Sunday, 31 January 2010

Allen Ginsberg's - Wales Visitation

Llanthoney Valley

... as I read William Blake
In innocence
That day I heard Blake's voice.
I say I heard Blake's voice...
produced by the reconstruction of syllables on
the printed page in iron rhythyms
that rose to my year in a

- Allen Ginsberg

Way back when,when acid was good in the year of my birth 1967 and flower children shackled their clothes and inhibitions, an iconic moment occurred in the Welsh cultural underground. Allen Ginsberg came to visit Wales to drop some acid. He had visited london for the "dialectcs Liberation Conference ", alongside R.D Laing, Stokely Carmichael and an anthropologist called Geoffrey Bateson, a guy like Ginsberg into far out ideas, holistic ideas, organic and otherwise.
Anyway Ginsberg came down to Wales with his publisher Tom Maschler, to spend some time at his country cottage in the LLanthong Valley in the Black Mountains near to Capel-y- Ffin , long a place of inspiration to writers and artists. A magical part of Wales, I visit about once a year to recharge my batteries, unwind, relax, chill out and look for some meaning in these turbulent times, change a lightbulb in my head so to speak.
Anyway along the way Ginsberg and his companions stopped to tour the ruins of Tintern Abbey, the sight of which put Ginsberg in an even more relaxed contemplative mood. This was to be the first time he had taken acid since a visit to see his friend, the poet, Ferlinghetti in Late 1965, on his trip he noted details that he said later were " the human things that everybody has seen in nature " that people seldom stopped to recognise and appreciate.
Wales Visitation was his happy accident, with acid he was able to trust his mind, leading to poetry of pure thought, a step into the doors of perception and like his hero William Blake he was able to walk down the hills of eternity itself. This poem was all about his acid trip with nature - total nature. It involved a lot of sitting round cross legged under trees for hours, projecting and plasmecizing his breaths into the cosmos, he compares the heavens and the air and vibes over the valley to an ocean tide slowly moving. He compared the breath that came out of his body with the air that soared through the trees.
It's one of Ginsberg's undoubtedly stronger poems, influenced strongly by the Romantic tradition, he came to a realization " that me making noise as poetry was no different from the wind making noise in the branches. It was just as natural. It was a very important point. The fact that there were thoughts flowing through the mind is as much of a natural object as is the milky way floating over the isle of Skye. So, for the first time, I didn't have to feel guilt or psychological conflict about writing while I was high. Also for the first time I was able to exteriorize my attention instead of dwelling n the inner images and symbols and keeping my eyes closed." This was not his last Acid trip but it was his first trip where there were no heavy judgements to be made. In the past he had been plainly provocative but now he had finally embraced an objectivistss viewpoint. All he had to do was see what was in fact in front of him without any subjective paranoia. Perhaps because of this his later poetry got a little lazier ,he perhaps tried to hard, his mind unable to simply turn of and float gently into natures spontaneity, he was still capable of magic, and flowing beautiful verse, but the layering of detail was never captured quite as magnificently than on Wales Visitation, the holy sacrament had worked its magic. He was just another man in a million seeking out a Welsh acid universe , far out man. Time is eternity, eternity is time, lets not get to hung up. Lets rewind, stop the world, release the anxiety, lets go back in time, sweet nostalgia guided by a sweeter medicine.

White fog lifting & falling on mountain-brow
Trees moving in rivers of wind
The clouds arise
as on a wave, gigantic eddy lifting mist
above teeming ferns exquisitely swayed
along a green crag
glimpsed thru mullioned glass in valley raine-

Bardic, O Self, Visitacione, tell naught
but what seen by one man in a vale in Albion,
of the folk, whose physical sciences end in Ecology,
the wisdom of earthly relations,
of mouths & eyes interknit ten centuries visible
orchards of mind language manifest human,
of the satanic thistle that raises its horned symmetry
flowering above sister grass-daisies' pink tiny
bloomlets angelic as lightbulbs-

Remember 160 miles from London's symmetrical thorned tower
& network of TV pictures flashing bearded your Self
the lambs on the tree-nooked hillside this day bleating
heard in Blake's old ear, & the silent thought of Wordsworth in eld
clouds passing through skeleton arches of Tintern Abbey-
Bard Nameless as the Vast, babble to Vastness!

