Title: Howl and Other Poems.
Author: Allen Ginsberg.
Genre: Literature, poetry,
Publication Date: 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956 (collection 1956).
Summary: A collection of 10 poems. Howl: For Carl Solomon (1954-1955) is one of the most famous poems of the counter-culture movement, is a protest, asking people to cry out against capitalism, exploitation, repression and subjugation. A Supermarket in California (1955) is a poem about a dreamlike encounter with Walt Whitman, one of Ginsberg's biggest idols. Transcription of Organ Music (1955) is an account of a quiet moment in the poet's new cottage in Berkeley, nearly empty, and a wish to be a great and admired poet. Sunflower Sutra (1955) is a poem of a desolate American landscape, destroyed and devastated by the careless work of modern society. America (1956) is a humorous poem that is a conversation between the narrator and America, offering serious criticism of the culture. In the Baggage Room at Greyhound (1956) describes working in the depths of the Greyhound Bus Terminal as a baggage clerk, and encountering all types of humanity waiting for the Los Angeles Express. In An Asphodel (1953), the poet writes about being able to fulfill his own desires, but no one else's. Song (1954) is a poem about how overwhelming and "heavy" love can be, but how in the end it nonetheless conquers all. Wild Orphan (1952) is about a lonely young boy who has grown up without a father, heart-breakingly encountering him for the first time. In Back of the Real (1954) is a meditation the poet has sitting in a railroad yard in San Jose, contemplating a flower and the mechanics of industry and modern civilization as a representation of industry's effect on the environment around it.
My rating: 7.5/10.
♥ Literally he has, from all the evidence, been through hell. On the way he met a man named Carl Solomon with whom he shared among the teeth and excrement of this life something that cannot be described but in the words he has used to describe it. It is a howl of defeat. Not defeat at all for he has gone through defeat as if it were an ordinary experience, a trivial experience. Everyone in this life is defeated but a man, if he be a man, is not defeated.
It is the poet, Allen Ginsberg, who has gone, in his own body, through the horrifying experiences described from life in these pages. The wonder of the thing is not that he has survived but that he, from the very depths, has found a fellow whom he can love, a love he celebrates without looking aside in these poems. Say what you will, he proves to us, in spite of the most debasing experiences that life can offer a man, the spirit of love survives to ennoble our lives if we have the wit and the courage and the faith—and the art! to persist.
♥ We are blind and live our blind lives out in blindness. Poets are damned but they are not blind, they see with the eyes of the angels. This poet sees through and all around the horrors he partakes of in the very intimate details of his poem. He avoids nothing but experiences it to the hilt. He contains it. Claims it as his own—and, we believe, laughs at it and has the time and affrontery to love a fellow of his choice and record that love in a well-made poem. Hold back the edges of your gowns, Ladies, we are going through hell.
~~from Howl from Carl Solomon by William Carlos Williams.
