At the Caffé Trieste

the music of ancient Greece

or Rome did not come down

to us

but this morning

I read Virgil’s Eclogues


by the prophecy of a new era

“a great new cycle of centuries

begins. Justice returns to Earth…

the golden age returns,” he wrote

of his millennium, describing

the birth of the infant god, “come down

from heaven.” Jesus was 19

when Virgil died at 89….

will the Golden Age never come?

same faces

thrown up each generation

same races, emotions and struggles

all those centuries, those countries!

languages, songs, discontents!

they return

here in San Francisco

as I sit in the Trieste

-recitative of years!

O Paradiso! sings the jukebox

as Virgil and Verdi combine

in this life

to produce the only Golden Age

there’ll be

Harold Norse at the Caffé Trieste. Photo © Ira Norwinski.
Harold Norse at the Caffé Trieste. Photo © Ira Nowinski.
  • Share on Tumblr

Celebrating Harold Norse’s 98th Birthday

On the occasion of what would have been Harold Norse’s 98th birthday, I have a couple video clips to share after stumbling upon on a Greek YouTube page dedicated to poetry. I’m not aware of the source for these rare clips of Harold interviewed in the side room of his back cottage on Albion Street, where he lived in San Francisco’s Mission district.

The first clip shows Harold talking about the influence of William Carlos Williams on the development of his mature poetic voice. Williams encouraged him to move away from academic poetry and instead follow the spoken language that Harold heard on the streets of his native Brooklyn. Williams called it the American Idiom, which served as the title for the collection of their correspondence.

The clip closes with Harold recounting his first meeting with a then teenage Allen Ginsberg on a deserted, late night New York subway. The full story is descriptively conveyed in Norse’s Memoirs of a Bastard Angel.

In the second clip, Harold reads his famous poem “At the Café Trieste,” composed at the North Beach landmark. Having recently repatriated from fifteen years in Europe and North Africa, Harold describes his return to the West Coast poetry scene from the timeless perspective of the poet.

While your at mpakana’s channel check out some more of the amazing poetry footage including extremely rare clips of North Beach’s great poet Bob Kaufman.


  • Share on Tumblr