Sea Poems

Posted in Kerouac, On writing, Writers at 7:01 am by Marion

Of the many unexpected pleasures in reading “Big Sur” by Jack Kerouac … the artful desperation, the chilling hallucinations, the sheer falling apart of a creative, brilliant mind … one of the best comes at the very end.

Having completed the horrible stay at Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s cabin south of San Francisco, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, Kerouac ends with the car ride out of there, the nightmare at last ending, and the ghoulish girlfriend and demon child on their way back to their apartment and out of his life. Kerouac is going back to Ma Mere, his mom, and will be able to at last grieve in peace for the loss of his cat.

I’ll take Billie home, I’ll say goodbye to her properly, she wont commit no suicide or do anything wrong … I’ll forgive them and explain everything … I’ll stay with Monsanto at his home … and he’ll smile and show me how to be happy awhile….

On soft Spring nights I’ll stand in the yard under the stars — something good will come out of all things yet —

Kerouac had a natural, instinctive feeling for the sound of words. I wrote in a previous entry about this music and in Big Sur, the lilt and grace of his language brings artfulness to his situation, and breakdown.

Then, as you read the final paragraph, thinking all is bleak for Kerouac and the world, you turn the page and find “Sea” — Sounds of the Pacific Ocean at Big Sur.

These are the poems Kerouac wrote listening to the ocean, sitting in the dark hearing words and inventing stories from the crashing waves. Reading them, after the hellish narrative, you realize that Kerouac was powerfully aware of his role as a writer, to bring meaning even to his own horrible downslide.


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