personal favorites / poetry collections… Howl by Allen Ginsberg / poems & video

Allen Ginsberg



Both book and poem begin with some of the most brilliant and impacting lines in literature:

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
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating
          Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing
          obscene odes on the windows of the skull…


Ginsberg reads the poem “Howl” in its entirety:


Also from the collection:

“A Supermarket in California”

          What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for
I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache
self-conscious looking at the full moon.
          In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went
into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
          What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families
shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the
avocados, babies in the tomatoes!–and you, Garcia Lorca, what
were you doing down by the watermelons?

          I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber,
poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery
          I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the
pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
          I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans
following you, and followed in my imagination by the store
          We strode down the open corridors together in our
solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen
delicacy, and never passing the cashier.

          Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in
an hour. Which way does your beard point tonight?
          (I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the
supermarket and feel absurd.)
          Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The
trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we’ll both be

          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?
Berkeley, 1955


~ by samofthetenthousandthings on May 11, 2012.

4 Responses to “personal favorites / poetry collections… Howl by Allen Ginsberg / poems & video”

  1. And if you like Allen Ginsberg, there is the invaluable resource – the Allen Ginsberg blog (the Allen Ginsberg Project) – e.g. – comprehensive postings, links, (almost) daily updates

  2. Still one of my favorites. Holding in my hand “Planet News” #23 ($1.00) , “Kaddish” # 14 ($1.50) and “Back Roads to Far Places” (Ferlingettit ~ 75 cents) Crazy! I need to read all these again!

  3. sorry – I meant “Ferlingetti”

  4. “Ferlinghetti! ” Sheesh! Third time’s a charm. Sorry for the word clutter!

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