Like his college roommate Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen took both poetry and Zen seriously. He became friends with Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Michael McClure, and played a key role in the explosive poetic revolution of the '50s and '60s. Celebrated for his wisdom and good humor, Whalen transformed the poem for a generation. His writing, taken as a whole, forms a monumental stream of consciousness (or, as Whalen calls it, "continuous nerve movie") of a wild, deeply read, and fiercely independent Americanone who refuses to belong, who celebrates and glorifies the small beauties to be found everywhere he looks. This long-awaited Selected Poems is a welcome opportunity to hear his influential voice again.
Hymnus Ad Patrem Sinensis
I praise those ancient Chinamen
Who left me a few words,
Usually a pointless joke or a silly question
A line of poetry drunkenly scrawled on the margin of a quick
splashed picture--bug, leaf,
caricature of Teacher
on paper held together now by little more than ink
& their own strength brushed momentarily over it
Their world & several others since
Gone to hell in a handbasket, they knew it--
Cheered as it whizzed by--
& conked out among the busted spring rain cherryblossom winejars
Happy to have saved us all
Homage to Lucretius
"Plus Ça Change . . ."
If You're So Smart, Why Ain't You Rich?
The Slop Barrel: Slices of the Paideuma for All Sentient Beings
Sourdough Mountain Lookout
Literary Life in the Golden West
10:x:57, 45 Years Since the Fall of the Ch'ing Dynasty
For My Father
Metaphysical Insomnia Jazz. Mumonkan xxix.
O:vii:58, On Which I Renounce the Notion of Social Responsibility
Hymnus Ad Patrem Sinensis
Complaint: To the Muse
Prose Take-Out, Portland, 13:ix:58
Self-Portrait Sad, 22:ix:58
Something Nice About Myself
A Distraction Fit
Haiku for Mike
Address to the Boobus, with her Hieratic Formulas in Reply
Boobus Hierophante, Her Incantations
To the Moon
Song for 2 Balalaikas on the Corner of 3rd & Market
Since You Ask Me
To a Poet
An Irregular Ode
Haiku, for Gary Snyder
A Vision of the Bodhisattvas
Dream & Excursus, Arlington Massachusetts
For Albert Saijo
Homage to Rodin
One of My Favorite Songs Is Stormy Weather
Early Autumn in Upper Noe Valley
Song to Begin Rohatsu
For Brother Antoninus
Life and Death and a Letter to My Mother Beyond Them Both
Plums, Metaphysics, an Investigation, a Visit, and a Short Funeral Ode
Raging Desire &c.
The Fourth of October, 1963
The Lotus Sutra, Naturalized
The Metaphysical Town Hall and Bookshop
The Ode to Music
Homage to William Seward Burroughs
Dear Mr President
Japanese Tea Garden Golden Gate Park in Spring
"A Penny for the Old Guy"
Love Love Love Again
April Showers Bring Rain?
A Morning Walk
"The Sun Rises and Sets in That Child," so my grandmother used to say,
"California Is Odious but Indispensible"
Imagination of the Taj Mahal
That Eyes! Those Nose!
The Life of Literature
Good News and Gospel
3 Days Ago
White River Ode
The War Poem for Diane di Prima
Confession and Penance
The Grand Design
Success Is Failure
The Winter for Burton Watson
All of it went on the wrong page
The Dharma Youth League
A Romantic & Beautiful Poem Inspired by the Recollection of William Butler Yeats, His Life & Work
International Date Line, Monday / Monday 27:XI:67
America Inside & Outside Bill Brown's House in Bolinas
Life in the City. In Memoriam Edward Gibbon
Allegorical Painting: Capitalistic Society Destroyed by the Contradictions Within Itself. (Second Five-Year Plan.)
To the Revolutionary Cadres of Balboa, Malibu & Santa Barbara
Duerden's Garage, Stinson Beach
Walking Beside the Kamogawa, Remembering Nansen and Fudo and Gary's Poem
Behind the Door
Life at Bolinas. The Last of California
Excerpts from"Scenes of Life at the Capital"
Many Colored Squares
"Up in Michigan"
"Old Age Echoes"
The Letter to Thomas Clark 22:VII:71 from Bolinas where He Sat beside Me to Help to Write It
"Horrible Incredible Lies": Keith Lampe Spontaneously
Monument Rescue Dim
Look Look Look
"I Told Myself": Bobbie Spontaneously
Growing and Changing
Ode for You
In the Night
"Stolen and Abandoned"
The Universal & Susquehanna Mercy Co. Dayton, O.
High-tension on Low-pressure Non-accomplishment Blues
Detachment, Wisdom and Compassion
Money Is the Roost of All Eagles
"The Conditions That Prevail"
The Talking Picture
Murals Not Yet Dreamed
The Vision of Delight
Luxury in August
How to Be Successful & Happy Without Anybody Else Finding Out About It
Compulsive Obligatory Paranoia Flashes
For Clark Coolidge
The Radio Again
Somebody Else's Problem Bothers Me
Many Pages Must Be Thrown Away
The Congress of Vienna
To the Memory Of
"Past Ruin'd Ilion"
Tears and Recriminations
Homage to St. Patrick, Garc&ía Lorca, & the Itinerant Grocer
What About It?
Treading More Water
What? Writing in the Dining Room?
Violins in Chaos?
The Bay Trees Were About to Bloom
Dying Tooth Song
Rich Interior, After Thomas Mann
Chanson d'Outre Tombe
Hot Springs Infernal in the Human Beast
Homage to Hart Crane
What Are You Studying, These Days?
Some of These Days
Epigrams & Imitations
For Allen, on His 60th Birthday
"In Philip Whalen's poetry, offhand compositional elegance and the deep amusement of wisdom combine to produce one of the pure delights of contemporary literature."
"Philip Whalen is a great poet; I get as much wisdom and affection from his work as from that of any poet whosoever, dead or alive, having lived whenever. The range, the space, the humor are all considerable, kingdoms of cloud mind unscrolling into the most concrete of details. This is a very large spirit."