Sunday, March 25, 2007

Artistic Freedom and Jim Morrison

During his brief life Jim Morrison was once quoted as saying, "If my poetry aims to achieve anything, it's to deliver people from the limited ways in which they see and feel."

Jim Morrison was a rebel poet subjected to severe censor and punishment for behavior that today is more or less expected of rock stars. Yet, in March of 1969, Morrison was arrested on stage for "indecent exposure" and sentenced to eight months of hard labor. The real crime for which Morrison was found guilty; was expression of music and lyrics both iconoclastic and anarchist in a refusal to accept social repression and restraint.

Artistic freedom as defined by the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment was on trial and freedom lost the day Morrison was sent to prison. The Morrison that appeared after his incarceration was a ghost of the youth who sang, "You can light my fire." Dispirited and in failing health due to heroin addiction, Morrison disappeared from the limelight.

Morrison moved to Paris with his longtime partner and spent his last days writing poetry. He read the poetry of Rimbaud, Verlaine and Baudelaire and strolled through Pere-Lachaise; city of the dead. It is understandable that Morrison was attracted to these French poets as they were interested in the relationship between music and poetic language. Although Morrison's poetry was rich and promising in imagery, he died of a presumed overdose of heroin before his literary voice reached maturity.

Despite his untimely death, Morrison held the line for art and inscribed on his tomb in Pere-Lachaise are the Greek words; "KATA TON DAIMONA EAYTOVA meaning, True to his Spirit."

Morrison infused rock music with a vital, dynamic and rich literary context. If you are interested in a more scholarly discussion of his music follow the links. Morrison's rock group was named, "The Doors" in the tradition of Aldous Huxley; inviting others to walk through and find their light. To this day Morrison remains an icon and a cult figure.

This poem of Baudelaire written long before the birth of Morrison serves as a fine literary requiem.

by: Charles Baudelaire

AM as lovely as a dream in stone,
And this my heart where each finds death in turn,
Inspires the poet with a love as lone
As clay eternal and as taciturn.

Swan-white of heart, a sphinx no mortal knows,
My throne is in the heaven's azure deep;
I hate all movements that disturb my pose,
I smile not ever, neither do I weep.

Before my monumental attitudes,
That breathe a soul into the plastic arts,
My poets pray in austere studious moods,

For I, to fold enchantment round their hearts,
Have pools of light where beauty flames and dies,
The placid mirrors of my luminous eyes.


Lautréamont said...

What a great eulogy to Jim Morrison! Baudelaire's poem is perfectly chosen, I think both men would have understood each other very well.

Many years ago I visited Morrison's grave quite often, and each time I was impressed of how his fame never diminished but even seemed to grow. Maybe that's because he is a symbol of Universal Youth.

Best wishes to La Princesse from

sydneyland said...

Hello princess,

I wonder what Jim Morrison would say about this strange not so new century that's growing all around us. What would a mature 60 something Morrison dream about this era?

To paraphrase the Angel in "It's a Wonderful Life". "The loss of just one life leaves, an awfully big hole".

Princess Haiku said...

Do you have any photos of Pere- Lachaise that you could post?

Indeterminacy said...

I enjoyed your post very much and recommended it to my muse also, who loves the music and poetry of Jim Morrison. I could never understand the reviews I read in my old copy of the "Rolling Stone Record Guide" which claims the Doors are overrated. I don't think so.

Lautréamont said...

Madame La Princesse,
unfortunately I don't, otherwise it would have been my pleasure to fulfill your royal request.

The simple reason is that I am not so much into photography myself, althouhgh I adore that of others!

With a deep bow,
your servant L.

Anonymous said...

I just returned from Muriel de Bevere's sumptuous photo tour of Pere Lachaise(thank you, Princess, for leading me there), and periodically I would wonder, will we see Morrison's grave? Too caught up in the beauty of her work to be disappointed that we didn't, imagine my pleasant surprise when I backed out, scrolled down and saw this post.
I agree with indeterminacy. The Doors were seminal in so many ways, for Rolling Stone to say they're overrated just confirms the impression I've had since mid 80's: Rolling Stone has lost it.
The Baudelaire is exquisite.
Thanks again,

actorpoet said...

I enjoyed reading your thoughts on Jim Morrison. He was in my opinion completely misunderstood by society, the media especially. He was a unique individual blessed with a gift for words. He was vastly underrated as a poet I feel. A true visionary of a rare breed of intellectuals that possessed a talent that was not only astonishing but one that would inspire many generations. I love Baudelaire's poem. It fits Morrison's psyche like a glove. Beautifully written and extremely passionate as Jim was. He is an icon, an enigma that will forever continue to thrive in all of those who appreciated, love and found inspiration and comfort in his poetry and music. May he rest in peace, he will never be forgotten.