Allen Ginsberg Reads a Poem He Wrote on LSD to William F. Buckley

On September 3, 1968, William F. Buckley invited poet Allen Ginsberg onto his TV program, “Firing Line.” It was an odd encounter. “We’re here to talk about the avant-garde,” Buckley says grandiloquently. “I should like to begin by asking Mr. Ginsberg whether he considers that the hippies are an intimation of the new order.”

“Ah,” says Ginsberg, “why don’t I read a poem?”

Buckley smiles uncomfortably as Ginsberg reaches into his bag and pulls out a poem called “Wales Visitation,” written under the influence of LSD during a visit the previous year to the ancient ruins of Tintern Abbey, on the River Wye in Southeast Wales. It was the same place that inspired William Wordsworth to write his “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey” in 1798 and Alfred, Lord Tennyson to write “Tears, Idle Tears” in 1847. Buckley settles back in his chair as Ginsberg reads three of nine stanzas from “Wales Visitation,” beginning with the first:

White fog lifting & falling on mountain-brow
Trees moving in rivers of wind
The clouds arise
as on a wave, gigantic eddy lifting mist
above teeming ferns exquisitely swayed
along a green crag
glimpsed thru mullioned glass in valley raine–

To follow along with the other two stanzas recited by Ginsberg and to read the rest of the poem, you can open this page in a new window. Also don’t miss Ginsberg reading his signature Beat poem, “Howl”. It’s a rollicking 26 minute affair, and you can always find it in our collection of Free Audio Books.

Related Content:

William F. Buckley Meets (Possibly Drunk) Jack Kerouac, Tries to Make Sense of Hippies, 1968

Ken Kesey’s First LSD Trip Animated

William F. Buckley Flogged Himself to Get Through Atlas Shrugged

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