Howl, and Other Poems

Howl, and Other Poems

by Allen Ginsberg
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Howl, and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg

"Howl" is a poem written by Allen Ginsberg in 1955, published as part of his 1956 collection of poetry titled "Howl and Other Poems." Ginsberg began work on "Howl" as early as 1954. "Howl" is considered to be one of the great works of American literature. It came to be associated with the group of writers known as the Beat Generation, which included Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs. There is no foundation to the myth that "Howl" was written as a performance piece and later published by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti of City Lights Books. This myth was perpetuated by Ferlinghetti as part of the defense's case during the poem's obscenity trial, as detailed below. Upon the poem's release, Ferlinghetti and the bookstore's manager, Shigeyoshi Murao, were charged with disseminating obscene literature, and both were arrested. On October 3, 1957, Judge Clayton W. Horn ruled that the poem was not obscene. Poems include: Howl -- Footnote To Howl -- A Supermarket in California -- Transcription of Organ Music -- Sunflower Sutra -- America -- In the Baggage Room at Greyhound ; Earlier Poems: An Asphodel -- Song -- Wild Orphan -- In Back of the Real.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781614278191
Publisher: Martino Fine Books
Publication date: 06/04/2015
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 46
Sales rank: 737,082
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Allen Ginsberg is also the author of Howl and Other Poems, which was originally published by City Lights Books in the fall of 1956.

Read an Excerpt

Howl and Other Poems

By Allen Ginsberg City Lights Books

Copyright © 1996 Allen Ginsberg
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780872863101

Chapter One


For Carl Solomon

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,

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 bared 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 cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall,

who got busted in their pubic beards returning through Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,

who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their torsos night after night

with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and endlessballs,

incomparable blind streets of shuddering cloud and lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the motionless world of Time between,

Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops, storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brooklyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind,

who chained themselves to subways for the endless ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine until the noise of wheels and children brought them down shuddering mouth-wracked and battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance in the drear light of Zoo,

who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford's floated out and sat through the stale beer afternoon in desolate Fugazzi's, listening to the crack of doom on the hydrogen jukebox,

who talked continuously seventy hours from park to pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brooklyn Bridge,

a lost battalion of platonic conversationalists; jumping down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills off Empire State out of the moon,

yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars,

whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the Synagogue cast on the pavement,

who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic City Hall,

suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grindings and migraines of China under junk-withdrawal in Newark's bleak furnished room,

who wandered around and around at midnight in the railroad yard wondering where to go, and went, leaving no broken hearts,

who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing through snow toward lonesome farms in grandfather night,

who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telepathy and bop kabbalah because the cosmos instinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas,

who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking visionary indian angels who were visionary indian angels,

who thought they were only mad when Baltimore gleamed in supernatural ecstasy,

who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Oklahoma on the impulse of winter midnight street-light smalltown rain,

who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston seeking jazz or sex or soup, and followed the brilliant Spaniard to converse about America and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so took ship to Africa,

who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving behind nothing but the shadow of dungarees and the lava and ash of poetry scattered in fireplace Chicago,

who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the FBI in beards and shorts with big pacifist eyes sexy in their dark skin passing out incomprehensible leaflets,

who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism,

who distributed Supercommunist pamphlets in Union Square weeping and undressing while the sirens of Los Alamos 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 policecars for committing no crime but their own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication,

who howled on their knees in the subway and were dragged off the roof waving genitals and manuscripts,

who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy,

who blew and were blown by those human seraphim, the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean love,

who balled in the morning in the evenings in rosegardens and the grass of public parks and cemeteries scattering their semen freely to whomever come who may,

who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up with a sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath when the blond & naked angel came to pierce them with a sword,

who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden threads of the craftsman's loom,

who copulated ecstatic and insatiate with a bottle of beer a sweetheart a package of cigarettes a candle and fell off the bed, and continued along the floor and down the hall and ended fainting on the wall with a vision of ultimate cunt and come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness,

who sweetened the snatches of a million girls trembling in the sunset, and were red eyed in the morning but prepared to sweeten the snatch of the sunrise, flashing buttocks under barns and naked in the lake . . .


Excerpted from Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg Copyright © 1996 by Allen Ginsberg. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Howl, and Other Poems 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sure, 'Howl' is considered obscene and graphic, but hey: that's what life is. Allen Ginsberg has written the most HUMAN thing my tired eyes have read. People read it and think, 'ugh... this is all about homosexuals and drugs' but the truth is it's about a man who was loved and admired by another, and had finally gone mad. It's Ginsberg's frustration and bitterness that makes it so poignant. I read it before, and thought the same thing: 'it's about homosexuals and drugs' but I was reading beteween the lines: I wasn't digging what he was saying. Wouldn't you be a tad upset if your eccentric, but very close friend went too crazy? Yes you would. So all of you out there reading between the lines, stop whining and READ the poem.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the greatest works I've ever read. Bravo, Ginsberg, bravo. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Simply one of the best things ever written. :)
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good Book
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great window into the poet that Allen Ginsburg would become. A great addition for fans of modern poets from that era. I would also recommend his book Selected Poems from 1947-1993, as well as books by Jack Kerouac any of his poetry books or novels.
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Pandagirl_303 More than 1 year ago
A great book of poetry by a great poet. I've read it numerous times. You can read it just a little bit at at a time but it is better if you read the whole thing in one sitting. This made a great bus book and I will definenlty read it many times in the future.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This poem is still ahead of its time--much like the poetry of Walt Whitman. Ginsberg was THE poet of the 'beat' generation and this is one of the most powerful selection of words to ever grace the page. Ugly? You bet. Raw? That too, but it's also brilliant and moving. And prophetic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
So many inflamed cursings and spontaneity's just erupted out of my head after reading this--God forbid they might make good poetry mirroring the experiences of a generation? Does this 'gentlemen' claim to know anything about the Beat Generation, the philosophical impliments that surrounded it...Sounds to me like he's gotten it confused with flow poetry or something. Every poem by Jack Kerouac, Bill Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Neil Cassady, and the other spokees of that generation contains not only the sincerest and deepest devotion to self-introspection but a questioning in meaning that is inherently apparent upon reading deeper. It is painfully obvious how far the critiquer of the monumental work 'Howl' or even 'Kaddish' looked under it's skin. If shallow poetry is what he wants I highly recommend he read some of his own. Maybe he was just spitting out random words...
Guest More than 1 year ago
The first time I read this I couldn't sit still. I felt the intensity of the words as the pages flew by. Howl has so much energy every time I read it due in part to the restless style in which it is written. Ginsberg was the quintessential beat poet in his days. While the homosexual and drug -related overtones may be graphic at times, Howl is pure poetry all the way through. Go read Howl!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ginsberg, like all of the beat poets takes a hard look at society in the sixties and gives us an overview of the mania that it was. To accuse Ginsberg of not knowing poetry's history is a shocking misread. He acknowledges the poets of the past (mainly Blake), but realizes that they cannot fully describe the societal and political climate of their time. Ginsberg is a radical, and he gives a fresh spin to the creative aspect of poetry by using crisp, raw language. A definite must own!