Ginsberg’s use of anaphora forces us to question the historical origins of both social afflictions and collective resistance in Howl, this blurring of the poet’s central objects of identification implies that his lamentation for the madness of his own generation is also a lamentation for the blighted hopes and wasted intellects of their precursors (384).
It was a 1951 TIME cover story, which dubbed the Beats a ‘Silent Generation, ’ that led to Allen Ginsberg’s retort in his poem ‘America,’ in which he vocalises a frustration at this loss of self- importance. The fifties Beat Generation, notably through Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and Allen Ginsberg’s Howl as will here be discussed, fought to revitalise individuality and revolutionise their censored society which seemed to produce everything for the masses at the expense of the individual’s creative and intellectual potential. Indeed, as John Clellon Holmes once noted: “TIME magazine called them the Silent Generation, but this may have been because TIME was not
A group of rebels trample through San Francisco like mad men, breaking boundaries and getting arrested as often as a child is born. With dilated pupils and hair like Albert Einstein, these “Beat Poet” creatures cause an uproar as they roam the city. This is the image Allen Ginsberg depicts in his famous and controversial poem, Howl. The poem was written in 1955 and dedicated to Ginsberg’s dear friend, Carl Solomon. The poem was later published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti of City Lights Bookstore in 1956. Those years brought Ginsberg ample success and much attention but the post World War II realities still surrounded him. The 1950s were full of great political and social changes. Music, the arts, gender roles,
The form of Ginsberg’s poem challenges the American culture by resistance from “best minds”. Howl is separated to three sections that include long lines, which look like paragraphs. Resisting
Century apart, Allen Ginsberg and Walt Whitman share similar cultural, political and moral values, which they express in their literary work. Whitman’s writing is considered controversial for the eighteen hundreds. He sets the stage for generations to come breaking way from the strict Victorian poetic tradition by writing in free verse. Ginsberg follows his footsteps when composing his poem “Howl” by writing in long lines almost resembling prose and subdividing the poem into several parts. Likewise, he uses numerous repetitions to achieve rhythmicity of his verse. Ginsberg’s poem is heavily influenced by Whitman’s philosophy. The works “Song of myself” and “Howl” are similar in ideas, structure and underling themes. The two authors protest against old traditions imposed on the individual by corrupt society, stand against conformity and put emphasis on the need for change. They identify with their generation and dwell on themes such as sexuality, religion and the state of American society.
He writes “ I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, / dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix” ( lines 1-2). Frank Casale discusses these lines in his article “Literary Contexts in Poetry: Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl.’” He writes “The poem’s opening line has become one of the most famous in American poetry. It serves as an opening into the experience of madness, drugs, prophecy, and a new vision that compose the field of the first part of the poem” (Casale 1). This line introduces the theme of the poem and introduces Ginsberg’s view on insanity and the Beat lifestyle. He supports those “who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had a vision to find out Eternity, / [...] who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying for each other’s salvation” (60, 62). Casale continues by saying “In ‘Howl’ the Beats are repeatedly referred to as ‘angels,’ to connect those in search of the new consciousness or new vision [...] with the prophetic tradition. The quest for ‘kicks’ was not just an epicurean activity, but a serious search for freedom and new meaning in an America growing more conformist and authoritarian” (Casale 2). As a member of the Beat Generation, Ginsberg understands the Beat lifestyle and the way society views them, and he provides this generation with a
Ginsberg describes Beatniks who ate, wept, coughed, plunged, cut, balled, hiccupped, howled, broke, burned, cowered, and sank, yacketyyakking, screaming, vomiting, whispering. These endless verbs range from ecstatic to violent and give the poem an almost frantic tone that reflects the lives of the oppressed. Ginsberg even titles his poem “howl,” a cry of emotion and sorrow. To howl is to wail in self-pity, to be helpless and alone. Hearing a howl is both frightening and piercingly sad. A howl is a perfect representation of the collective cry of the Beats; a people trapped like helpless animals with nothing to do but howl in despair.
Poet Allen Ginsberg composed "Howl" in 1955 and it was published by City Lights Books of San Francisco, CA the following year. He composed the poem in the middle of the 1950s, one of the greatest decades in history for mainstream America. It had been a decade since the American and Allied victory in the second world war. Numerous American men returned home to a country in much better shape than expected, with many women having entered the workforce to keep the economy and industry alive in their absence. The spoils of war were great and America saw a great era of prosperity and domestic, suburban bliss. More interstate highways were constructed. Many more cars were produced and bought. It was a classic era for mainstream American culture in the 1950s. Yet in the haze of the suburbs, expansion of television, growth of Hollywood, and cars, present here were the seeds of rebellion and counterculture that was more indicative of the following decade, 1960s. One such seed is the poem
Walt Whitman is regarded as one of the most influential poets in American history while Allen Ginsberg was and still is considered a leading figure of the Beat Generation. Both of these poets have similar poetic tendencies even though they were almost a century apart from each other. Walt Whitman helped to inspire many literary descendants ranging from writers to poets alike. One of his most famous poems is in his book, “Leaves of Grass”, called “Song of Myself”. Allen Ginsberg can be considered one of Walt Whitman’s literary descendants due to the numerous similarities between “Song of Myself” and Ginsberg’s “Howl”, which is about the real experiences of Americans after World War II.
The Beat Generation is a literary movement during the 1950s that consisted of male authors including the widely known Allen Ginsberg, who explored American culture in their poems. The Beat Generation could be described as misogynistic and patriarchal due to their exclusion of women and concerns confined to only male outcasts. In Allen Ginsberg’s 1956 “Howl”, he brings his audience’s attention to male outcasts in society. In her 2015 “Howl”, a critical response to Ginsberg’s “Howl”, Amy Newman explores the oppression outcasted women endure in a male-dominated culture through the allusions of an admired female poet, Ginsberg’s original stanza form, and utilizing diction to convey a woman's perspective antithetically to Allen Ginsberg's original.
Allen Ginsberg was one of the founding fathers of what is considered the Beat Generation and the Beat Movement. Throughout his entire life he wrote multiple poems which voiced his certain opinions and thoughts about what America had been going through at the time. American poet, writer, and philosopher, Allen Ginsberg uses his life experiences and ideas on resistance, freedom, and the Beat Movement to express specific ideas within his poems.
It is evident from the very beginning that Ginsberg is disillusioned with American society, and he is ready to turn his back on what he feels has been oppressing him. "America I've given you all and now I'm
The Beat Generation of poets was created by a group of poets in the 1950s that were part of a new culture in literature. They chose to use their experiences in their writings which were widely criticized as well as loved by many readers. Two of the most influential Beat Poets of that Generation of writers were Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The Beat Generation poetry was the first poets to write about non-conventional subjects as well as using different forms of expression in their works. This generation of poets greatly influenced poets such as Anne Sexton, who wrote about personal experiences as well. The Beat Generation’s style of poetry have influenced many generations of poets after them.