Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ (Part 1).

I pretty much should hate this poem, but I do not. Guess Howl just has┬ásomething about it that forces me to forgive it, and Allen Ginsberg, the rest. That’s all right, though. Gotta have some contradictions in the soul, right?


  • Belcatar says:

    Well, I think I hate that poem enough for two people, so it all balances out.

  • Compound says:

    Howl always reminds me of this TMBG song, probably because of, well, it’s blatantly inspired by it.

  • Luke says:

    I don’t find it memorable enough to feel strongly about.
    (Shrug) I always figured the people who claimed to like him were doing so doing so to gain social cachet. (Kind of like all the people who looooove Whitman, but can’t quote more than a couple of lines.)

    • Belcatar says:

      Interesting that you mention Whitman. I’ve always thought that Howl is really “Song of Myself” filtered through Ginsberg’s brain.

      I hate “Song of Myself” too, mostly because Whitman beat that poor, dead horse until there was nothing left.

      I do like Whitman’s “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer”, though.

      • Moe_Lane says:

        I always liked O Captain! My Captain!, despite the best efforts of that one movie to make me hate it.

        • Luke says:

          I actually like a lot of Whitman’s stuff, I just kind of hate that he destroyed poetry as a formalized, structured endeavor. Free Verse can work, but most of time, it just doesn’t.
          Just because someone else can pull something off, doesn’t mean that you can.
          e.e. cummings could fit five different meanings into a couple of lines by playing with kerning, punctuation, and capitalization. But if you try to imitate him, you’ll just look like an a$$hat.

          • acat says:

            Shouldn’t teach people “free verse” *except* as “song lyrics” until *after* they master meter and lyrical patterns.
            By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
            By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
            Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
            Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
            Dark behind it rose the forest,
            Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
            Rose the firs with cones upon them;
            Bright before it beat the water,
            Beat the clear and sunny water,
            Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.
            Show me a kid who can do that and they *might* be ready to write poetry without bumpers.
            p.s. show me a kid who can reliably bowl 175 and I’ll show you a kid who’s ready to try without the gutter-bumpers …

        • AndaO says:

          I was helping at my local middle school during Milestone testing w/ a bunch of 8 or so opt outs. Everyone working on lessons. Two of them were supposed to be writing response sentences to O Captain!… and they had not been told that it was about Abraham Lincoln.

          I was sad.

          I did tell them and we read it out loud.

      • Brian Swisher says:

        Fun fact: the”learn’d astonomer” Whitman was referring to was Ormsby Mitchel, who later as a Civil War general conceived the idea of the Andrews Raid.

  • bensdad00 says:

    Any poet you learn about before his death isn’t any good. Any living poet who does anything other than drink yup his royalty checks is a poseur. Any poet – or any author really – who feels the need to pontificate on the meaning and importance of his own work obviously did a terrible job writing or the audience would have figured it out itself.

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