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Adhesiveness: an excerpt from Ginsberg's testimony at the Chicago Seven trial
MR. FORAN: Thank you. You also wrote a book of poems called Reality Sandwiches, didn’t you?
THE WITNESS: Yes.
MR. FORAN: In there, there is a poem called, “Love Poem on Theme by Whitman.” Would you recite that to the jury?
THE WITNESS: “Love Poem on Theme by Whitman,” Walt Whitman being one celebrated bard, national prophet. The poem begins with a quotation of a line by Walt Whitman. It begins with Walt Whitman’s line: I’ll go into the bedroom silently and lie down between the bridegroom and the bride,/those bodies fallen from heaven stretched out waiting naked and restless,/arms resting over their eyes in the darkness,/bury my face in their shoulders and breasts, breathing their skin,/and stroke and kiss neck and mouth and make back be open and known,/legs raised up, crook’d to receive, cock in the darkness driven tormented and attacking/roused up from hole to itching head,/bodies locked shuddering naked, hot lips and buttocks screwed into each other/and eyes, eyes glinting and charming, widening into looks and abandon,/and moans of movement, voices, hands in air, hands between thighs,/hands in moisture on softened lips, throbbing contraction of bellies/till the white come flow in the swirling sheets/and the bride cry for forgiveness, and the groom be covered with tears of passion and compassion,/and I rise up from the bed replenished with last intimate gestures and kisses of farewell—/all before the mind wakes, behind shades and closed doors in a darkened house/where the inhabitants roam unsatisfied in the night,/nude ghosts seeking each other out in the silence.
MR. FORAN: Would you explain the religious significance of that poem?
THE WITNESS: As part of our nature, as part of our human nature, we have many loves, many of which are denied, many of which we deny to ourselves. He said that the reclaiming of those loves and the becoming aware of those loves was the only way that this nation could save itself and become a democratic and spiritual republic. He said that unless there were an infusion of feeling, of tenderness, of fearlessness, of spirituality, of natural sexuality, of natural delight in each other’s bodies into the hardened, materialistic, cynical, life denying, clearly competitive, afraid, scared, armored bodies, there would be no chance for a spiritual democracy to take place in America. And he defined that tenderness between the citizens as, in his words, an adhesiveness, a natural tenderness flowing between all citizens as, in his words, an adhesiveness, a natural tenderness flowing between all citizens, not only men and women but also a tenderness between men and men as part of our democratic heritage, part of the adhesiveness which would make the democracy function; that men could work together not as competitive beasts but as tender lovers and fellows. So he projected from his own desire and from his own unconsciousness a sexual urge he felt was normal to the unconscious of most people, though forbidden, for the most part, to take part. Walt Whitman is one of my spiritual teachers and I am following him in this poem taking off from a line of his own and projecting my own actual unconsciousness feeling of which I don’t have shame, sir, which I feel are basically charming, actually.