Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Winner of the 2003 Frost Medal

Dragon's Teeth

A headless man was running
down the street
He was carrying his head
in his hands
A woman ran after him
She had his heart
in her hands
The bombs kept falling
sowing hate
And they kept running
down the streets
Not the same two people
but thousands of others & brothers
All running
from the bombs that kept falling
sowing pure hate

For every bomb that dropped
up sprang a thousand Bin Ladens
A thousand new terrorists

Like dragon's teeth sown
From which soldiers sprang up
Each waving a different flag

As the smart bombs sowing hate
Kept falling and falling and falling


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Poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with the permission of the author.
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William Louis-Dreyfus on Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Lawrence Ferlinghetti has been writing his poetry for over 60 years. It is relevant to say "his" because the poetry of Lawrence Ferlinghetti is, in most noteworthy aspects, unlike the poems we see and read in the crowded verse landscape.

Ferlinghetti is clearly not a confessional poet. He is not persuaded and indeed attracted by subjects which have a highly intimate coloring. All poetry is in one form or another lyrical but the lyrical in "his" poetry arises more out of the subject matter and the liberated way in which it is treated than it does out of the chosen word and phrase couplings. He is clearly not a "language poet". Ferlinghetti is nothing if not ferociously insistent on being understood.

Ferlinghetti's poems are caused not by the poet in him but by that poet reacting to the subject matter of the world which he runs into around him. He is a poet created by the view he develops of the world external to him. He is a poet of outrage, belief and involvement not with himself and his poetic sensibilities but with the world seen through him and free of him.

Most poets and all poetry should be loved both for the achievement made and for the courage of having entered the fray. There are thus abundant reasons for loving Ferlinghetti and celebrating his work. One may be added: we honor him for the devoted ally and advocate he has been to the world that surrounds us.

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