Essay on Allan Ginsberg’s poem Howl

Essay on Allan Ginsberg’s poem Howl

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Good art never dies, but rather lingers on in the minds of the society. Allan Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” has relevance many years after it was written. “Howl” is a poem, and a story about the history of the beat generation, and the philosophies of the beat poets. At the time that Howl was written America was in the middle of the cold war, and conservatism was the norm. The shocking nature and vulgar language of “Howl” makes the poem unique during a time when having your hair long, or even having a beard was risqué. Allan Ginsberg makes the reader think about their freedom and expression during the time when even the society is against them. By using his obscene, even by today’s standards, words he startles the read and gives them the branch to see that the world can be opened if they open their minds and go outside of the societal norms. The near-libertine, openly-homosexual, shocking, narrative-like poem plays a role in influencing our society’s, in general, more liberal philosophy on homosexuality, art, and artists. Themes on liberty and expression resonate even today after such a change in philosophy. Ginsberg’s writing of this historic poem gives a glance of his generation. This essay will seek to show in what ways “Howl” has influenced the current culture. Pursuant to this goal, the history of the contemporary society at the time of the writing of “Howl” will be analyzed. Then the structure of “Howl” will be reviewed for its artistic merit. Lastly, the contemporary view on “Howl” will be researched. “Howl” reaches society by both shocking, instructing, and by embracing the reader.
The time, during which Ginsberg wrote, was hard for a person like Alan Ginsberg: a homosexual poet. In “Prelude to a Poem: Ginsberg's Long path to ‘...

... middle of paper ... Ginsberg went through as homosexual man living in the 1950s. Being ostracized for something ridiculous, instead of an actual immoral action.

Works Cited

Jackson, Brian. "Modernist Looking: Surreal Impressions in the Poetry of Allen Ginsberg." Texas Studies in Literature and Language 52.3 (2010): 298-323. Project MUSE. Kansas University Libraries, Lawrence, KS. 29 Nov. 2010 .
Ginsberg, Alan. “Howl.” The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary poetry. 3rd ed. Vol. 1. Eds. Jahan Ramazani, Richard Ellmann, & Robert O’Clair. New York, NY: Norton, 2003.
Ginsberg, Allen, et al. "From "The Poem That Changed America: 'Howl' Fifty Years Later." American Poetry Review 35.2 (2006): 3-10. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 29 Nov. 2010.
Schumacher, Michael. “Prelude to a Poem: The Long Path to ‘Howl.’” Tricycle. 3. Spr. 2007. 96-103.

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