Howl And Other Poems Allen Ginsberg Pdf

howl and other poems allen ginsberg pdf

File Name: howl and other poems allen ginsberg .zip
Size: 1697Kb
Published: 27.04.2021

Allen Ginsberg was one of the founding fathers of the Beat Generation with his revolutionary poem "Howl. His mother Naomi had immigrated from Russia to the states while his father Louis was a poet and teacher. The young Ginsberg, who kept a journal from his pre-teen years and took to the poetry of Walt Whitman in high school, went on to attend Columbia University.

Howl, and Other Poems Characters

To browse Academia. Skip to main content. By using our site, you agree to our collection of information through the use of cookies. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy. Log In Sign Up. Download Free PDF. American Literature, Ben Lee. Download PDF. A short summary of this paper. These poems announce both a new American poetry and a number of overlapping new social movements-gay liberation and the antiwar movement, in particular-that gained momentum in the United States in the s and early s.

Focusing on Ginsberg's first published volume, ''Howl' ' and Other Poems , I argue for a newly historicized and melancholic reading of a poet whose important but complicated position in U. To the extent that Ginsberg's great poems of the s, Howl above all, are prophecies of emergent movements and collectivities, they are also elegies for cherished pasts at risk of receding irretrievably, of being inconspicuously transformed and finally erased by narratives of progress that manage-by dint of historical victories-to limit the possibilities of the future.

Like Benjamin's image of the flowers of the past striving constantly to reorient themselves in relation to that sun which is rising in the sky of history, the flowers we find scattered throughout Ginsberg's ''Howl'' and Other Poems retain their own undeniable agency and attraction.

We can only understand them as fully as Benjamin suggests we might, however, if we manage to read against the unidirectional, categorically progressive heliotropisms that have too long oriented our approach to them.

We need to reassert Ginsberg's tendency to commemorate the resources of the past, to infuse them with the poetic energies of the present, to reconfigure them in the face of shifting historical circumstance. Narratives of postwar American verse frequently begin with economic prosperity, bureaucratization, and conformity, and with the ''closed'' poetic forms that seem both to echo and to help produce these more widespread social attributes.

These closed forms are selfcontained rhetorical structures, traditionally rhymed and metered, animated by tightly constructed tonal or metaphorical tensions. They come complete with their own bureaucratico-educational practice close reading , their own managers the New Critics , and their own white-collar workforce instructors of literature in American high schools, colleges, and universities.

Into this scene come the open poetic forms, infused with personal and social content, of poets like the Beats, the New York School, and the Black Mountain group. Donald Allen's landmark anthology, The New American Poetry , rightly stands as synecdoche for this literary-historical watershed. It clarifies and consolidates for poets and critics alike the full strength and diversity of this movement toward free verse and apparent spontaneity of composition. It serves as a fulcrum that propels us forward in literary history, toward the dominant poetic statements confessional, experimental, openly political and countercultural movements of the s and s.

In Ginsberg's case, there is real cultural momentum behind narratives founded on some version of the following chronology: Ginsberg reads Howl for the first time at the Six Gallery in , when the Beat movement begins to gain public acclaim; participates in early antiwar protests in ; serves on the planning committee for the quintessentially ''hippie'' Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park in ; chants mantras to calm Yippies and police outside the Democratic Convention in Chicago; and gives his famous Gay Sunshine interview in , in which he speaks about his homosexuality more openly, some have suggested, than any public or literary figure ever has before.

For all such stories of forward movement-from Beat poetry to social criticism, from rebellious aesthetics to organized mass demonstrations, from gay poetry to gay liberation-lose something in the telling. In particular, the above chronology manages to elide Ginsberg's attachments to the Left-collective cultures that thrived in the years preceding World War II, cultures Ginsberg endows with a strange, anachronistic afterlife during the vehemently anticommunist years of the Cold War.

Focusing on the anachronisms, repetitions, and potentially fruitful revisions that Ginsberg's generational vision enfolds, one discovers an alternative to the progressive-generational models most often called upon to define postwar culture. Such models tend to lose sight of melancholic attachments to past ideals or failed movements, lost objects of identification that are never fully mourned or forgotten and that continue to animate the texts of the present. They ignore those identifications alternately concealed and exposed, built into and constantly revised by social subjects in the face of unstable local and historical contexts.

