The Writer’s Song, by Patti Smith

I did not wish to work
I did not wish to earn
but to curl with my jar
in the sweet sorghum
I laid my mat among the reeds
I could hear the freemen call
oh my life
what does it matter
will the reed cease bending
will the leper turn
I had a horn I did not blow
I had a sake and another
I could hear the freemen
drunk with sky
what matter my cry
will the moon swell
will the flame shy
banzai banzai
it is better to write
then die
in the blue crater
set with straw
I could hear
the freemen call
the way is hard
the gate is narrow
what matter I say
with the new mown hay
my pillow
I had a sake and another
I did not care to own nor rove
I wrote my name upon the water
nothing but nothing above
banzai banzai
it is better to write
than die
a thousand prayers
and souvenirs
set away in earthenware
we draw the jars
from the shelves
drink our parting
from ourselves
so be we king
or be we bum
the reed still whistles
the heart still hums

From the Auguries of Innocence (Ecco, 2005)

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