181 likes All Members Who Liked This Quote. Premium PDF Package. “Howl” arrests the reader’s attention in associating natural beauty with imagery wildly out of line with Romantic tradition. 35 Simon & Garfunkel, “Blessed,” track 3 on Sounds of Silence (Columbia Records, 1966); Ibid. Yet tied into this highly personal sensation of disjointedness there may also be a more general sense of the absurdity of the human condition, particularly our processes of thought — a uniquely flawed and incomplete method of computing the world — and arbitrary pursuits, illustrated here by Naomi’s upheaval to different homes. Hermann suggests that in Leaves of Grass, the “urge to unite with individuals of the same sex is a primal urge to unite with the Self within everyone,”34 so as in “Kaddish,” the act of gay sex is given a transcendent quality. McClure elaborates on the diversity of this poetic function as enabling “opening to the feeling of blood pulsing in the wrist, or the taste of a red-black cherry, or the sound of a rock being placed on a table.”15. Its title “Kaddish” refers to a Jewish prayer of mourning recited following the death of a parent, “one of the most sacred rituals observed by all Jews throughout the generations.”31 The overtly holy resonance of this term makes the poem’s explicit evocation of horrors ranging from mental illness to the degeneration of the human body, base physical functions such as excretion and the taboo subject of incest even more shocking. By Allen Ginsberg. Share this quote: Like Quote. Download Full PDF Package . Complementing the provocative content voiced in “Howl,” its long lines give the sense of a stream-of-consciousness-style explosion of self-expression which refuses to be curtailed, with anaphora employed throughout the poem like a subversive echo of religious mantra. PDF. Spirituality in Howl by Allen Ginsberg. That these icons of spiritual wisdom are placed beside a description of the “imagination” of poetic vision implies that equally valuable transcendent perspective can be gleaned from poetry. Allen Ginsberg was supportive to both Burroughs and his son throughout the long period of recovery. 14 McClure, Michael, Scratching the Beat Surface: Essays on New Vision from Blake to Kerouac (Middlesex: Penguin Books 1994), p.94. It may be in part owing to this sense of spatial paradox that a tone of confusion is seeded in the poem, a lively and playful energy sustained as we are accosted by the juxtaposition of the miraculous with repeated tethers to arbitrary realities which appear to frustrate this effect, leading the speaker to “feel absurd47 in entertaining notions of transcendence. Allen Ginsberg was an outspoken voice for human rights, Allen Ginsberg made big waves on the global stage from the 1960s until his death in 1997. The debate surrounding “Howl” 26 Bob Dylan, “Mr Tambourine Man,” track on Bringing it All Back Home (Columbia Records, 1965). Though able to acknowledge negative forces at play in society, Ginsberg overturns their power with the light of hope, setting him apart from bleaker voices of his era and movement such as Bukowski, whose comparable poetry touches similar themes to negative conclusion. 7-8. The format adopted in this section of “Kaddish” is replicated in the 1966 song “Blessed” by Simon & Garfunkel, which declares “blessed are the sat upon, spat upon” and later “blessed are the meth drinkers, pot sellers, illusion dwellers.”35 Whether or not this song is directly influenced by Ginsberg, it is further evidence for the point made in Chapter I which asserts the influence that the Beats’ inclusion of the downtrodden within their narrative of sanctity exerted on popular culture — not just in America but throughout the Western world — in ensuing years. This mounting intensity echoes the mood which evolves in the third section of “Howl,” in which the speaker reiterates his solidarity with the mentally ill Carl Solomon. Each brings out a slightly different side of Ginsberg’s poetic focus; “Sunflower Sutra,” for example, is an incredibly visual work, outwardly disdaining of mechanistic, soul-deadening forces within modernized American culture, implied through images like that of a “dread bleak dusty imageless locomotive,” and favouring the authentic. Its conflict relating to the theme of enlightenment and the poem’s capacity to deliver this is less war-like and more a teetering attempt to balance the playful discarding of cultural impositions with uncertainty about the future direction of literary discourse and developments in the broader trajectory of American culture. Arriving in New York City in 1944 to study at Columbia University, young Allen Ginsberg formed a close friendship with then-unknowns. This humanises his narrative by bringing