They ignore those disjunctions we experience when social identities assumed to belong to previous generations resurface to disrupt our confident notions of the contemporary. Benjamin's angel of history, while he is driven ''irresistibly.

This vision helps illuminate the historical disjunctions of U. Such disjunctions are reproduced and reconfigured in Howl, Ginsberg's great and indelible statement of postwar political upheaval, and in a whole series of images and thematic juxtapositions from his poems of the s.

It performs its melancholic attachment to the working-class collectives of the past even while it strives onward, toward the queer liberations and new collectivities of the future. It suggests that the pull of the future-the storm that propels Benjamin's angel forward, or ''that sun which is rising in the sky of history''-is no more insistent than the continued strivings of the past, and that the two can only be redeemed together.

Without question, Ginsberg maintained throughout his life a deep attachment to the ideals and organizations of the prewar left. His mother, Naomi Ginsberg, was a dedicated communist who took her young sons to Party meetings in Paterson, New Jersey, and vacationed with them at a Yiddish-American summer camp where ''the adults debated ideology'' and ''[p]ictures of the enemy-capitalists and socialists with exaggerated features, blood dripping from their hands-lined the walls of the mess halls'' DL,9.

Louis, at constant odds with Naomi over left political questions and frequently taken to task for what she considered his overly bourgeois perspective on both poetry and politics, would recite Dickinson, Poe, Shelley, Keats, and Milton as he moved around the house.

Naomi, as Ginsberg recalled for a biographer, countered Louis's recitations by improvising fables for her children in which ''the king or prince went out and saw the condition of the workers and helped them out and everyone lived happily ever after'' DL, 7.

Neither Ginsberg's passion for political debates and fairy tales nor his connections to left organizations ended with childhood. Both during and after college, Ginsberg's devotion to literature overwhelmed his initial plan to study labor law or economics and to devote himself to the struggle against poverty and exploitation.

Nevertheless, he retained throughout his life a stated affective and philosophical affinity with left organizations and political activities, an affinity that distinguished him from such Beat fellow travelers as Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. While Kerouac and Burroughs may have subscribed to many of Ginsberg's criticisms of American life, they would never have found themselves defending the foreign policy of the Soviet Union in the late s, as Ginsberg did in letters to his father.

Despite negative encounters with communist governments in Havana and Prague and a growing lack of faith in all Cold War governments, Ginsberg never gave up the hope that the spirit of the radical Left might be reanimated DL, 23,,,,. We can gain further insight into Ginsberg's political identifications around the time he composed Howl, and into the strangely haunted and interstitial historical position this poem articulates, by considering Ginsberg's relationship with Carl Solomon. While ''Howl'' and Other Poems is dedicated, as a volume, to Kerouac, Burroughs, and Neal Cassady, Howl itself is dedicated to Solomon, whom Ginsberg met in a psychiatric institute in Red movements were flourishing everywhere.

On the City College campus in , when I began college, there were at least five hundred supporters of the American Communist Party out of a student body of a couple of thousand. Such was the educational environment of the war generation. We were raised under these slogans: Win the war, destroy fascism. After the war: full employment and the ''century of the common man.

Hitler and Mussolini and Tojo were seen as the most significant tyrants of history. Moods have changed and time has brought about a difference in us all. After the war, America was to break with her wartime allies and they were to grapple on the battlefields of Korea. The great disillusionment was to come.

My travels brought me to Europe and to the West Indies and I had a glimpse of the world that the war against fascism had created. What I saw in Cuba in was a preview of what was to come in the late fifties.

What I saw in Yugoslavia in was the Partisans, wearing red stars on their arms. Only in America and from America came the slogan: Freedom. The slogan freedom meant white supremacy and the suppression of every movement for human hope on the face of the planet. So the cold war began. The men, like Franco of Spain, whom we had been taught to hate we were now told were our allies in a struggle against the ''Eastern Bloc. Who knows what his opinions are amid such nonsense. In memoirs of the period, this history surfaces insistently as a previous kind of bohemian posture quickly forgotten once Beat, bebop, and postbop culture displaced the political investments, styles of dress, and proletarian folk songs that still echoed around Washington and Union squares in the s.

