GINSBERG, Allen Kaddish and other poems. San Francisco: City Lights, 1961.
Small 4to., original iconic black-and-white card wraps, pp. 100, near-fine, just a hint of toning and some very light creasing along spine, ever-so-slightly chipped at foot. A lovely example. Scarce.
First edition, Pocket Poet Series Number Fourteen. The rare first issue, priced $1.50 to lower cover, with 10 lines of blurb and note of Villiers publication address to bottom of last page. Signed by Ginsberg to the title page: "Allen Ginsberg 4/24/85 AH London."
Kaddish as a collection of poems is officially dedicted to Peter Orlovsky, Ginsberg's long-term partner, with the words "Taste my mouth in your ear" to the preliminary pages. However the title poem itself is dedicated to his mother - with the full title reading 'Kaddish for Naomi Ginsberg 1894-1956' - who had passed away a few years previously. Ginsberg had begun writing the poem in the Beat Hotel in Paris in December 1957, and it was completed two years later in New York. The opening lines are wistful: "Strange now to think of you, gone without corsets & eyes, while I walk on the sunny pavement of Greenwich Village./ downtown Manhattan, clear winter noon, and I’ve been up all night, talking, talking, reading the Kaddish aloud, listening to Ray Charles blues shout blind on the phonograph…", as the poet struggles to comes to terms with his grief and also to reconcile these emotions with his estrangement to the religion he was brought up in. The Kaddish, often referring specifically to the 'Mourners Kaddish', is used in Judaism at funerals and in the following 11 months after a bereavement.
After Howl, Kaddish is widely considered to be one of Ginsberg's finest poems.