back our focus to the concrete presence of spectators Allen and Jack, yet also alludes to the transcendent through communicating a sense of rapturous celebration of the process of sight, and human ability to not only be aware of our world, but to recognise and appreciate this awareness. Download Free PDF. Ginsberg, Allen, The Best Minds of My Generation: A Literary History of the Beats, ed. (ed. ; Ibid., p. 11. Interspersed with the incarnation of these “dank muck”4 images, a sense of beauty and life-energy blooms into being, with Eastern religious tropes invoked from the word “sutra” in the poem’s title. Its genre occupies a liminal space between the confessional and epic, and while Ginsberg echoes these styles, “Howl” is characteristically his own, stubbornly rebelling against past formal constraints. My overall aim is to reveal how spiritual conscience as portrayed in the poetry of Allen Ginsberg is far from stilted, flat or dogmatic, but spurns these qualities in favour of a complex, burning source of light, whose many facets prompt us to continue contemplating questions of spirituality and its place in the world around us instead of preaching doctrine to be blindly received. What we [the Beats] were proposing was some new sense of spiritual consciousness. Much of its continual relevance emerges in more recent critical discussions. Allen Ginsberg(3 June 1926 – 5 April 1997) Irwin Allen Ginsber was an American poet and one of the leading figures of the Beat Generation in the 1950s. Photo by © Allen Ginsberg/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images. That mainstream Western society has taken strides in developing more liberal and open-minded values than those of Ginsberg’s time of writing may render some of his work’s outspoken references to drugs, sex and other potentially blasphemous ideas such as the fusion of homoeroticism with spirituality less subversive now than they were to his contemporary readership. Unlike “Howl,” which draws from an intense, brazen and at times harrowing field of imagery, “A Supermarket in California” is more delicate in tone. Oldmeadow, Harry, “To a Buddhist Beat: Allen Ginsberg on Politics, Poetics and Spirituality,” Beyond the Divide, 2:1, (1999) La Trobe University Bendigo. At the same time, anaphoric repetition of “who” in the poem’s first section, “Moloch!” in Section II and “I’m with you” in Section III generates a mantra-like rhythm, intermingling a sense of mysticism with the flow of description. 51 Ibid., pp. The Ninth House is the sphere of high studies, both physical and mental journeys (philosophy, spirituality), rebelliousness, changes of scenery, desire for dealing with the unknown. Citing “Howl” as an example of free verse, Duncan writes: . But he was beyond that as well in imagination and spirituality. Akinchan Xaxa. In the poem’s conflict between light and darkness, lucidity and chaos, which gives it a fierce and at times unsettling energy, here emerges the triumph of stillness. Stilted by both internal pangs of trauma, and the mind-numbing stings of recalled electric shocks, this line packs the sense of its meaning being just beyond what is expressible through the speaker’s words. Contemporary poet Richard Eberhart commented that while he admired the poem’s rebellion against “everything in our society which kills the spirit” and how it “lays bare the nerves of suffering and spiritual struggle,” he also looked scornfully upon its “assuming that the louder you shout the more likely you are to be heard.”9 This is at the crux of the debate relating to the artistic worth of “Howl” which questions whether Ginsberg’s claims to its profundity, describing it as part of the Beats’ so-called New Vision, are justified or are sheer pretensions held up by a shabby scaffolding of shock-value only content. PDF. Nelson outlines the function of language as “a road map to the luminous in an era where the darkness appears overwhelming.”30 Nowhere is such an aim better executed than through the stellar project of “Howl,” whose guiding force towards luminosity makes it an ever-relevant piece in the quest for meaning that our human condition compels us to navigate. Ginsberg commented that “there’s a tendency to exaggerate the strangeness of the mind, and to over-stylize it, and over-rush it, […] rather than resting with it, or resting with what’s there.”57 He described paying close attention to one’s immediate surroundings as an antidote to the danger of overly self-involved writing. Stevens, Jay, Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream (London: Flamingo, 1993). dont follow my path. Watson, Steven, The Birth of the Beat Generation: Visionaries, Rebels and Hipsters 1944 – 1960 (New York: Pantheon, 1995). Though “the dress of dust”40 can blanket individual experience, the word “dress” bringing with it connotations of pretension or artificiality, it is posited that when united, humankind is not comprised of “smut and smog and smoke” but a pure, sacred essence permitting creative authenticity, unearthed throughout the poem’s progression. PDF. The Poetry Foundation, , [accessed Oct 2018 – March 2019]. 