On one hand, the avant-garde tended to depict these proletarian styles and political investments as unquestionably obsolete and unworthy of serious consideration; on the other, the ideological force of these styles and investments still haunted the ''new'' American artists and erupted stubbornly in their poems, memoirs, and magazines.

In what one might call a catalog as generational parable a phrase one could also apply to Howl , Solomon begins with youthful idealism, proceeds by geopolitical observation, and culminates in existentialist cynicism. Just before and into the Eisenhower era, left intellectuals such as Herbert Marcuse and C. Wright Mills developed critical positions that began with dire assessments of social and political life in the United States and other advanced industrial nations.

Diagnosing ''the troubles that confront. He portrays an international middle class increasingly dominant both in sheer numbers and in the prevalence of its social experiences, yet with no enabling or critically and politically empowering sense of its own social position. Whether communist, fascist, or capitalist, advanced industrial societies with the sudden potential to meet the basic material needs of their citizens have begun to realize this potential using technological and organizational means that also increase ''the scope of society's domination over the individual.

While these New Left intellectuals situate hope and resistance within critical analysis or in the space of properly dialectical thought, Solomon's hope appears precisely in his invocation of lost hope, of an Old Left faith now untenable, of a belief in political agency that no longer seems viable. Even as this lost faith structures his cynicism, it designates a potential alternative to his current political affect.

It creates a temporal disjunction, calling up a past social identity at once buried under cynicism and exposed to justify it but which cannot be exposed without simultaneously underscoring a position of resistance both to that cynicism and to the post-Fordist, Cold War forces that produce it. In Ginsberg's poems of the s, such melancholic attachments to the Old Left generate even greater rhetorical energy. They come to symbolize the continued possibility of questioning prosperity and resisting the sophisticated social controls of advanced industrial society.

They act to disrupt dominant postwar logics of present political consensus and future compromise, invoking the old as the sign of the new, inviting past generations to haunt the present, troubling the notion that some contemporary dominance will necessarily structure the future. There are longings here for love often a trope for longing itself , for malemale sexual relations or camaraderie, for the means to express a self that feels infinite, and for the public acknowledgement of this capacious, God-like self and its capacity for poetry.

Few poets manage to be so consumed by and yet so optimistic about want, wish, and yearning as Ginsberg in the s. As infinite or transhistorical as these expressions of longing can seem, one soon notices them winding themselves around invocations of a lost past with a particular historical profile. Often this lost past emerges through images of automobiles and trains, connecting industrial production and working-class employment with Beat romanticizations of American machinery in endless motion along the roads and tracks of town and country.

These machines are stationary or inaccessible as often as they move freely; they signal failure or anticipation as frequently as they signal successful movements and happy deliveries.

These imaginary automobiles and ''once proud'' locomotives help create the impression of a past that is mourned because it cannot be recaptured but that is also celebrated because of what it continues to represent: solidarity and collectivity, shared purpose and freedom, the beauty of production, the promise that stationary machines and imaginations might be set in motion again. These are potential energies that Ginsberg repeatedly associates with the working classes. He attacks white-collar culture without hesitation and, not surprisingly for a poet who identified himself as bohemian, he seeds his Beat poems with heroic images of the lumpen proletariat: musicians, bums, junkies, and other ''angels'' of Skid Row.

Yet just as frequently as Ginsberg's work of the s attacks the middle class or sings the praises of the lumpen proletariat, it strives to imagine the proletariat. It fetishizes, celebrates, and sanctifies the working classes, placing them at the imaginative center of poems like ''In back of the real,'' ''In the Baggage Room at Greyhound,'' and ''Sunflower Sutra.

Ginsberg in the s continues to remember and hopes to reimagine an Old Left culture in which ''work and art, labor and beauty'' remain in constant dialogue, workers supporting artists who in turn celebrate the beauty of labor.

Unions were not inviting Ginsberg to conduct poetry readings in their halls, and in the postwar moment, the work-art dialectic of the s and s lacked viable sites in which it might develop.

