Among the links in the “chain of strong-breath’d poems,” “Kral Majales” contains some of Ginsberg’s strongest affirmations of human love as a force sufficient to overcome the powers of evil. The poem was written in May, 1965, after Ginsberg had been “sent from Havana” when his hosts found that he was not sympathetic to their suppression of unconventional behavior, and then “sent from Prague” when the authorities became nervous that a hundred thousand Czech citizens were deliriously cheering a bearded, anarchic American poet who was advocating action directly opposed to the political workings of their drab dictatorship. Ginsberg had been chosen as King of May by students and intellectuals in an ancient custom that had endured centuries of upheaval and conquest by foreign empires.
The poem begins as a comic rant juxtaposing the foolishness of capitalists who “proffer Napalm and money in green suitcases to the Naked” with his disappointment in the actuality of a communist government after hearing his mother “reading patiently out of Communist fairy book.” Instead of a worker’s paradise, the Communists “create heavy industry but the heart is also heavy.”
After a balance of images condemning the idiocy of both sides, Ginsberg shifts the tone of the poem completely; he sets against the darkness of modern industrial decay at its most deadly the life-giving properties of the office with which he has been honored and which he honors in the poem. In a great list, he describes the King of May—himself, in this current incarnation—as a mythic savior who offers the powers of art, love, invention, true religion, and the excitement of language in action. Using the phrase “I am” to keep the beat, his long line pulses with energy; the method of juxtaposition utilized in “Howl” is even more concentrated and direct:
And I am the King of May, which is the power of sexual youth,and I am the King of May, which is industry in eloquence and action in amour,and I am the King of May, which is long hair of Adam and the Beard of my own bodyand I am the King of May, which is Kral Majales in the Czechoslovakian tongue,and I am the King of May, which is old Human poesy, and 100,000 people chose my name.
Ginsberg goes on to cite his other qualifications, including an inclusive, ecumenical vision of religion, labeling himself a “Buddhist Jew/ who worships the Sacred Heart of Christ the blue body of Krishna the straight back of Ram/ the beads of Chango the Nigerian singing Shiva Shiva in a manner which I have invented.” “Kral Majales” concludes with the almost breathless excitement of the poet arriving at “Albion’s airfield” still vibrating with the...
(The entire section is 659 words.)