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Ahead Of His 100th Birthday, A Reading Of Lawrence Ferlinghetti's 'I Am Waiting'

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Lawrence Ferlinghetti turns 100 tomorrow. He is the poet and beating heart of the Beat writers, friend to Ginsberg and Kerouac, founder of the City Lights Bookstore and writer of what he calls wide-open poetry that strikes the ear like jazz. This is from "I Am Waiting" and his 1958 collection "A Coney Island Of The Mind," which has sold more than 9 million copies.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: (Reading) I am waiting for my case to come up. And I am waiting for a rebirth of wonder. And I am waiting for someone to really discover America and wail. And I am waiting for the discovery of a new symbolic Western frontier. And I am waiting for the American eagle to really spread its wings and straighten up and fly right. And I am waiting for the age of anxiety to drop dead. And I am waiting for the war to be fought, which will make the world safe for anarchy.

I am waiting for my number to be called. And I am waiting for the Salvation Army to take over. And I am waiting for the meek to be blessed and inherit the Earth without taxes. And I am waiting for a reconstructed Mayflower to reach America with its picture story and TV rights sold in advance to the Natives. And I am waiting for the lost music to sound again and the lost continent in a new rebirth of wonder.

And I am waiting for some strains of unpremeditated art to shake my typewriter. And I am waiting to write the great indelible poem. And I am waiting for the last long, careless rapture. And I am perpetually waiting for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian urn to catch each other up at last and embrace. And I am waiting perpetually and forever a renaissance of wonder.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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