Visiting Seattle's Wobbly Hall with Gary Snyder in , Ginsberg finds ''bleareyed dusty cardplayers dreaming behind the counter,'' with little faith in either themselves or their visitors: ''but these young fellers can't see ahead and we nothing to offer'' CP, Structured by their own elegiac insistence on failed communication and organizational absence, Ginsberg's proletarian images most often coalesce as expressions of longing, spiritual abstractions struggling to preserve a time when different forms of political culture seemed possible.

They become invocations of a moment when art might somehow engage with and reconstitute its relationship to conditions of labor, when poems might still represent an expansive left collectivity. Ginsberg's ''In back of the real'' presents something like a parable of this hope for strategically anachronistic resistance. The poem expands the melancholy of Old Left identification articulated in Solomon's ''I Was a Communist Youth'' into a metaphysical poetics of industry that might sustain itself even without the organizational spaces and supports of the s and s: railroad yard in San Jose I wandered desolate in front of a tank factory and sat on a bench near the switchman's shack.

A flower lay on the hay on the asphalt highway -the dread hay flower I thought-It had a brittle black stem and corolla of yellowish dirty spikes like Jesus' inchlong crown, and a soiled dry center cotton tuft like a used shaving brush that's been lying under the garage for a year.

Yellow, yellow flower, and flower of industry, tough spiky ugly flower, flower nonetheless, with the form of the great yellow Rose in your brain! This is the flower of the World CP, Ginsberg moves in this poem from a series of physical juxtapositions rendered in prepositional phrases to a series of imaginative, idealized relationships represented through metaphor. This movement takes the reader from the initial desolation of the industrial space, emptied out and militarized, to a Blakean vision of the blessed and beautiful form within all creatures.

The absent labor that defines this space as the poem begins-referred to obliquely as the speaker situates himself ''in back of the.

Howl, Parts I & II

As a result of their non-conformist mindset, the people in the poem often find themselves at odds with law enforcement, academia, and even the constraints of time. Thematically, the poem is very similar to Underground Film, which was a term used to describe the more countercultural and experimental subset of avant-garde film. What is the purpose of combining so many cinematic influences, especially in a literary medium? The answer lies in the film editing technique called montage, which was first brought to American films via the Soviets in the early 20th century. Therefore, though he may at first seem like a passive observer, the fact that he has a memory of such specific details reveals that he was most likely part of the activity at the time it was happening. Similarly, montages in films are used to condense events that may have taken place over the course of hours or even days into a shorter span of time. Instead of abiding by-pre-established authority, the people in the poem create their own.


AND OTHER POEMS. BY. ALLEN GINSBERG. ' Unscrew the locks from the doors! Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!' CITY UGHTS BOOKS.


BIOGRAPHY NEWSLETTER

Allen Ginsberg was the bard of the beat generation, and Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems is a collection of his finest work published in Penguin Modern Classics, including 'Howl', whose vindication at an obscenity trial was a watershed moment in twentieth-century history. This new collection brings together the famous poems that made his name as a defining figure of the counterculture. They include the apocalyptic 'Howl', which became the subject of an obscenity trial when it was first published in ; the moving lament for his dead mother, 'Kaddish'; the searing indictment of his homeland, 'America'; and the confessional 'Mescaline'.

Quick Facts

Word Count: The poem begins with the famous line, "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked," and continues in that vein, describing the suffering of Ginsberg's peers. Get free access to the library by create an account, fast download and ads free. A post world war poem, published in , the poem shows strong distaste for the contemporary consumer culture, warfare and monstrous capitalism. The elder Ginsberg taught poetry at Rutgers and played a leading role in the prestigious, though stodgy, Poetry Society of America.

The letters of Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti chart a year friendship and two storied careers. Don Share is the editor of Poetry Magazine, a poet and translator, and a gem of a human. He chats with Danez and Franny about the mechanics and ethos of One of the most respected Beat writers and acclaimed American poets of his generation, Allen Ginsberg was born on June 3, in Newark, New Jersey and raised in nearby Paterson, the son of an English teacher and Russian expatriate.

What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Ashcans and unobtainable dollars! Children screaming under the stairways!

Howl and Other Poems

0 COMMENTS

LEAVE A COMMENT