Sunday, January 22, 2012

How similar is this??

I loved Baudelaire's poem "To the Reader" a lot but especially because it reminded me of "Howl" by Allen Ginsberg. Don't know if yall have read it but it's the bomb. Allen Ginsberg was one of the beat poets circa middle 1950's early '60's. He wrote a lot about what was going on at the time, about the whole experience of poverty, art, jazz, homosexuality, and general cultural explosion that came from post-WWII life. The beats remind me a hell of a lot of the american ex patriot movement we learned about with Beckman with Hemingway, the Fitzgerald, and rampant prohibition. Anyways Howl is one of Ginsberg's most famous and maybe most infamous poems; it was controversial, it was raw, it offended censures etc. I have a special place in my heart for Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, I read them when I was a sophomore and the two of them completely rocked my way of thinking about writing.

Howl (for Carl Solomon) begins:

"I have seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, staving 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 barred their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,/
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,/
"who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded by orange crates of theology/..."
well the word/image combinations in this work just in some small ways reminded me of Baudelaire for instance "gangs of demons boozing on the brain" just reminded me insanely of Ginsberg's description of Moloch and maybe just the emotions of that line, maybe just the way it captures in a way the author's experience trying to make something real and meaningful out of these mingling feelings of despair and frustration. Big difference however: Ginsberg's poem ends with a powerful feeling of hope beyond hope - the footnote to Howl basically declares everything is holy, despite all that he's witnessed. Baudelaire's poem doesn't really end on such a resilient note.

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