Themes and Meanings

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 499

“Wales Visitation” is a poem about poetic inspiration, the oneness of all in the universe (humanity, nature, and God), and an appreciation of the natural world. All three issues are intertwined in this experience, inspired by Ginsberg’s LSD experimentation, in which he was trying to enhance the visionary experience through the use of hallucinatory drugs.

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The poem suggests that the poetic imagination can be inspired by the external world, and in this regard Ginsberg is moving away from poetry reflecting his own inner experience as a visionary to a poetry that records the poet’s response to the external “particulars,” as he calls them. The art of poetry enables one to see as Blake, Wordsworth, and all other poets—and God—can see. Like his predecessor and inspiration Blake, the poet assumes the role of godhead in Ginsberg’s vision. Through the use of LSD, the poet believes that he has enhanced his acute perceptions of the world outside himself and recognized the oneness of all spirit. That is, Ginsberg holds the Eastern idea that all the universe makes up “One Being” and that the role of the poet is that of prophet-inspirer who enables readers to see connections with this spirit emanating from all. Note particularly the images of breath and breathing, which Ginsberg takes as evidence of the oneness of all spirit.

Some of the most important lines in the poem occur in stanzas 5 through 9. In stanza 5, Ginsberg introduces the idea of “One Being on the mountainside stirring gently,” a line suggesting the oneness of all the universe and the Eastern concept of the godhead. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem and figure “Brahma,” a symbol of the oversoul according to transcendental philosophy, strikes comparison with Ginsberg’s vision since Ginsberg has been heavily influenced by transcendentalism and those influenced by it (American poets Whitman and William Carlos Williams, among others). Calling the earth his “Mother,” Ginsberg reflects on the idea that the natural world is the origin of all being, and each flower is described as “Buddha-eye, repeating the story,/ myriad-formed—.” Buddha is the incarnation of the divine according to the Buddhist religion, of which Ginsberg has been a practitioner since the 1960’s, and the meditative nature of the poem originates in part with Ginsberg’s frequent practice of Zen meditation.

Perhaps the most important line in the poem refers to “Heaven balanced on a grassblade,” suggesting the essential spirit and divinity of all living things. Within the microcosm of the individual blade of grass is all being itself, including the godhead. God, self, and nature are all inseparable. The poem concludes with a reiteration of this same concept: “What did I notice? Particulars! The vision of the great One is myriad” (stanza 9). The constant movement observed in this experience in Wales reflects the life and spirit within all and thus explains why the natural scenery is personified: The life of all, human and natural, is apart from and at the same time one with God.

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