31 The Life and Selected Poems of Allen Ginsberg

Sulakshana Biswas

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This paper intends to ventilate upon the life and works of Allen Ginsberg, one of the harbingers of the Beat Generation in the 1950s, America, who went on to become one of the most celebrated poets in the world, influencing many generations of poets to come. It is perhaps difficult to identify what was more intriguing and interesting- Ginsberg’s life or his poetry- as both were mutually inclusive in shaping each other, and the time of the then contemporary, post-World War II scenario. The paper reflects upon his epic poem Howl, Kaddish for Naomi Ginsberg-his deceased mother, and some other poems that positioned him in a pivotal role to inspire and practice the counter-culture movement in the 1960s. Born a Jewish, a practicing Buddhist and a disciple of Krishnaic Vaishnavism- Ginsberg was an unorthodox Communist as well. Like his life, his works were as versatile thematically, and an influence of his multi-disciplinary interests. A strong advocate for sexual liberation, anti- capitalist and anti-militarist ideologies, Allen Ginsberg in his works painted the world in his work, voicing the concern to do away with Fascist watch-dogs not only in the socio-political scenario, but the very structure of poetry- by radical use of pyrotechnic verse using the parataxis style, prevalent in the works of Walt Whitman, Federico Garcia Lorca, Samuel Beckett, and his contemporaries of the Beat Generation like Herbert Huncke and William S. Burroughs. Ginsberg coined the term “A New Vision” inspired by W. B. Yeats’s “AVision”, after a discussion with Lucien Carr while in Columbia University, so as to shape the works of the movement, where he declares the radical proposition of the Beat Generation authors- “it  is our duty to break the law”.

Introduction to the Beat Generation:

Nobody knows whether we were catalysts or invented something,

or just the froth riding on a wave of its own.

We were all three, I suppose.

-Allen Ginsberg

The Beat Generation movement originated in the 1950s America where a group of young writers were documenting, commenting and reflecting upon the observations of  contemporary post World War II society and culture, which later yielded to play a pivotal role in shaping the transformational counter-culture wave that swept across America in the following decade. Jack Kerouac, one of the authors initiating the movement came up with the term “Beat Generation”, following a conversation with Herbert Huncke, a writer and a small- time street-hustler, who went on to become one of the greatest influences on the movement. The word “beat” has been frequently in use in Afro-American colloquialism and referred to a beaten down or tired situation, something that mirrored the post-world war cynicism that was also inspiring a new kind of Conservatism not only politically, but also socio-culturally. The most popular works that defined the style and ideology of the movement were Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, William S. Burroughs’s Naked Lunch and Junky, and Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. These works echoed the epoch of the “Beat” culture- rejection of conventional structures, anti-militarism, sexual exploration and freedom, and against the fascist regimentation of expression and society. Inspired from W. B. Yeats’s A Vision, they coined the term “A New Vision” that would be the prism through which they saw and depicted the world around them. Other major influences on the Beat literature was the poetry of Walt Whitman, the Romanticism in the works of P.B Shelley and William Blake, French Surrealists Antonin Artaud and André Breton, Arthur Rimbaud and the American modernists- Louis Ferdinand- Céline, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams. Ginsberg also acknowledged the poetry of Emily Dickinson as a major influence on his work. William S. Burroughs cited the novel You Can’t Win by Jack Black, who inspired his writing. Other influences on this movement were the works of Samuel Beckett and Federico Garcia Lorca- Ginsberg even annotates Lorca in his poem A Supermarket in California. Later in the decade- most people involved with the Beat movement would join the San Francisco Renaissance which would give the world the “New American Poetry”. Jack Kerouac wrote the play, Beat Generation, which went on to be roughly adapted in Kerouac’s film, Pull My Daisy, named after the poem written by Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, and Kerouac in which Allen Ginsberg acted and improvised narration. Other noted personalities associated with the movement were, Neal Cassady, Gregory Corso, Bob Kauffman, Hal Chase, Peter Orlovsky, Edie Parker, Carolyn Cassady, Joyce Johnson, Elisa Nada Cowen, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and filmmaker Ruth Weiss, among others. This movement is generally attributed to Ginsberg and his associates. Allen Ginsberg and American poet Anna Waldman established the Naropa Institute’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodies Poets in 1974.

