Howl, and Other Poems

Howl, and Other Poems

by Allen Ginsberg

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"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: 9781614278665
Publisher: Martino Fine Books
Publication date: 09/15/2015
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 44
Sales rank: 211,279
File size: 144 KB

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 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 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.
latefordinner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An American love poem, prayer and lament, as powerfull now as when it was written. Our children are still sacrificed to Moloch. The Machinery of Night is still in place digital, darker and more dangerous. Neil Cassidy's ghost walks along counting railroad ties in eternity, followed by Allen chanting and playing the harmonium. Jack stumbles along behind swigging on a bottle of cheap burgundy.
uh8myzen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This poem blew my mind and to this day, the opening lines of this poem are among my favorite in all of poetic cannon. Ginsberg was a poetic genius who like Kerouac, was among the great chroniclers of the beat generation.
kaionvin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Boo hoo the plight of myself and all my cool friends who are so brilliant here's some literary references so you know and disenfranchised and we take drugs and wander about and dammit we're iconoclasts and therefore don't have to write lines that actually sound good or end poems before we overstate our positions or anything because reading a poem should feel like being stuck at bus stop with *that* dude and so we Howl our dissatisfaction well at least as much as you can even after you become a classic.
ThatsFresh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was bought this book by my uncle as a gift while on a day trip to San Francisco thsi past spring. We visited the City Lights Bookstore and I was taught a little about the beat generation and all the radical poets coming to the bookstore to publish their works since at the time, no one else would've dared publish them. I read the book in one day, and even though I tried to read slowly and get in tune with the language, I found it hard. The book brought up people I didnt know and social ideas I dont know the history of.I didnt really enjoy this book, but I know it's because I know nothing of all the history behind it. I'd love to read up a bit more on all the subjects this book covers so that I can read it again in 5 or 10 years and read it with a better understanding.
guhlitz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this at a Borders in Mission Valley circa 2003 while drinking one of Border's fantastic lattes. I sat down in one of the cozy corners made available to the customers who choose to read a little before the purchase. Being that I was extremely familiar with Ginsberg at the time and heard much about the controversial poem, I was instantly headlong into the reading. Approximately forty pages in length, the continuity and stamina of the writing moves it along quite quickly. The colorization of the words and content were amazing, erotic, and often times bringing images of pain and anguish into the heart which desires. I didn't purchase the poem on this day andf walked out of the comfortable Borders that day feeling accomplished, with only a touch of shame.
seanj on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought it was cool and edgy when I was younger, but it doesn't do much for me anymore. I still like "Supermarket in California." And "Howl" is a great title.
abirdman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"I saw the best minds of my generation, destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical, naked" No more needs to be said. One poem that defined the fifties and sixties for many, including myself.
Evadare on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
To really, really, really get the impact of this, you need to find someone with a good voice and stage presence and mark off as much time as is necessary to perform it ALOUD.Poetry is actually the art form that straddles the line between literature and music, and no one embodied that fusion more purely than the Beats, and 'Howl' is probably the single best enactment of this principle. As an aural experience, 'Howl' is one of the greatest musical pieces I've ever known. Reading it silently on the page is like skimming a musical score without hearing it played.
ztutz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My college roommate's favorite poem - typically recited loudly when weaving home of a Saturday night. Still pithy, carefully crafted, and wonderful to speak aloud.
cinesnail88 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having loved Allen Ginsberg for as long as I have, I can't believe I put off reading Howl until now. Of course, it did help to be able to buy it directly from City Lights, but still, there's no excuse for how long this took me. Read it, love it, what else can I say?
whitewavedarling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The poems here are classics and wonderful reads, but this isn't the edition I'd recommend. Aside from being an awkward size that will easily get lost on your shelp (or even your desk), for someone who isn't familiar with Ginsberg's work, footnotes are nearly a necessity, and here you don't have them. This certainly isn't the most convenient copy of his poetry, but if you simply want the words and already have a loose background on him or the beats in general, this is all you need to feel the poems themselves, which are classic, threatening, and still powerful.
Jakeofalltrades on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book of poems they tried to ban, it's still a pleasure to read after all these years. The title poem, "Howl" is a massive hit to the senses, with both divine and earthly imagery that inspires. Other poems in the collection, such as "America" are a critique of consumer society, ahead of his time and still relevant in the 21st Century. A great introduction to Ginsberg's works even though the poet himself did not regard "Howl" as his best 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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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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