Analysis of Ginsberg's Howl Essay

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William Wordsworth's definition of poetry as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" is more evident in Allen Ginsberg's Howl than just about any other poem (Wordsworth). Divided into three distinctive sections as well as an additional footnote, the poem utilizes a writing style based on self-symmetry to act as the framework for this overflow. The progression from one section to the next gives an impression of a crumbling society, brought to its knees through years of excessive lifestyle choices. Though the individual sections don't have official titles of their own, they could be assigned the titles of Life, Moloch, Rockland, and Holy respectively. The decision to include the footnote as separate from the original work is …show more content…
Ginsberg's publisher, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, predicted early on that there would be a public backlash to the release of Howl. Hoping to avoid it, he send the first manuscripts to England for publication, though they would inevitably be led back to San Fransisco. The constitutional right to free expression apparently only lasts as long as the general population agrees with what's being said, so there are sufficient legal grounds to sue an author for writing explicitly about sodomy, and there's still a heavy presence of censorship and regulation fifty years later. Though this has been the country's grim reality for as long as there have been reactionary commoners to get offended by swear words, Ginsberg ultimately triumphed in the court case. John McChesney, after a 2006 interview with the publisher, summarized the reaction had by Ginsberg after the arrests, writing, "Not long after it arrived in San Francisco, police arrested a bookseller at City Lights -- the iconic book store -- and charged publisher Ferlinghetti with obscenity. The ensuing trial delighted Ginsberg, who knew it would only enhance the poem's reputation" (McChesney). Ginsberg's prediction turned out to be correct, and the poem now has the distinction of being the most significant and popular poem published during the era. Its significance was even
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