Did you know?

  • Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs’s novel, And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks was based upon Lucien Carr’s killing of David Kammerer, who was obsessed with Carr.
  • Kerouac and Burroughs were also arrested as accessories to the murder as Carr went to them after the incident seeking help.
  • The novel was written in 1948 but was published in 2008.
  • Another account of the same incident was handed over by Ginsberg as his paper in the Colombia University, but was told to retract following the scandal of Carr’s arrest.
  • The 2013 film Kill your Darlings by John Krokidas reflects upon this event.

Life and Works of Allen Ginsberg:


Irwin Allen Ginsberg was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1926 and grew up in Paterson in a Jewish home. His father was the poet and school teacher Louis Ginsberg and his mother Naomi Ginsberg was an active member of the Communist party, who used to take Ginsberg to the party meetings when he was young. Ginsberg once described his parents as “old fashioned delicatessen philosophers” and that he “grew suspicious of both sides”, what with Naomi hallucinating about President Roosevelt wiring her room with sound-bugs and Louis reciting Emily Dickinson and cursing T. S. Elliot under his breath for the latter’s use of obscurantism in poetry.

While Ginsberg was studying in the Montclair State College, he received a scholarship from the Young Men’s Hebrew Association to study in Columbia University where he met Lucien Carr, a senior who introduced him to William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and John Clellon Holmes. Lucien Carr also introduced Ginsberg to Neal Cassady and Kerouac used to refer to them as the dark and light side of the “New Vision” respectively. Kerouac even named the character based on Ginsberg as Carlo Marx, although he was never a card-bearer of the Communist party. In New York’s Pony Stable Bar, Ginsberg came into contact with Gregory Corso, and collaborated with him many times. Ginsberg introduced Corso to Burroughs and they would start travelling together.


Following this period, Ginsberg moved to San Francisco, where working as a market researcher, his first anthology Howl and Other Poems was published in 1956, which he first dedicated to Lucien Carr, but following his request to remove his name from all further publications, he dedicated it to Carl Solomon, whom he met in a mental reformatory institution and became life-long friends until Solomon’s death in 1993. Solomon also helped Burroughs publish his first novel, Junky. Ginsberg’s mentor William Carlos William introduced his to the San Francisco Renaissance authors Kenneth Rexroth, James Broughton, Madeline Gleeson, Robert Duncan, Gary Snyder and then founded the Beatitude poetry magazine. This was the time Ginsberg met Peter Orlovsky with whom he fell in love and they remained together until Ginsberg’s death in 1997. Orlovsky and Ginsberg left San Francisco in 1957 and travelled to Morocco for a short span of time before accepting Corso’s invitation to Paris where they stayed in a shabby lodging above the bar at 9 rue Gît-le-Coeur, which was later named the Beat Hotel. It was here that Ginsberg started writing Kaddish for Naomi Ginsberg, his deceased mother and Burroughs finished writing Naked Lunch- two seminal works of the Beat period.


In 1965, he moved to London and gave free readings of his works, which followed his participation in the International Poetry Convention, where he recited his works along with friend Gregory Corso. Ginsberg next worked closely in collaboration with the counter-culture movement and participated in the 1967, Human Be-In at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, he demonstrated the concerns of the Hippie movement along with fellow Hippies Michael Bowen, Lou Reed and Edie Sedgwick. Ginsberg also travelled to Varanasi and Calcutta with Gary Snyder and Peter Orlovsky, where he befriended Bengali poets- Sunil Gangopadhyay, Shakti Chattopadhyay and Malay Roy Chowdhury, and took interest in the Hungry Generation literary movement in Bengal, that influenced his September on Jessore Road.


Ginsberg collaborated with The Beatles’ member Sir Paul McCartney and recorded Ballad of the Skeletons, where the latter played the guitar.


Allen Ginsberg’s The Fall of America shared the National Book Award for poetry in America in 1974. He was inducted into the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters after receiving the National Arts Club gold medal in 1979. He received the Robert Frost Medal and at the Struga Poetry Evenings, he won the Golden Wreath in 1986. Ginsberg was awarded the medal of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Letters in 1993, by the French Government.

