A couple years back I was visiting Boston and decided to peruse the used bookstores around Harvard. While doing so, I came upon a collection of works by Allen Ginsberg and figured it was worth buying. I have not read all the pieces in there… yet, so I skimmed the table of contents looking for something interesting and this one caught my eye.
This is the one and only
it is the absolute world.
There is no other world.
The circle is complete.
I am living in Eternity.
The ways of this world
are the ways of Heaven.
Ginsberg expresses some interesting concepts here. He begins by stating that there is only one world, or one realm of existence. While one could argue the existence of parallel universes and dimensions, the fact remains that we only exist in this one. I believe that through the proper spiritual practices that you can catch glimpses of other realms, but we are still trapped within our realm, for this life anyway.
Next, he incorporates the metaphor of the circle and associates it with Eternity. It’s a pretty common metaphor and not one that needs to be expounded on further.
The last two lines are the most interesting for me. They echo the Lord’s Prayer: “On earth as it is in Heaven.” It seems odd to me that Ginsberg, a Jew, would make an allusion to a Christian prayer. My only guess is that he was wanting to write something universal, that would be understood by a broader audience.
While this is not the most spiritually profound poem that I’ve read, it works for me. It is short and concise, and expresses a lot in very few words. To me, that is the sign of a well-written poem.