World History of Male Love - Home Page Poetry

Allen Ginsberg

OLD LOVE STORY

Some think the love of boys is wicked in the world, forlorn

Character corrupting, worthy mankind's scorn

Or eyes that weep and breasts that ache for lovely youth

Have no mouth to speak for mankind's general truth

Nor hands to work manhood's fullest delight

Nor hearts to make old women smile day and night

Nor arms to warm young girls to dream of love

Nor thighs to satisfy thighs, nor breath men can approve --

Yet think back to the time our epic world was new

When Gilgamesh followed the shade of his friend Enkidu

Into Limbo's dust to talk love man to man

So younger David enamored of young Jonathan

Wrote songs that women and men still chant for calm

Century after century under evergreen or palm

A love writ so sacred on our bible leaf

That heartfire warms cold milennial grief.

Same time Akilleos won the war at Troy

Grieving Patroklos' body, his dead warrior boy

(One nation won the world by reading Greek for this

And fell when Wilde was gaoled for his Bellboy's kiss)

Marvellous Zeus himself took lightning eagle shape

Down-cheeked Ganymede enjoyed God's thick-winged rape

And lived a youth forever, forever as can be,

Serving his nectar to the bearded deity

The whole world knew the story, the whole world laughed in awe

That such love could be the Thunder of immortal Law.

When Socrates climbed his ladder of love's degrees

He put his foot in silence on rough Alcibiades

Wise men still read Plato, whoever they are,

Plato whose love-lad Aster was his morning star

Plato whose love-lad was in death his star of Night

Which Shelly once witnessed as eternal light.

Catullus and tough Horace were slaves to glad young men

Loved them, cursed them, always fell in love again

Caesar conquered the world, top Emperor Power

Lay soft on the breast of his soldier of the hour

Even Jesus Christ loved his young John most

Later he showed him the whole Heavenly Host

Old Rome approved a beautiful bodied youth

Antinus Hadrian worshipped with Imperial Truth

Told in the calm gaze of his hundred stone

Statues standing fig-leafed in the Vatican.

Michelangelo lifted his young hand to smooth

The belly of his Bacchus, a sixteen-year youth

Whose prick stands up he's drunk, his eyes gaze side-

Ways to his right hand held up shoulder high

Waving a cup of grape, smart kid, his nose is sharp,

His lips are new, slightly opened as if parted to take a sip of purple nakedness,

Taste Michelangelo's mortal-bearded kiss,

Or if a hair-hooved horny Satyr happens to pass

Fall to the ground on his strong little marble ass.

Michelangelo loved him! What young stud

Stood without trousers or shirt, maybe even did

What the creator wanted him to in bed

Lay still with the sculptor's hand cupped on his head

Feeling up his muscles, feeling down his bones

Palm down his back and thighs, touching his soft stones --

What kind of men were the Slaves he tied to his bed?

And who stood still for David naked foot to head?

But men love the muscles of David's abdomen

And come with their women to see him again and again.

Enough, I've stayed up all night with these boys

And all my life enjoyed their handsome joys

I came with many companions to this Dawn

Now I am tired and must set my pen down

Reader, Hearer, this time Understand

How kind it is for man to love a man,

Old love and Present, future love the same

Hear and Read what love is without shame.

I want people to understand! They can! They can! They can!

So open your ears and hear the voice of the classical Band.

October 26, 1981
Allen Ginsberg "Old Love Story",
White Shroud, Harper and Row, 1986.

 













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