Did you know?

  • Allen Ginsberg founded the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poets with Anne Waldman as a part of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s 100 year old experiment.
  • Ginsberg accidentally met Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche in New York for the first time, while calling for the same cab.


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 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 academics 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 endless balls,

-excerpt from Howl, Part I

William Carlos Williams, mentor of Allen Ginsberg, wrote in response to Howl when it was published, in the introduction of the anthology, Howl and Other Poems, 1956-


“It is the belief in the art of poetry that has gone hand in hand with this man into his Golgotha, from that charnel house, similar in every way, to that of the Jews in the past war. But this is in our own country, our fondest purlieus. We are blind and live our blind lives out in blindness. Poets are damned but they are not blind, they see with the eyes of the angels.


This poet sees through and all around the horrors he partakes of in the very intimate details of his poem. He avoids nothing but experiences it to the hilt. He contains it. Claims it as his own-and, we believe, laughs at it and has the time and affrontery to love a fellow of his choice and record that love in a well-made poem. Hold back the edges of your gowns, Ladies, we are going through hell”.


The poem Howl is written in epic, free verse form, inspired by Walt Whitman’s use of the same, and is divided into three parts. The first part lays the setting for which Howl was written, frequently annotating other members of the Beat Generation, such as Kerouac, Cassady, Burroughs, himself and Carl Solomon. The third part specifically is an ode to Carl Solomon and their days in the Columbia Presbyterian Psychological Institute. The second part, added later on the request of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Howl’s publisher from City Lights Bookstore, along with the Footnote to Howl and other popular poems of Ginsberg- A Supermarket in California, America, Sunflower Sutra among others – it was collectively published as an anthology, Howl and Other Poems.

Part I:


Allen Ginsberg represents the dystopic youth of the post-World War McCarthy era where the products of American imperialist and capitalistic practices rendered the citizens inert, opiated with the great American dream, and how those who dared to defy that structure, were social outcasts- radicals, poets, anarchists, junkies, jazz musicians, mental reformatory patients.


Ginsberg chose to champion the latter mass, also annotating his acquaintances and friends as the characters representing his chant for a generation to wake up from the great American dream and see that the war was at home. Instead of depicting an incandescent image of the country, he chose to take to the streets, painting the world he was surrounded with- poverty, war-hysteria, loneliness, depression, regimented speech and expression and depicted it in the lights of the Harlem slums, the Jazz scene in Queens, and the new breed of revolutionary writers, who like the harbingers of any other movement, sought to change the world and it’s injustices. Ginsberg grew as a representative of all these people, these people became a representative of Ginsberg. The first part is largely biographical, with references to real incidents in Ginsberg’s life and the lives of others he had been witness too. He speaks about numerous references to his varied interests in Eastern religions, the then Moroccan inhabitant- Burroughs, undergoing withdrawal syndromes after ditching cocaine, Lucien Carr’s plight as he really charred papers relating to his mental health along with a twenty dollar bill. He refers to Kerouac and himself, declaring them as the poles of Canada and Paterson, he talks about his discussion with Kerouac about Philip Lamentia’s celestial trip post-reading the Holy Quran, Ginsberg’s “Blake vision” following his consumption of Benzedrine, he speaks explicitly about his homosexual encounters, he champions the sexually extrovert Neal Cassady as a hero of Denver, specializing in stealing cars as well, he speaks about cultural amnesia in the masses, their cynicism at the contemporary period that culminated into paranoia and madness- more specifically he talks about his mother and Carl Solomon. He speaks of Carl Solomon’s infamous yet legendary foray into a seminar on Dadaism where he threw potato salad on the walls, he sighs about the “angel-headed hipsters”- a direct relation to Lorca’s portrayal of America in Poet in New York- where Lorca, and as Ginsberg takes after him and his Surrealist forays and talks about the painted, poverty- stricken, mal-nutritioned bodies that were for sale and consumption in the streets of the New York metropolis, as Lorca said- “with coins in their bellies”. Ginsberg does not paint New York as the glittering metropolis- instead he takes us through dingy lanes, old-houses doubling as cold-water flats, and the populace he talks about is “beat”, tired, and disillusioned with America’s idea of progress. Ginsberg writes about the dreams and their subsequent disappointment. He champions, Jazz as a free-flowing art form, that doesn’t conform to any given structure, much like his own free-flowing, pyrotechnic verse in Howl. Ginsberg champions narcotic opiation as a gateway to resurrection as opposed to the capitalist opiation of the carrot-and-stick policy on which the world was rotating. Ginsberg called the first part of Howl as “a lament for the Lamb in America with instances of remarkable lamb-like youths”.