All the valley quivered, one extended motion, wind
undulating on mossy hills
a giant wash that sank white fog delicately down red runnels
on the mountainside
whose leaf-branch tendrils moved asway
in granitic undertow down-
and lifted the floating Nebulous upward, and lifted the arms of the trees
and lifted the grasses an instant in balance
and lifted the lambs to hold still
and lifted the green of the hill, in one solemn wave

A solid mass of Heaven, mist-infused, ebs thru the vale,
a wavelet of Immensity, lapping gigantic through Llanthony Valley,
the length of all England, valley upon valley under Heaven's ocean
tonned with cloud-hang,
-Heaven balanced on a grassblade.
Roar of the mountain wind slow, sigh of the body,
One Being on the mountainside stirring gently
Exquisite scales trembling everywhere in balance,
one motion thru the cloudy sky-floor shifting on the million feet of
one Majesty the motion that stirred wet grass quivering
to the farthest tendril of white fog poured down
through shivering flowers on themountain's head-

No imperfection in the budded mountain,
Valleys breathe, heaven and earth move together,
daisies push inches of yellow air, vegetables tremble,
grass shimmers green
sheep speckle the mountainside, revolving their jaws with empty eyes,
horses dance in the warm rain,
tree-lined canals network live farmland,
blueberries fringe stone walls on hawthorn'd hills,
pheasants croak on meadows haired with fern-

Out, out on the hillside, into the ocean sound, into delicate gusts of wet
Fall on the ground, O great Wetness, O Mother, No harm on your body!
Stare close, no imperfection in the grass,
each flower Buddha-eye, repeating the story,
Kneel before the foxglove raising green buds, mauve bells drooped
doubled down the stem trembling antennae,
& look in the eyes of the branded lambs that stare
breathing stockstill under dripping hawthorn-
I lay down mixing my beardwith the wet hair of the mountainside,
smelling the brown vagina-moist ground, harmless,
tasting the violet thistle-hair, sweetness-
One being so balanced, so vast, that its softest breath
moves every floweret in the stillness of thevalley floor,
trembles lamb-hair hung gossamer rain-beaded in the grass,
lifts trees on their roots, birds in the great draught
hiding their strength in the rain, bearing same weight,

Groan thru breast and neck, a great Oh! to earth heart
Calling our Prescence together
The great secret is no secret
Senses fit the winds,
Visible is visible,
rain-mist curtains wave through the bearded vale,
gray atoms wet the wind's kabbala
Crosslegged on a rock in dusk rain,
rubber booted in soft grass, mind moveless,
breath trembles in white daisies by the roadside,
Heaven breath and my own symmetric
Airs wavering thru antlered green fern
drawn in my navel, same breath as breathes thru Capel-Y-Ffn,
Sounds of Aleph and Aum
through forests of gristle,
my skull and Lord Hereford's Knob equal,
All Albion one.

What did I notice? Particulars! The
vision of the great One is myriad-
smoke curls upward from ashtray,
house fire burned low,
The night, still wet & moody black heaven
upward in motion with wet wind.

July 29, 1967 (LSD)-August 3, 1967 (London)


The Visionary Poetry of Allen Ginsberg - Paul Portuges
Ross-Erikson 1978

Ginsberg:a biography,- Barry Miles
Virgin 2001 pgs 393-394

Dharma Lion: a biography of Allen Ginsberg _ Michael Schumacher
St Martins Press 1992 

Feeling the ripeness of the moment, Allen Ginsberg requests his host William F. Buckley on 'Firing Line' to allow him to read a poem. When Bill allows this, Allen unleashes ' Wales Visitation '....


  1. My real life needs a lot of work *sigh*, click on the asterisk for my new occasional home...
    Thanx for asking!

  2. what more do you want to know, just a collection of random bits and pieces that inspire me, and hopefully inspire others, just a one man operation really, no adverts, with my own teifidancer viewpoint.

  3. Hi, thanks for providing this nice bit of Ginsberg for the world..

    I was just wondering where the quote at the top came from? ("... as I read William Blake
    In innocence
    That day I heard Blake's voice.
    I say I heard Blake's voice...
    produced by the reconstruction of syllables on
    the printed page in iron rhythyms
    that rose to my year in a

    I've tried searching but can't find it anywhere!

  4. Hi there I thought I'd got it from the book
    " The visionary poems of Allen Ginsberg " by Paul Portuges,
    Ross Eriksson 1978....
    I might be wrong, I'll try and find out.... sorry for bein vaque

  5. Hello Teifidancer. Thank you for your post (diolch o'r galon). I'm poet-in-residence at Llwyn Celyn not far from where the poem was written. I'm in the middle of writing/not writing a piece about the place. You've no idea how much I needed to read your post to give m a nudge, to let me see that even great writers like Ginsberg were also sometimes paralysed by fear of writing etc. This was freeing for me. Are you on Twitter?

  6. cheers.... diolch o'r galon, hust returned from dosbarth cymraeg.Glad that i've managed to help a little bit, what an inspiring place to be based, once part of the Llathony Prory estate.... all the best/cofion gorau... I am on twitter under the name Dave Rendle.....