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"howl" by Allen Ginsberg

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"Howl" by Allen Ginsberg

There is so much that can be written about "Howl" by Allen Ginsberg. Most critics state that

"Howl" is shocking, desperate and painful, but what sums his work up best is that we are driven

Insane by the inability to conform and be normal. Ginsberg was institutionalized and under the

Influence of drugs at times. In the first part of the poem he states "Who are expelled from the

academy for crazy and publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull"(2576). Part one

shows the desperation and longing felt by those who desired escape from oppression "Who cut

there wrists three times successfully unsuccessfully gave up and were forced....to grow old and

cry . Ginsberg was under the influence of peyote in part two and is trying to find the cause of our

suffering. Moloch "The fire god" is used as a symbol for industry and materialism from "Moloch

whose soul is electricity and banks....whose breast is a cannibal dynamo" (2581,2582). There

were children sacrificed to Moloch for greed and power, just as we sacrifice things such as time

to make more money, which is never enough. As we take a look at part three it seeks a balance

and resolve that life is painful and unfair, but is worth the fight "Where we hug and kiss the

united states under our bed sheets the united states that coughs all night and won't let us

sleep....Oh starry spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is here" (2583). In this poem

Ginsberg makes many references to Carl Solomon whom he was institutionalized with " I am

with you in Rockland where we are great writers on the same dreadful typewriter" (2582). Much

more could be written about this poem, but the essence is that society and materialism can drive

you insane if one does not conform "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by

madness".

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