Sunday, October 30, 2011


     This for me was a difficult poem to read.  I like the way that Ginsberg divided his writing into three different parts though.  I think that makes it a little easier to categorize and organize his thoughts.  Ginsberg's writing reminds me of Whitman in that it has a stream of consciousness feeling (especially part one).  The scenes that his writing paints are not ones that are particularly positive or nice.  They are blunt and harsh.  An example of this from part one is, "...who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall..."  I think Ginsberg paints these horrible scenes all throughout part one in order to show just how he feels about his society.  When Ginsberg looks at the people he comes into contact with, he sees things like shame, cowardliness, and "Terror."  My favorite part from section one was the commentary about time in his society and how it rules us as a people and culture- "...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.."  I really liked this part because I think it applies to our culture today.  Alarm clocks seem to rule our lives in Western culture.  We are governed by time and schedules and plans.  There is little room for spontaneity or adventure.  But do we as a people secretly want to be able to throw our watches off the roof and not be governed by other people's plans?
     Part two seemed to have a very different feeling than part one.  It still has lots of negative imagery but I read it to be more urgent than part one.  The frequent use of exclamation points contributes to this idea. The word "moloch" comes up again and again in this section and I think the meaning is very important.  Moloch here I think refers to a Canaanite idol to whom children were sacrificed.  Ginsberg in section two is emphasizing the destruction of the younger generation.  It is empty and "...whose love is endless oil and stone...whose soul is electricity and banks...whose poverty is the specter of genius...whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen...whose name is the Mind!"  It is evident through this writing that Ginsberg sees no warmth or human connection in the younger generation; he sees a generation that is after success and progression.
     Part three also reminded me of Whitman.  I think Ginsberg is trying to say that he is in a little bit of everything all around him.  He can understand and relate to many different types of situations.  I think possibly it is a commentary on the circle of life?  The negative imagery continues into part three and is a crucial part of the entire poem.  I think the negative imagery displayed throughout encompasses Ginsberg's feelings about the way he views society and the nonexistent hope he has for the future.


  1. This paper reminded me of Whitman as well in all 3 sections. I did notice all of the negative imagery in the first section. I did not like this poem and it was hard for me to read as well

  2. After class discussion on Monday-there are lots of references to drugs and psychiatry in this poem. Ginsberg makes it clear through many references in this poem that shock therapy is barbaric and torturous. This poem was published in 1956 which is important to note because it is a direct backlash against the 50s nuclear family idea and the suburbs lifestyle in general. Through this poem, one can see the hippie, non-conformist age emerging. In part 2, Ginsberg is asking his readers with the reference to Moloch, what are we sacrificing in order to be a part of society? What is this fiery god of industrialization asking from us? In the last stanza when the house in the west is mentioned, it reminded us of Huck Finn and suggested that in order to be true to yourself, one has to leave the society they find themselves trapped in and venture off on their own.

  3. I also found this to be an strang and unusual poem to read and comprehend. However, it was more easier to read an poem that has been divided into three parts, compared to reading an poem that is very long and not somewhat divided.