Calm Panic Campaign Promise By Alan Ginsberg

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(596 words)

2022 is only days away, a time for celebration and cheer, though are we avoiding looking at the environmental damage caused by the progress we have made in such time? The need for more, the taking without giving back. Alan Ginsberg’s poem “Calm Panic Campaign Promise” is a few thoughts on the, sometimes, careless way problems are ignored.

Many of Ginsberg’s poems show his honest opinion on world issues and “Calm Panic Campaign Promise” is no exception. It is a poem designed to make everybody sit up and notice. The opening lines using, “end of millennium” and “earth decay” are major themes. It makes the reader realise that the millennium was a big turning point, a time to look back at what has been done. This leads directly onto earth’s ongoing decay emphasising that through all achievements the earth has been abused for it. I think these contrasting ideas can make the reader think of how people overspend and overuse during Christmas still ignoring their carbon footprint and another year to reach their own sustainability ambitions. With all the happiness of these festive celebrations, there is the global dilemma of earth’s decay. Could some of their actions be put to different causes?

Alan Ginsberg uses the line, “we’re the great beast” to reinforce the point that man’s behaviour has caused the earth’s decay. This is shown further in, “fire water air tainted” to which thoughts can be turned to such problems as car fumes and plastic use. These truths are of a list that could go on and on. The poem is only on the fourth line but is already very thought-provoking using this to show that everyone can be guilty of ignorance.

Instead of using facts to get his point across, Ginsberg uses the simile of the diseased body to put his points in a way to which every person can relate.  This is shown in the line, “like watching gum disease and not brushing your teeth”. This is further shown in, “getting heart failure, no rest much stress”. This makes the reader think in general terms and the use of the words, “disease” and “stress” make them realise that to overcome those problems they have to put some effort in to stop it. If they do not, it could get worse.  This is what it meant in, “poor circulation, smoke more”, emphasising the denial of many people.

Denial is used twice in the poem with the lines, “denial in Government” and “need President who’ll reverse the denial”. This brings to mind how even hierarchy is guilty of the decay if not more than the citizens of each country. The thought that their knowledge will help us, as Ginsberg puts it, to “restore nature’s balance”.

However, we need more to restore this balance. We need to “calm panic”. Ginsberg sees the panic at the conditions of the earth filling the “dark bed of thoughts of the people who feel unable to do anything to stop it”. While we panic, we are unable to consider how we might take action so we deny that there is a problem. Ginsberg seems to believe that a president could see the situation and lead action to remove this.

Like many of the people Ginsberg writes of, I might have dark night thoughts on rare occasions and recognise that progress has had huge environmental costs. However, while I would join into schemes designed to avoid environmental damage, I might sometimes forget or want to enjoy driving my car and spending money. Most of the time everyday living fills the thoughts.

“Calm Panic Campaign Promise”  (from 1992, from Cosmopolitan Greetings)

End of Millennium

Earth’s decay –

Fire Air Water tainted

We’re the Great Beast –

Dark bed thoughts

Can’t do anything to stop it

Denial in Government, in Newspapers of Record –

Like watching gum disease and not brushing teeth

Getting heart failure, no rest much stress

Putting salt on your greasy pork

Putting sugar in coffee you’ve diabetic

Dysesthesia on foot soles

Poor circulation smoke more cigarettes

Kick your son under the table have another beer

Need President who’ll reverse the denial –

The Calm Panic Party

to restore nature’s balance

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