♥ 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,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,
..who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their torsos night after night
with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and endless balls,
incomparable blind streets of shuddering cloud and lighting in the mind leaping toward pole of Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the motionless world of Time between,
Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops, storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brooklyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind,
..who talked continuous seventy hours from park to pad to bar to Bellevue to museum, to the Brooklyn Bridge,
a lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills off Empire State out of the moon,
yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars,
..who wandered around and around at midnight in the railroad yard wondering where to go, and went, leaving no broken hearts,
..who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston seeking jazz or sex or soup, and followed the brilliant Spaniard to converse about America and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so took ship to Africa,
who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving behind nothing but the shadow of dungarees and the lava and ash of poetry scattered in fireplace Chicago,
..who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight in policecars for committing no crime but their own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication,
who howled on their knees in the subway and were dragged off the roof waving genitals and manuscripts,
..who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up with a sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath when the blond & naked angel came to pierce them with a sword,
who lost their loveboys to the three shrews of fate the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden threads of the craftsman's loom,
..who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on the snowbank docks waiting for a door in the East River to open to a room full of steamheat and opium,
who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment cliff-banks of the Hudson under the wartime blue floodlight of the moon & their heads shall be crowned with laurel in oblivion,
who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested the crab at the muddy bottom of the rivers of Bowery,
who wept at the romance of the streets with their pushcarts full of onions and bad music,
who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the bridge, and rose up to build harpsichords in their lofts,
who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded by orange crates of theology,
who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty incantations which in the yellow morning were stanzas of gibberish,
who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht & tortillas dreaming of the pure vegetable kingdom,
who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for an egg,
who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot for Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks fell on their heads every day for the next decade,
..who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse & the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of sinister intelligent editors, or were run down by the drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality,
..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 journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who came back to Denver & waited in vain, who watched over Denver & brooded & loned in Denver and finally went away to find out the Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes,
..who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hypnotism & were left with their insanity & their hands & a hung jury,
Who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturers on Dadaism and subsequently presented themselves on the granite steps of the madhouse with shaven heads and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding instantaneous lobotomy,
and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psychotherapy occupational therapy pingpong & amnesia,
..Pilgrim State's Rockland's and Greystone's foetid halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul, rocking and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a nightmare, bodies turned to stone as heavy as the moon,
..ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and now you're really in the total animal soup of time—
..who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space through images juxtaposed, and trapped the archangel of the soul between 2 visual images and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun and dash of consciousness together jumping with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus
to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human prose and stand before you speechless and intelligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet confessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm of thought in his naked and endless head,
the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown, yet putting down here what might be left to say in time to come after death,
and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the suffering of America's naked mind for love into an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio
with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand years.
♥ What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?
Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks!
..Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgment! Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stunned governments!
Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb!
Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows! Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long streets like endless Jehovahs! Moloch whose factories dream and cloak in the fog! Moloch whose smokestacks and antennae crown the cities!
Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen! Moloch whose name is the Mind!
Moloch in whom I sit lonely! Moloch in whom I dream Angels!
..Moloch in whom I am a consciousness without a body! Moloch who frightened me out of my natural ecstasy! Moloch whom I abandon! Wake up in Moloch! Light streaming out of the sky!
Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic industries! spectral nations! invincible mad houses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs!
They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pavements, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to Heaven which exists and is everywhere about us!
Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies! gone down the American river!
Dreams! adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole boatload of sensitive bullshit!
Breakthroughs! over the river! flips and crucifixions! gone down the flood! Highs! Epiphanies! Despairs! Ten years' animal screams and suicides! Minds! New loves! Mad generation! down on the rocks of Time!
Real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade farewell! They jumped off the roof! to solitude! waving! carrying flowers! Down to the river! into the street!
♥ Carl Solomon! I'm with you in Rockland where you're madder than I am
..I'm with you in Rockland where we are great writers on the same dreadful typewriter
..I'm with you in Rockland where you scream in a straitjacket that you're losing the game of the actual pingpong of the abyss
I'm with you in Rockland where you bang on the catatonic piano the soul is innocent and immortal it should never die ungodly in an armed madhouse
I'm with you in Rockland where fifty more shocks will never return your soul to its body again from its pilgrimage to a cross in the void
..I'm with you in Rockland where we wake up electrified out of the coma by our own souls' airplanes roaring over the roof they've come to drop angelic bombs the hospital illuminates itself imaginary walls collapse O skinny legions run outside O starry-spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is here O victory forget your underwear we're free
I'm with you in Rockland in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea-journey on the highway across America in tears to the door of my cottage in the Western night
♥ Holy the groaning saxophone! Holy the bop apocalypse! Holy the jazzbands marijuana hipsters peace & junk & drums!
Holy the solitudes of skyscrapers and pavements! Holy the cafeterias filled with the millions! Holy the mysterious rivers of tears under the streets!
Holy the lone juggernaut! Holy the vast lamb of the middle class! Holy the crazy shepherds of rebellion! Who digs Los Angeles IS Los Angeles!