Part II:


In the second part Ginsberg refers repeatedly to Moloch, an ancient Ammonite God to whom sacrifices of children were offered. Moloch became the allegory of America that practiced war-mongering and thus subsequently celebrated the organized butchery of boys as victory, and the unbloomed youth rotting away in the trenches- compelled to fight and die for America in her wars. Moloch, a demonic bull, worshipped by the Canaanites, featured in the Book of Leviticus, bears resemblance to German Expressionist filmmaker Fritz Lang’s Metropolis- which Ginsberg annotates- as the bull of the Wall Street, where he describes the Moloch who has “bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination”.

Ginsberg writes-

Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable

dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys

sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks!

Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the loveless!

Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy judger of men!

Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the crossbone

soulless jailhouse and Congress of sorrows! Moloch

whose buildings are judgment! Moloch the vast stone of

war! Moloch the stunned governments!

Ginsberg calls the agenda of the Moloch in his poem as a “whole boat-load of sensitive bullshit”, and that America’s fascination with bourgeois sentiments, values, structures and politics has led the nation to a state of absolution- and that it requires rejection of the old to construct the new, that is bereft of Moloch’s cannibalistic endeavors to silence the voice of the Others. Ginsberg reflected upon the characters mentioned in the first part, all subject to sacrifice to the demonic monster, Moloch who protected the bourgeois interests of “Robot apartment! invisible suburbs! skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic industries! spectral nations! invincible mad houses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs!”. He accuses Moloch of singularly of “Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies! gone down the American river!”, as the world Ginsberg saw was devoid of anything out of the convention- and even if it were, the Others were left to be invisible, inaudible and insane. Ginsberg writes about using the word “Moloch” as a base repetition, like an anaphora- “Here the long line is used as a stanza form broken into exclamatory units punctuated by a base repetition, Moloch”.

Part III:


The cynicism in the second part transforms to optimism when Ginsberg talks about Carl Solomon and their time together in the Columbia Presbyterian Psychological Institute, which the former refers to as “Rockland”. He champions Carl Solomon as one of the many sacrifices that the Moloch has demanded, in the previous stanzas, and that Carl Solomon emerges as an unbent winner, even if he was being subjected to emotional and intellectual tribulations in the confines of the psychiatric hospital. For Ginsberg and Solomon, it somehow became an ideal foundation for their observations of the modern malaise of despair, paranoia and other psychological aberrations that appeared more interesting than the consumerist glossiness of the city outside, although the city was crumbling within. Ginsberg mocks with homosexual overtones, the country that has driven the best minds to despair, in order to quench its thirst for bloodshed and imperialistic forces-

I’m with you in Rockland

where we hug and kiss the United States under our

bedsheets the United States that coughs all night and

won’t let us sleep

I’m with you in Rockland

where we wake up electrified out of the coma by our

own souls’ airplanes roaring over the roof they’ve come

to drop angelic bombs the hospital illuminates itself

imaginary walls collapse  O skinny legions run outside

O starry-spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is

here O victory forget your underwear we’re free

Footnote to Howl:


According to Ginsberg, the footnote was an extra variation to the second part of the poem. His singularly chants “Holy” as a mantra to declare and exclaim all subversions mentioned in his poem as holy. According to him, it was intended to champion the multiplicity of voices that was being silenced if they did not conform to the conventional. Ginsberg declares-

Holy Peter holy Allen holy Solomon holy Lucien holy Kerouac

holy Huncke holy Burroughs holy Cassady holy the

unknown buggered and suffering beggars holy the hideous

human angels!

Did you know?