55 Ibid., p. 15. It is in analogy with Sagittarius and Jupiter. He rather aligns Ginsberg’s bold delving through the “teeth and excrement of this life,” and skill in translating his ventures into art, with warrior-like awesomeness. Rather, it can be achieved even from between its aisles if one knows where to look. Robyn Brentano, “Allen Ginsberg: Buddhism and the Beats,” online video recording, YouTube, (7 July 2017) [accessed 13 February 2019]. When speaking of “Howl,” Ginsberg commented on its form: “Ideally each line of “Howl” is a single breath unit. vii. One such hint of unresolved struggle occurs in “Sunflower Sutra,” when the speaker cries: “O my soul, I loved you then!” There is a duality in the tone of this line which seems to engender both grief and jubilation – the poem’s primary function being the latter, as it blooms like a phoenix from the ashes of industrial decay and presents the promise of life in what is at first glimpse a wasteland. In “Howl,” the vivid portrayal of minds “starving hysterical naked” and third section’s mantra-like exclamations of holiness infuse its mood of spiritual uprising with strength and even a sense of rage; in contrast, “A Supermarket in California” generates a tone of tentative questioning and is riven with ambiguities. With a keen passion for languages, Jess plans to resurrect her Arabic studies and explore more of the world (probably heading East) in newfound graduate freedom. San Cristóbal, María Margarita, “The Poem ‘A Supermarket in California’ Evidences how Self-identity is Commodified and Massified in Consumer Societies” (unpublished doctoral thesis, Universidad de Concepción, Chile 2009). Thu 8 Oct 2015 12.23 EDT. 59 Ibid., p. 2. Holy! The splendour of “inner moonlight” can shine only when social obligations, structures and rhythms have been stripped away, a revelation boldly put forward in “Howl” whose legacy cannot be underestimated. “Sunflower Sutra” 24 Ibid., p. 5.; Donne, John, “Batter My Heart”, [accessed 13 March 2019]; Ginsberg, Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems, p. 1. Allen Ginsberg byl homosexuál a se svou sexuální orientací se nejprve těžce vyrovnával. .” The author's sense of resentment toward nuclear testing and America’s bloody destruction of Hiroshima reveals his more liberal view of peace in the wake of war. Allen Ginsberg’s 1956 Poem “America”: a Lost Ending by Jonah Raskin. Lucy Jones. The Allen Ginsberg Project, [accessed 24 November 2018 – 14 March 2019]. Previous Next . Light is not only conveyed through metaphorical spiritual allusions; it is a visual presence across “Howl,” appearing imbued with varying degrees of sanctity. Secondary texts While confessionalism generally centres its attention within the private world of the speaker’s concerns, the sense of overflow in “Howl” pertains to a humanity-scale narrative of ecstatic spiritual revelation, situating the reader’s focus beyond personal anecdote. Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems was originally published by City Lights Books in the Fall of 1956. Later Ginsberg commented that actually he'd "meant spiritual nakedness" but had just sort of got carried away in the inspiration of the moment. He does not demonise his mother’s mental illness but touchingly sympathizes with the position as a social pariah that it pushes her into, due to his own experience of ostracized queerness. Akinchan Xaxa. On another level, “the heart” hints at the core or crux of something, such as the human experience, reinforcing love to be something that “we” rather than “I” bear the weight of. While nineteenth-century convention inhibited Whitman’s homoerotic allusions from being so overt as Ginsberg’s, his vision of spiritual fulfilment dwells in nature and employs sensual imagery, with homosexual desires often implied. The small designs of medications and libido function collectively to light up the main theme of spirituality. At the close of “Sunflower Sutra”, Ginsberg comments on how the scene is “spied on by our eyes,” drawing attention back to the significance of subjectivity and personal impression. While known for his Beat poetry, he was also indelibly shaped by leftist politics. Further links between poetic creation and sanctity are drawn in “Kaddish,” as the speaker urges “take this, this Psalm, from me, burst from my hand in a day.” That it is something to be handed over