and carry along with us as an extension of ourselves. In saying that the weight of the world lies in love, Ginsberg makes the notion that every burden we have, such as loneliness or sadness, is tied to love. Love is the very foundation behind all of our actions, whether that is love for another person or even love for ourselves.
The reason why this poem, in particular, is the most memorable to me is that it is very different from Ginsberg's more popular works. The Beat Generation's style tends towards longer lines and heavy symbolism, with concrete concepts made abstract. This poem, however, makes the abstract concept of love concrete. The shorter stanzas and calm, almost subdued tone of the words creates a poem that seems like a softened version of Ginsberg's thoughts, which, in written word, are usually wildly passionate and borderline rageful. This little glimpse into the softer artistic workings of Ginsberg's mind seems like a side of him that he only lets a select few see, a side that is sensitive and reflective. And perhaps it is that very voice that stayed in my mind. It draws me towards this work so much that I find myself reading it on quiet, solitary nights when the only sounds I can hear are the thoughts stored up in my mind and the engines of midnight drivers.
And I will continue to do so, for as long as I'll maintain my love for the Beats. Because sometimes the only words you really want to hear are the ones written in poetry from humans who were alive, hurting and reflecting on their lives years before our time.