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.