Allen Ginsberg started his infamous life as a revolutionary and poet of the beat generation when he began attending Colombia University. While at Colombia Ginsberg met friend and mentor Jack Kerouac whom he would later join to form the School of Disembodied Poets. During his education at Colombia University Ginsberg started his highly political and opinionated poems, which would become his signature for the beat generation. The poetry he produced would become the basis of protest and due to this and his strong political presence Ginsberg earned himself a spot on the FBIs dangerous list.
Ginsbergs poems were that of a revolutionary and showed his dislikes of American Society and the Injustices throughout America. Ginsbergs most recognized and an earliest poem was Howl and other poems written in 1956 (Ostriker 4). Howl being one of Ginsbergs most infamous poems has been translated to the T. In Alicia Ostrikers criticism of Howl she relates Ginsbergs Meloch in part two of Howl to many of the evils that befall this nation today (5). Ostriker states, Ginsbergs mind forged Meloch likewise as oppressiveness of a modern industrial and military state, excluded from reason.
Ginsbergs Meloch is also the modern version of Mammon, the capitalism of unobtainable dollars running money electricity and banks. (7). Howl records in veiled fashion, the humiliation and crippling of a population of immigrants to shores, which promised, hope and produced despair (3). In the poem Howls (1956) first lines, 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. (Ginsberg, Howl) Ginsberg is speaking of the destruction that drugs have caused in American Society and Americas addiction to drugs.
Ginsberg also describes the members of his community: Who distributed supercommunist pamphlets in Union Square and undressing while the sirens of Los Alomos wailed them down, and wailed down Wall, and the Staten Island Ferry also wailed, who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked and trembling before the machinery of other skeletons, Who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight in police cars for committing no crime but their own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication (Ginsberg, Howl)
In Levi Ashers review of Howl he describes these lines as Ginsbergs fellow travelers, the crazy, lonely members of his community of misunderstood poet artists, unpublished novelists, psychotics, radicals, pranksters, sexual deviants, and junkies (Asher 1). Ginsbergs more politically inspired poems include Hadda Be Playing on the JukeBox, America, and Industrial Waves. The Poem Hadda Be Playing on the Juke Box is bursting with politics, anger against the federal government, alliances America has, and the crimes against humanity it commits.
Ginsberg attacks the FBI and its head of operation J Edgar Hoover by describing the corruption within the FBI and its collaboration with the Mafia in the following lines: It had to be FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover and Frank Costello syndicate mouthpiece meeting in Central Park, New York weekends reported Time Magazine It had to be the FBI and organized crime working together In cahoots against the commies (Ginsberg, HBPOTJB. ) These lines show Ginsberg awareness of the mob and the FBI’ s friendly terms. Ginsberg is relating to the mobs black mail of Hoover and Hoover’s cross-dressing and homosexuality.
Ginsberg’s anger over the widespread corruption in America is seen in the following lines: It had to be the CIA and the Mafia and the Mafia and the FBI together They were bigger than Nixon And they were bigger than war It had to be Central Intelligence, the family, allofthis, the agency Mafia It had to be organized crime One big set of gangs working together in cahoots Hit-men Murders everywhere (Ginsberg, HBPOTJB) Ginsberg shows his dislikes towards the capitalist economy and relates his dislikes and the injustices in America to capitalism in these words.
Multinational Capitalists Strong-armed squads Private Detective Agencies for the rich And their armies and navies and their air force bombing planes It had to be capitalism the vortex of this rage This competition man to man (Ginsberg, HBPOTJB) Critic Helen Vendler says these lines summed up the poems rage towards capitalism and capitalisms imperialistic shadow that lurks behind it (Vendler 3). These last lines of the poem finish: Brute force and full money Brute force, world-wide, and full of money Brute force, world-wide, and full of money
Brute force, world-wide, and full of money It had to be rich and it had to be powerful (Ginsberg, HBPOTJB) In Helen Vendlers criticism of the poem she stated that this was Ginsbergs view of America at the time, brutal, imperialistic, and full of itself and money (Vendler 6). In Ginsbergs politically inspired poem America Ginsberg struggles with his dislikes, grievances, and hopes of and for America.
In Ginsbergs America (1956) he discusses some of his grievances: America when will we end the human war? Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb America why are your libraries full of tears? I am sick of your insane demands America I used to be a Communist when I was a kid and Im not sorry America Free Tom Mooney America save the Spanish Loyalists America Saccco & Vanzetti must not die America I am the Scottsboro boys (Ginsberg, America) Ginsberg questions some Americas past and present policies dealing with Communist countries in the following lines: America you dont really want to go to war America its them bad Russians and them Chinamen And them Russians
The Russia wants to eat us alive The Russias power mad She wants to take our cars from out our garages Her wants to grab Chicago Her needs a Red Readers Digest her wants our auto plants in Siberia Him big bureaucracy running our filling stations That no good. Ugh. Him makes Indians learn read. Him need big black niggers. Hah. Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help America this is quite serious America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set America is this correct? (Ginsberg, America)
Throughout these long stanzas Ginsberg is reflecting on Americas foolish reactions to Communist Russia referred to as her and America as him. Ginsberg is comparing the two nations and the crimes they commit against their people. In reality during the time the poem was written America was starting the Cold War with Russia. The two nations dislike each other and constantly refer to the treatment of the other countrys people as brute. Though when you look at Ginsbergs poem and the policies he refers to the reader can see that both nations have their ills.
Ginsberg was devoting much of his time to challenging government issues of privacy and personal freedom. Including sexual preference-and arousing his fellow writers to campaign for freedom of expression while earning himself a spot on the FBIs potentially dangerous and subversive list (Mitgang 1). When Ginsberg was commenting on the FBIs activities in the literary political arena, Ginsberg said, Why did the FBI lay off the Mafia and instead bust the alternative media, scapegoating Leroi Jones, ganging up on Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden, Martin Luther King, Jr. antiwar hero David Dellinger, even putting me on a Dangerous Subversive Internal Security list in 1965 the same year I was kicked out of Havana and Prague for talking and chanting to the Communist police? The fox condemns the trap, not himself, as Blake wrote in Proverbs in Hell (Mitgang 1). During the first term of the Reagan administration, a list of eighty for people deemed unsuitable as government paid speakers abroad was prepared by the United States Information Agency. Among the names was Allen Ginsberg, poet (Mitgang 1).
In one of Ginsbergs more recent poems, Industrial Waves, Ginsberg is unstoppable when it comes to defying the authorities with verse that outrages: Free computerized National Police! /Everybody got identity cards? At ease! / Freedom for Big Business to eat up the sea/ Freedom for Exxon to examine your pee! (Ginsberg, Industrial Waves) Once again Ginsberg is questioning the Federal Government and their secret police with their black list making a note of any in opposition. He also cites the mass Business control in the capitalist economy the pull in congress that a business like Exxon has over the common people.
Through Ginsbergs poems and lectures he gained much attention and followers of the beat generation. Ginsbergs poems were the chants of the disembodied poets and rebellious students around the country. He started the beat generation with his friends and took Americas youth and the publics attention towards the problems that befall the nation in the past and in the present. Allen Ginsbergs poetry was angry and spoke in the language of the streets about sex, drugs, radical politics, injustice and all the things that many considered forbidden and outrageous during the 1950s and still today (name-dropping).