~~from Howl: For Carl Solomon.
♥ Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be lonely.
Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe?
~~from Supermarket in California.
♥ I began to feel my misery in pallet on floor, listening to music, my misery, that's why I want to sing.
The room closed down on me, I expected the presence of the Creator, I saw my gray painted walls and ceiling, they contained my room, they contained me
as the sky contained my garden,
I opened my door
The rambler vine climbed up the cottage post, the leaves in the night still where the day had placed them, the animal heads of the flowers where they had arisen
to think at the sun
♥ The kindly search for growth, the gracious desire to exist of the flowers, my near ecstasy at existing among them
The privilege to witness my existence—you too must seek the sun...
♥ My books piled up before me for my use waiting in space where I placed them, they haven't disappeared, time's left its remnants and qualities for me to use—my words piled up, my texts, my manuscripts, my loves.
I had a moment of clarity, saw the feeling in the heart of things, walked out to the garden crying.
Saw the red blossoms in the night light, sun's gone, they had all grown, in a moment, and were waiting stopped in time for the day sun to come and give them...
Flowers which as in a dream at sunset I watered faithfully not knowing how much I loved them.
I am so lonely in my glory—except they too out there—I looked up—those red bush blossoms beckoning and peering in the window waiting in blind love, their leaves too have hope and are upturned top flat to the sky to receive—all creation open to receive—the flat earth itself.
The music descends, as does the tall bending stalk of the heavy blossom, because it has to, to stay alive, to continue to the last drop of joy.
The world knows the love that;s in its breast as in the flower, the suffering lonely world.
♥ I want people to bow as they see me and say he is gifted with poetry, he has seen the presence of the Creator.
And the Creator gave me a shot of his presence to gratify my wish, so as not to cheat me of my yearning for him.
~~from Transcription of Organ Music.
♥ Jack Kerouac sat beside me on a busted rusty iron pole, companion, we thought the same thoughts of the soul, bleak and blue and sad-eyed, surrounded by the gnarled steel roots of trees of machinery.
♥ Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower O my soul, I loved you then!
The grime was no man's grime but death and human locomotives,
all that dress of dust, that veil of darkened railroad skin, that smog of cheek, that eyelid of black mis'ry, that sooty hand or phallus or protuberance of artificial worse-than-dirt—industrial—modern—all that civilization spotting your crazy golden crown—
and those blear thoughts of death and dusty loveless eyes and ends and withered roots below, in the home-pile of sand and sawdust, rubber dollar bills, skin of machinery, the guts and innards of the weeping coughing car, the empty lonely tincans with their rusty tongues alack, what more could I name, the smoked ashes of some cock cigar, the cunts of wheelbarrows and the milky breasts of cars, wornout asses out of chairs & sphincters of dynamos—all these
entangled in your mummied roots—and you there standing before me in the sunset, all your glory in your form!
A perfect beauty of a sunflower!
♥ Poor dead flower? when did you forget you were a flower? when did you look at your skin and decide you were an impotent dirty old locomotive? the ghost of a locomotive? the specter and shade of a once powerful mad American locomotive?
You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a sunflower!
And you Locomotive, you are a locomotive, forget me not!
So I grabbed up the skeleton thick sunflower and stuck it at my side like a scepter,
and deliver my sermon to my soul, and Jack's soul too, and anyone who'll listen,
—We're not our skin of grime, we're not our dread bleak dusty imageless locomotive, we're all beautiful golden sunflowers inside, we're blessed by our own seed & golden hairy naked accomplishment-bodies growing into mad black formal sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by our eyes under the shadow of the mad locomotive riverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening sit-down vision.
~~from Sunflower Sutra.
♥ America when will we end the human war?
..America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?
America why are your libraries full of tears?
♥ America I used to be a communist when I was a kid I'm not sorry.
I smoke marijuana every chance I get.
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses in the closet.
When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid.
My mind is made up there's going to be trouble.
You should have seen me reading Marx.