frames the poem within a context of transaction, yet the ordinary spiritually draining exchange of material items for money is inverted. PDF. You can go pretty much anywhere in America and start talking about meditation or Buddhism, or mind-body interactions, and there’s at least some vague grasp of what you’re talking … Lion’s Roar presents this exclusive autobiographical account from the late poet and cultural icon Allen Ginsberg, narrating his spiritual journey from Blake to the Buddha. This bears out near the start of “Kaddish” as Ginsberg evokes “prophesy as in the Hebrew Anthem, or the Buddhist Book of Answers — and my own imagination of a withered leaf,” suggesting that Jewish and Buddhist texts are interchangeable in value. . 56 Ibid., p. 30; Ibid., p. 31. Even as a sense of rapture is brought to fruition in Ginsberg’s poems, the shades of confusion they encounter while reaching for this dynamic elevation remain present to some extent beyond their closing lines. 60 Ibid., p. 24.; Ibid., p. 25. Rodosthenous claims that Rimbaud and Ginsberg share “an urgent need to run away from the system, flee the routine, engineer a strategy of escapism through art.”13. Holy! 33 Ginsberg, Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems, p. 57. Allen Ginsberg in his work Howl stated that “Who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit or Rocky Mount to tender Buddha” (18). Tempest, Kate, Hold Your Own, (London: Picador, 2014). Yet poetry’s ability to pay attention to the world in a manner which draws from it a previously unseen or unacknowledged quality long predates the advent of psychedelic substances like mescaline and LSD, usage of which influenced the Beat vision. Family Business: Selected Letters Between a Father and Son. Kerouac is recognized for his method of spontaneous prose. The legacy of Ginsbergian moonlight Beat Literature & the World, “A Comparison of Allen Ginsberg and Walt Whitman,” online blog posted by esprings, (7 November 2013) Primary texts We hope that these Daily Meditations, prayers and mindful awareness exercises can be part of bringing spirituality alive in your life. Allen Ginsberg Documentary Website-Visionary, radical, spiritual seeker, renowned beat poet, founding member of a major literary movement, champion of human rights, Buddhist, political activist and teacher—Allen Ginsberg’s remarkable life shaped the very soul of American counterculture. If “Howl” queers the horizon by acting as the ecstatic “scream” that Munoz outlines, “Kaddish” does so through its exercise in re-working “moments of contemplation,” revisiting the trauma of past scenes to permit their reconciliation. Hippie Seraphim: Spirituality, Sexuality and Nonconformity in Allen Ginsberg's Footnote to Howl. Time magazine) to wealth inequality and its denial by the government (“I say nothing about […] the millions of underprivileged who live in my flowerpots”). The Ginsberg of the Human Be-In in San Francisco’s 1967 Summer of Love showed up not only with the usual suspects of that period (like Tim Leary), but also with premier Zen master Suzuki Roshi. Such factors point towards any claims for enlightenment within the poem being wildly misplaced; hence “detractors go on insisting upon dishevelment, the upshot of a mind fatally shrill or divided.”8 The response to “Howl” amongst the poetic community of the time was ridden with ambivalence. While much of his poetry presents spirituality in fascinating ways, these two longer poems most clearly invite discussion due to their breadth of content. It is, however, the intermingling of these two conflicting sensations which gives “Howl” such a lingering power. The breakthrough of a sense of man’s innate sanctity, no matter how threatening or harsh his outward conditions, seems even more vital when procured in an ambit of darkness. For example, the 2010 critical text Beats, Outriders and Ethics posits: “six decades on, and even more than at first airing and publication, “Howl” refuses to be denied.”11 Rodosthenous attributes the poem’s persistence in public consciousness to “its honest and personal perspective on life, and its nearly journalistic, but still poetic, approach to depicting a world of madness, deprivation, insanity and jazz.”12 He compares “Howl” with “A Season in Hell,” written almost a century beforehand by Rimbaud, who strongly influenced Ginsberg. The sensitive essence that “Song” uncovers contrasts harsher notes which emerge across Ginsberg’s poetry, providing a perspective crucial to encompass within investigation of his spiritual project. Through using an utterance that is closer to essential sensation than descriptive words, Ginsberg intentionally casts this poem as a raw and carnal entity. Wikipedia article about Allen Ginsberg. The poem crafts an interplay between external light and the inner light of love, drive and creative inspiration: a glow of “internal lightning” which illuminates “brilliant eyes.”21 Communication and synergy between these two elements builds dazzling majesty and a sense of ecstasy. 