Kenneth Rexroth was born in South Bend, Indiana and frequently moved around the Midwest during his childhood. He led a tumultuous life that included being orphaned at 14, constant traveling both in the US and abroad, intense political activism, and four marriages. Largely self-educated, he is one of the most well-read poets of the 20th century. His poems, which influenced Beat writers such as Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, reflect this tremendous reading, and emphasize ecology, sexuality, and mysticism. In his poem “Discrimination,” Rexroth shows a more political side as he cleverly mocks racial stereotypes.
More By This Poet
On What Planet
Uniformly over the whole countryside
The warm air flows imperceptibly seaward;
The autumn haze drifts in deep bands
Over the pale water;
White egrets stand in the blue marshes;
Tamalpais, Diablo, St. Helena
Float in the air.
Climbing on the cliffs of Hunter’s Hill
We look out over...
The Bad Old Days
The summer of nineteen eighteen
I read The Jungle and The
Research Magnificent. That fall
My father died and my aunt
Took me to Chicago to live.
The first thing I did was to take
A streetcar to the stockyards.
In the winter afternoon,
Gritty and fetid, I...
The Wheel Revolves
You were a girl of satin and gauze
Now you are my mountain and waterfall companion.
Long ago I read those lines of Po Chu I
Written in his middle age.
Young as I was they touched me.
I never thought in my own middle...
I don’t mind the human race.
I’ve got pretty used to them
In these past twenty-five years.
I don’t mind if they sit next
To me on streetcars, or eat
In the same restaurants, if
It’s not at the same table.
However, I don’t approve
Of a woman...