Reading Update: Lawrence Ferlinghetti's Pictures of the Gone World

Pictures of the Gone World (City Lights Pocket Poets Series)

Pictures of the Gone World (City Lights Pocket Poets Series) by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

What I quickly want to say about this collection is that I am not sure where or what is my way in. I feel like maybe what Ferlinghetti is doing is elegizing a “gone world” which we see in an unacknowledged Dante sculpture amid a bustling city, almost out of place in a modern world or in a setting of modernity.

In terms of his use of sprawling form, lines unanchored to any margin, but rather, floating in this ether-like white space, perhaps this is meant to express that disjunctiveness between the “gone world” and modernity, i.e. reading Yeats does not make him “think / of Ireland, / but of midsummer New York,” and the Yeats book he found on the El.

For me, really the only memorable poem in this collection is “The world is a beautiful place / to be born into,” because I believe it’s here that he starts to reconcile the encroachment of the modern world into the “gone world.”

PS: As well, what is also memorable about this collection is that it is #1 in the City Lights Books’ Pocket Poets Series. This is some formidable history.