♥ I'm addressing you.
Are you going to let your emotional life be run by Time Magazine?
I'm obsessed by Time Magazine.
I read it every week.
Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore.
I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library.
It's always telling me about responsibility. Business-men are serious. Movie producers are serious. Everyone's serious but me.
It occurs to me that I am America.
I am talking to myself again.
♥ I'd better consider my national resources.
My national resources consist of two joints of marijuana millions of genitals an unpublishable private literature that goes 1400 miles an hour and twenty-five-thousand mental institutions.
I say nothing about my prisons nor the millions of underprivileged who live in my flowerpots under the light of five hundred suns.
♥ The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia's power mad. Shew wants to take our cars from out our garages.
Her wants to grab Chicago. Her needs a Red Readers' Digest. Her wants our auto plants in Siberia. Him big bureaucracy stunning our fillingstations.
That no good. Ugh. Him make Indians learn read. Him need big black niggers. Hah. Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help.
America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?
♥ It's true I don't want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts factories, I'm nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
America I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.
♥ ..staring through my eyeglasses I realized shuddering these thoughts were not eternity, nor the poverty if our lives, irritable baggage clerks,
nor the millions of weeping relatives surrounding the buses waving goodbye,
nor other millions of the poor rushing around from city to city to see their loved ones,
..nor this trembling old lady with a cane taking the last trip of her life,
nor the red-capped cynical porter collecting his quarters and smiling over the smashed baggage,
nor me looking around at the horrible dream
..nor the grayish-green whale's stomach interior loft where we keep the baggage in hideous racks,
hundreds of suitcases full of tragedy rocking back and forth waiting to be opened,
nor the baggage that's lost nor damaged handles, nameplates vanished, busted wires & broken ropes, whole trunks exploding on the concrete floor,
nor seabags emptied into the night in the final warehouse.
♥ ..it was the racks and these on the racks I saw naked in electric light the night before I quit,
the racks were created to hang our possessions, to keep us together, a temporary shift in space,
God's only way of building the rickety structure of Time,
to hold the bags to send on the roads, to carry our luggage from place to place
looking for a bus to ride us back home to Eternity where the heart was left and farewell tears began.
♥ The wage they pay is is too low to live on. Tragedy reduced to numbers.
This for the poor shepherds. I am a communist.
~~from In the Baggage Room at Greyhound.
♥ O dear sweet rosy unattainable desire
...how sad, no way to change the mad
cultivated asphodel, the visible reality...
and skin's appalling petals—how inspired
to be so lying in the living room drunk naked
and dreaming, in the absence of electricity...
..my only rose tonite's the treat of my own nudity.
~~from An Asphodel.
♥ The weight of the world is love.
Under the burden of solitude,
under the burden of dissatisfaction
the weight we carry is love.
Who can deny?
In dreams it touched the body,
in thought constructs a miracle.
in imagination anguishes till born
looks out of the heart burning with purity—
for the burden of life is love,
but we carry the weight wearily,
and so must rest
in the arms of love at last,
must rest in the arms of love.
No rest without love,
no sleep without dreams
be mad or chill
obsessed with angels or machines,
the final wish is love
—cannot be bitter, cannot deny,
cannot without if denied:
the weight is too heavy
for no return as thought is given
in solitude in all the excellence of its excess.
The warm bodies shine together in the darkness,
the hand moves to the center of the flesh,
the skin trembles in happiness
and the soul comes joyful to the eye—
that's what I wanted,
I always wanted,
to return to the body
where I was born.
♥ ..so lonely growing up
among the imaginary automobiles
and dead soul of Tarrytown
to create out of his own imagination
the beauty of his wild forebears—a mythology
he cannot inherit.
Will he later hallucinate his gods? Waking among mysteries with an insane gleam of recollection?
something so rare in his soul, met only in dreams
—nostalgias of another life.
A question of the soul.
And the injured losing their injury in their innocence
—a cock, a cross, an excellence of love.
~~from Wild Orphan