Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “Populist Manifesto No. 1.”
Poets, come out of your closets. Open your windows. Open your doors. You’ve been holed up too long. No time now for our little literary games. No time now for our paranoias and hypochondrias. No time now for fear and loathing. Time now only for light and love. Poets, descend to the street of the world once more and open your minds and eyes. Clear your throat and speak up.
Poetry is dead. Long live poetry. Don’t wait for the revolution, or it’ll happen without you. Poetry, the common carrier for the transportation of the public to higher places. Poetry still falls from the skies into our streets still open. They haven’t put up the barricades yet, the streets still alive with faces, lovely men and women still walking their lovely creatures everywhere. In the eyes of all, the secret of all still buried there. Whitman’s wild children still sleeping there. Awake and walk in the open air.
“Pity the nation whose people are sheep,
and whose shepherds mislead them.
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars, whose sages are silenced,
and whose bigots haunt the airwaves.
Pity the nation that raises not its voice,
except to praise conquerors and acclaim the bully as hero
and aims to rule the world with force and by torture.
Pity the nation that knows no other language but its own
and no other culture but its own.
Pity the nation whose breath is money
and sleeps the sleep of the too well fed.
Pity the nation — oh, pity the people who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away.
My country, tears of thee, sweet land of liberty.”