45 Wills, David, “Whitman and the Beats,” Beatdom Vol. Holy! 44 Columbia University online, C250, “Allen Ginsberg” [accessed 20 March 2019]. This theme of being in dialogue with a broader literary trajectory also emerges in many of his other poems, such as the descriptions of ashes in conjunction with materialism in “Sunflower Sutra” which are reminiscent of Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic valley of ashes in The Great Gatsby, and references to Emily Dickinson in “Kaddish.” Though also commenting on consumer culture, as represented through the motif of the supermarket, “A Supermarket in California” has a playfulness to its imagery, conveying a less severe social critique than works like “Sunflower Sutra” or “Howl” which employ bleaker imagery. The avant-garde poet was an outstanding personality and possessed an unusual ability to affect people. Paradoxically, these flashes of recollection are elevated to the status of a “saxophone chorus of houses and years” — a musical image which carries with it beauty, and in the encompassing of “houses and years” pertains to the transcendent. Pramuk, Christopher, “Sexuality, Spirituality and the ‘Song of Songs,” America Vol. Using psychedelics and reading poetry are comparable experiences in that they both permit the ability to perceive ordinary reality through an alternative lens. Download with Google Download with Facebook. “A Supermarket in California” was supposedly composed following a psychedelic drug trip that Ginsberg took in a supermarket one night. The depiction of light as intricately linked with notions of personal identity and the victory of self-expression over systemic suppression which emerges in “Howl” also appears as a running theme through Ginsberg’s other works. While love is introduced as “the weight of the world,” there is an irony to this depiction; many of the poem’s other elements, such as the delicate brevity of its lines, its intermittent anaphoric playfulness, and images such as “the warm bodies/ shine together/ in the darkness,”56 convey the quality of lightness, which opposes love’s initial definition as “weight.” Up until its final stanza, the first person singular is avoided, another factor which distinguishes “Song” from many of Ginsberg’s poems, in which pronouns “I” or “me,” bringing with them a sense of the anecdotal and of personal emotional investment, tend to appear near the start of the poem, intermingling subjectivity with wider concerns. [accessed 21 December 2018]. This is a deeply unnerving realisation: a reality commonly obscured by social narratives for the sake of comfort and encouragement of subservience to the mythic constructs which underpin the functioning of Western civilisation. 48 Willis, “Whitman and the Beats,” p. 83. This “king kind light of mind”59 which flashes to the forefront across the darker themes raised in “Howl,” “Kaddish,” “Sunflower Sutra,” “A Supermarket in California” and “Song” is a signal of victory against all in the world which is contrived, prescribed and stifling: elements of our existence which mar the fulfilment of connecting with the higher self, in which state we are at our most authentic. Unlike within the consumerist structures of industrialized capitalism which permeate twentieth-century America, one is not required to pay in order to receive the object of the psalm; all we need to give back to the speaker is an openness of mind and willingness to read. He helped found a school of poetics and the Beat Generation literary movement of 20th century America. Abram, Dario, “Walt Whitman: Homoeroticism in Leaves of Grass,” American Literature 2012, Academia.edu . But I was definitely influenced by William Blake…. ; Ibid. If we are to accept Merton’s identification of “the fashion of Zen” as “a symptom of western man’s desperate need to recover spontaneity and depth in a world which his technological skill has made rigid, artificial and spiritually void,” then technological advancements seen since the publication of “Howl” heighten a need for recourse to its spiritual message. On `` Howl '' in 1954 considerable evocative nuance of this quote, please sign up is. Prophet for these voices, which had previously spent time in Kyoto to study at Columbia University, Allen... Are specific to his time, and addresses these themes metaphorically magazine that New. Of the Beats ] were proposing was some New sense of spiritual light –. 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