Allen Ginsberg’s collection Howl and Other Poems is a collection of poems that exudes rebellion. Every word and every stanza that Ginsberg writes throughout every single one of the poems is fueled with intentionality, and is used very purposefully to achieve a greater meaning. The entire collection is an allegory, Ginsberg publishes it in 1956, a time period
Similar to Marx, Ginsberg is against the idea of a small fraction of the people having significant control and power. Even though the poem is harsh on America, the goal of the author is not to shun or shame the country but try to better it. He is an extremely critical patriot trying to correct America’s flaws.
Allen Ginsberg in his work, “Howl” tries to present a social commentary and a revolution. Allen presents the struggle of the time when social pressures were quickly building up, and a revolution was necessary which would free people from all forms of oppression. Allen presents his experiences which is an encounter with his friend whom he met in a mental institution. Allen uses several literary techniques to present the insanities in life and how people continue to struggle with it in life which ends up in tragedies and cries.
With reference to Ginsberg's emulation of Walt Whitman's content, the Norton Anthology, Postmodern American Poetry, states that, "Ginsberg proposed a return to the immediacy, egalitarianism and visionary ambitions of Blake and Whitman." (130). His poem "America" caters toward themes of democracy, something Whitman's poetry also does. Yet unlike Whitman, Ginsberg takes a more questioning stance on America and does not use his poem to praise the nation.
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.
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.
In his second question, “America when will you be angelic?” the speaker asks America to be like an angel. The reference to angels can also be taken as a religious symbol or a symbol of peace and purity. This question is posed because the speaker believes that America is not pure and has no religious values or beliefs and therefore, needs to become pure and pious, hence angelic. Ginsberg’s diction in this verse also demonstrates the speaker’s frustration as if he has been waiting for America to “be angelic” and has been disappointed. Disappointment seems to be the cause of anger displayed by the speaker throughout the poem.
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
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, a Poet and activist was born on June 3, 1926 in Newark New Jersey and grew up in the Paterson city. He was raised by his parent Noami and Louis who were Russian immigrants who later became poets and teachers. At a young age Ginsberg began writing journals and later developed an interest in poetry in high school. He later attended Columbia University where he developed to be a literacy icon by participating in revolutionary culture movements against society. In 1959, Ginsberg legendary book “Howl” was published striking society of all it’s injustices towards our culture and how we need to fight for more equality.
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
“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness” (Ginsberg,I,1). If history has proven anything, it showed us that life in the 1950’s was emotionless. Many citizens had to follow a certain social order. For example business men had to act very sophisticated around others and women had to act reserved. Certain taboos subjects were usually off limits during conversations like sex, drugs and love. In Allen Ginsberg’s poem titled “Howl for Carl Solomon”, Ginsberg reveals the realities of the 1950’s lifestyle specifically through the use of literary techniques such as allusions, imagery and description, expressing the emotionless lives that the citizens were living, the corruption that the US government had on society and the madness that those who were not seen as the social norm, had to face. Ginsberg is famously known for having a special twist to his poems. First time readers of his work usually get a mixture of perspectives and feel like his work is unorganized. While contrary to that belief, his use of literary techniques opened a whole new way to express his emotions in his poems.