Lawrence Ferlinghetti has been described as one of our 'ageless radicals and true bards'. Before I picked up this collection of his, I took that description with a pinch of salt, being very used to finding highly praised poets to often be disappointing in the reading. However in this case there was no disappointment at all. Ferlinghetti's poetry is well crafted, vivid, passionate and engaged with life. He also has a strong environmental consciousness. Seascape with Sun and Eagle describes an eagle in a beautiful meditative style with a poignant ending, Alienation: Two Bees focuses on the communication and sense of community in bees, Billboard Painters outlines the history of how colonialisation has destroyed natural beauty over and over again. Many other of his poems have an environmental message running through them or referenced, for example in A Nation of Sheep:
The little Cessna flies low
over the socked in snowfields
It's a late spring silent spring
makes discreet reference to Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring. But Ferlinghetti also has a light touch, in Populist Manifesto, he nods at Allen Ginsberg's Howl (which he published) with these lines:
We have seen the best minds of our generation
destroyed by boredom at poetry readings.
I can't imagine anyone being destroyed by boredom at Ferlinghetti's readings!