The World Is a Beautiful Place (transcript)

Campbell Kennedy: Hello, my name is Campbell Kennedy. I’m a student at Duke Ellington School of the Arts and the name of my poem is “The World Is a Beautiful Place,” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. And the reason that this is my favorite poem is that about 40 years ago, my scope of poetry was very narrow, very thin, and as a result I never thought that I would particularly enjoy writing it. But after reading this poem and seeing what it could do, both talk about very sad things but at the same time talk about very happy things, and yet it all being very relevant, I guess, I don’t know, for lack of a better word. Anyway, let me just read.

The world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don’t mind happiness
not always being
so very much fun
if you don’t mind a touch of hell
now and then
just when everything is fine
because even in heaven
they don’t sing
all the time

The world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don’t mind some people dying
all the time
or maybe only starving
some of the time
which isn’t half so bad
if it isn’t you

Oh the world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don’t much mind
a few dead minds
in the higher places
or a bomb or two
now and then
in your upturned faces
or such other improprieties
as our Name Brand society
is prey to
with its men of distinction
and its men of extinction
and its priests
and other patrolmen
and its various segregations
and congressional investigations
and other constipations
that our fool flesh
is heir to

Yes the world is the best place of all
for a lot of such things as
making the fun scene
and making the love scene
and making the sad scene
and singing low songs of having
and walking around
looking at everything
and smelling flowers
and goosing statues
and even thinking
and kissing people and
making babies and wearing pants
and waving hats and
and going swimming in rivers
on picnics
in the middle of the summer
and just generally
‘living it up’

but then right in the middle of it
comes the smiling

Thank you very much.