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Tuesday 29 March 2011

Allen Ginsberg: Plutonian Ode


They face high levels of radiation but work to collect data and check safety levels

Tokyo Electric Power Co. workers collect data in the control room for Unit 1 and Unit 2 at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okumamachi, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, Wednesday, March 23, 2011: photo by AP/Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency

What new element before us unborn in nature? Is there a new thing under the Sun?

At last inquisitive Whitman a modern epic, detonative, Scientific theme

First penned unmindful by Doctor Seaborg with poisonous hand, named for Death's planet through the sea beyond Uranus

whose chthonic ore fathers this magma-teared Lord of Hades, Sire of avenging Furies, billionaire Hell-King worshipped once

with black sheep throats cut, priest's face averted from underground mysteries in single temple at Eleusis,

Spring-green Persephone nuptialed to his inevitable Shade, Demeter mother of asphodel weeping dew,

her daughter stored in salty caverns under white snow, black hail, grey winter rain or Polar ice, immemorable seasons before

Fish flew in Heaven, before a Ram died by the starry bush, before the Bull stamped sky and earth

or Twins inscribed their memories in clay or Crab'd flood

washed memory from the skull, or Lion sniffed the lilac breeze in Eden --

Before the Great Year began turning its twelve signs, ere constellations wheeled for twenty-four thousand sunny years

slowly round their axis in Sagittarius, one hundred sixty-seven thousand times returning to this night

Radioactive Nemesis were you there at the beginning black dumb tongueless unsmelling blast of Disillusion?

I manifest your Baptismal Word after four billion years

I guess your birthday in Earthling Night, I salute your dreadful presence last majestic as the Gods,

Sabaot, Jehova, Astapheus, Adonaeus, Elohim, Iao, Ialdabaoth, Aeon from Aeon born ignorant in an Abyss of Light,

Sophia's reflections glittering thoughtful galaxies, whirlpools of starspume silver-thin as hairs of Einstein!

Father Whitman I celebrate a matter that renders Self oblivion!

Grand Subject that annihilates inky hands & pages' prayers, old orators' inspired Immortalities,

I begin your chant, openmouthed exhaling into spacious sky over silent mills at Hanford, Savannah River, Rocky Flats, Pantex, Burlington, Albuquerque

I yell thru Washington, South Carolina, Colorado,Texas, Iowa, New Mexico,

Where nuclear reactors create a new Thing under the Sun, where Rockwell war-plants fabricate this death stuff trigger in nitrogen baths,

Hanger-Silas Mason assembles the terrified weapon secret by ten thousands, & where Manzano Mountain boasts to store

its dreadful decay through two hundred forty millenia while our Galaxy spirals around its nebulous core.

I enter your secret places with my mind, I speak with your presence, I roar your Lion Roar with mortal mouth.

One microgram inspired to one lung, ten pounds of heavy metal dust adrift slow motion over grey Alps

the breadth of the planet, how long before your radiance speeds blight and death to sentient beings?

Enter my body or not I carol my spirit inside you, Unapproachable Weight,

O heavy heavy Element awakened I vocalize your consciousness to six worlds

I chant your absolute Vanity. Yeah monster of Anger birthed in fear O most

Ignorant matter ever created unnatural to Earth! Delusion of metal empires!

Destroyer of lying Scientists! Devourer of covetous Generals, Incinerator of Armies & Melter of Wars!

Judgement of judgements, Divine Wind over vengeful nations, Molester of Presidents, Death-Scandal of Capital politics! Ah civilizations stupidly industrious!

Canker-Hex on multitudes learned or illiterate! Manufactured Spectre of human reason! O solidified imago of practitioner in Black Arts

I dare your reality, I challenge your very being! I publish your cause and effect!

I turn the wheel of Mind on your three hundred tons! Your name enters mankind's ear! I embody your ultimate powers!

My oratory advances on your vaunted Mystery! This breath dispels your braggart fears! I sing your form at last

behind your concrete & iron walls inside your fortress of rubber & translucent silicon shields in filtered cabinets and baths of lathe oil,

My voice resounds through robot glove boxes & ignot cans and echoes in electric vaults inert of atmosphere,

I enter with spirit out loud into your fuel rod drums underground on soundless thrones and beds of lead

O density! This weightless anthem trumpets transcendent through hidden chambers and breaks through iron doors into the Infernal Room!

Over your dreadful vibration this measured harmony floats audible, these jubilant tones are honey and milk and wine-sweet water

Poured on the stone black floor, these syllables are barley groats I scatter on the Reactor's core,

I call your name with hollow vowels, I psalm your Fate close by, my breath near deathless ever at your side

to Spell your destiny, I set this verse prophetic on your mausoleum walls to seal you up Eternally with Diamond Truth! O doomed Plutonium.

When they take a break, the workers rest and eat in a small decontaminated room

A Tokyo Electric Power Co. worker looks at gauges in the control room for Unit 1 and Unit 2 at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okumamachi, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, Wednesday, March 23, 2011: photo by AP/Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency

Part of their job is ensuring that the plants are constantly cooled

Workers in protective suits conduct cooling operation by spraying water at the damaged No. 4 unit of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in Okumamachi, northeastern Japan,Tuesday, March 22, 2011: photo by Tokyo Electric Power Co, (TEPCO)

Allen Ginsberg: Plutonian Ode, 14 July, 1978 (excerpt)


ACravan said...

It's harsh, but remarkable (and highly dramatic) to encounter this in a very dark room surrounded by sleepers first thing in the morning, but I am very glad I did. Unlike the other harsh realities I am certain to encounter later in the day when the sun is in the sky, this tells me the truth and isn't mediocre or intentionally deceptive. Curtis



These photos give "Plutonium Ode" a whole new twisted timeliness -- "Is there a new thing under the sun?". . . .


lines of pink grey clouds above shadowed
ridge, white curve of moon behind branch
in foreground, waves sounding in channel

recalled, geometry of thing
as it appeared meant

its surface can be anything
else, space, read as

tree-lined green of ridge above channel,
whiteness of gull flapping toward point

Tom King said...

I have been listening to the recording of Plutonian Ode with Philip Glass, which comes in two versions, one with Allen Ginsberg reading the poem under it, one without him, but with the soprano singing it. I love it.

TC said...

It is possible that tiny suns are being created even as we speak, in that infernal nuclear technology junkyard of a "power plant". But can an epoxy tent really be jerryrigged, like a boy scout backwoods splint, to seal off a Rising Sun?

Tom, I couldn't dig up the version of Phil Glass's Plutonian Symphony with Allen doing the voice, but did manage to find
the one with the soprano.

A.G.'s horror vision re. Plutonium was one I shared, perhaps not coincidentally, as we were both in one way or another stranded by fate, for a few years, in the vicinity of a factory where the stuff was being milled and processed into mass death bullets.