“I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn’t know who I was – I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I’d never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn’t know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn’t scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost.”
Anyone who knows me, knows that The Beat Generation, and Kerouac in particular, are a huge part of what shaped me in my late teens and early 20s. For me, that era, those poets and writers, are a part of my soul. Sometimes when I’m reading Kerouac, it’s like he’s pulled my most personal feelings out of my heart and put them into words, in such a way that I never could. I find comfort in him and them, and they are the grandfathers I never had, my greatest teachers, my closest friends. This time of year I’m especially prone to them, so here’s a poem Kerouac wrote about my favorite month: October.
There’s something olden and golden and lost
In the strange ancestral light,
There’s something tender and loving and sad
In October’s copper might.
End of something, old, old, old…
Always missing, sad, sad, sad…
Saying something…love, love, love…
Akh! I tell you it is October,
And I defy you now and always
To deny there is not love
Staring foolishly at skies
Whose beauty but God defies.
For in October’s ancient glow
A little after dusk
Love strides through the meadow
Dropping her burnished husk…
- Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, The Beat Generation and America (newrepublic.com)
- The many phases of Jack Kerouac (beatworldbeatitude.wordpress.com)
- A possible understanding of the Beat Generation. (beatworldbeatitude.wordpress.com)
- Walking Haiku by Jack Kerouac (silverbirchpress.wordpress.com)