Lawrence Ferlinghetti was born in Yonkers, New York on March 24, 1919. He is an American poet, a keen painter and a liberal activist. His father, Carlo Ferlinghetti, died six months before he was born; shortly after his birth his mother was committed to an asylum. Many of his poems have been known to feature autobiographical elements such as, ‘The World is a Beautiful place’.
The poem basically takes us through the journey of life. Lawrence Ferlinghetti juxtaposes the positive and negative events that we will experience in our lifetime with complete veracity. Ferlinghetti is demonstrably critical of the contingent societal circumstances, and the implied alternative is certainly evident, particularly since he makes clear elsewhere the kind of society he desires. Society can be altered, but even the autocracy of proletarianism cannot expropriate the imminentness of death, ‘the smiling mortician’.
The main theme that features in the poem is the deceptiveness of life, ‘ if you don’t mind a touch of hell’. In terms of tone, there is a rising intonation during the positive events and a lowering intonation during the negative events. The change in intonation places great emphasis upon the sincerity of the events and how they are perceived.
Many of the lines in the poem provoke an array of images to form. ‘Swimming in rivers’. This imagery is associated with a whole host of natural connotations, the idea of swimming in an open river that is teeming with purity, is one that is intrinsic to nature.
The poem has no regular beats per line, implying that it has to a certain extent infrequency. There is some rhyming in the poem, but in an inconsistent format. This knowingly creates a sense of speed, which in turn, adds a climatic depth to the poem. The repetition and rhythm that features in the poem reinforce Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s point of view with emphasis. Lawrence Ferlinghetti has deliberately decided to include enjambement...