  • Howl was first read by Ginsberg in the Six Gallery in San Francisco in October 7, 1955
  • Howl was subjected to an obscenity trial after it was published in 1956. California State Superior Court Judge Clayton Horn ruled out all obscenity allegation as he declared- A work may be deemed obscene only if it intends to deprave or corrupt readers by exciting lascivious thoughts or inciting to immoral actions and there is no obscenity in a work which has ‘redeeming social importance’.
  • Howl was first dedicated to Lucien Carr, but on his request the dedication was removed from all further editions.
  • In the original dedication to the anthology Howl and Other Poems, Ginsberg dedicates it to Kerouac, Burruoghs, and Cassady as well- and he refers to their writings as- “All these books are published in Heaven”.
  • Howl was published as a graphic novel in 2010, with illustrations by Eric Drooker.
  • Howl(2010) by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, was a film based on Ginsberg’s reading of the poem in the Six Gallery and the obscenity trial that followed its



Also known as Kaddish for Naomi Ginsberg, Ginsberg writes an ode to his deceased mother. A Kaddish is generally referred to a Jewish prayer song to invoke the Almighty. Ginsberg describes his mother as-

O Russian faced, woman on the grass, your long black

hair is crowned with flowers, the mandolin is on your knees-

Communist beauty, sit here married in the summer

among daisies, promised happiness at hand-

holy mother, now you smile on your love, your world is

born anew, children run naked in the field spotted with dandelions,

they eat in the plum tree grove at the end of the meadow

and find a cabin where a white-haired negro teaches the

mystery of his rainbarrel-

blessed daughter come to America, I long to hear your

voice again, remembering your mother’s music, in the Song of

the Natural front-

O glorious muse that bore me from the womb, gave suck

first mystic life & taught me talk and music, from whose pained

head I first took Vision-

Tortured and beaten in the skull- What mad hallucinations

of the damned that drive me out of my own skull to

seek Eternity till I find Peace for Thee, O Poetry- and for

all humankind call on the Origin

Ginsberg started writing the poem in 1957 in the Parisian Beat Hotel, and it was finished in New York in 1959. It was published in 1961 as Kaddish and Other Poems. An absolute unorthodox way to compose a Kaddish and that too about one’s deceased mother- Ginsberg sought to adapt the underlying structure of Kaddish as a prayer- and the person he was writing about was his God in many ways. The language couldn’t have been different if the God was Naomi Ginsberg- who after her initial forays into Communism and the Communist party, was suffering from schizophrenic paranoia and persecution complex- complaining to the young Allen of her room being bugged by President Roosevelt because of her political ideologies. The poem revealed in the most organic manner, why was she godlike to Ginsberg- Ginsberg who was never fascinated with conventional heroes- sought to ventilate upon his mother, his god, through this poem. The poem also paints a very murky picture of the contemporary American socio-political scenario and how her mother reacted to it during her diagnosis with mental illness. A Kaddish is also a Judaic way of mourning, through hymns or chants- Ginsberg mourns not only the physical absence of his mother but also her uninhibited objectivity with which she always wanted to see the world. Ginsberg voices his alienation from the very umbilical tie not only to family but of the cultures and ideologies that he inherited from his mother.

The poem is written in five parts- after the second part ends, he writes a Hymn in praise of Naomi. The fifth part is abundant with the use of onomatopoeia to reflect upon the troubled psyche of Naomi, and ends as-


Lord Lord Lord caw caw caw Lord Lord Lord caw caw caw Lord

Did you know?


Naomi Ginsberg in last letter to Allen wrote, “The key is in the window, the key is in the sunlight at the window- I have the key- Get married Allen don’t take drugs- the key is in the bars, in the sunlight in the window.” – which Ginsberg even quotes in Kaddish, concluding the stanza as- “which is Naomi”.

Ginsberg, in the original dedication of Kaddish and Other Poems was for Peter Orlovsky. Ginsberg wrote-

Dedicated to Peter Orlovsky in Paradise

Taste my mouth in your ear’

Other Poems of Ginsberg:A Supermarket in California-


Written in Berkeley in 1955 and published in 1956 in the anthology, Howl and Other Poems, this poem was reflective of Ginsberg’s anti-capitalist stance and as well as his positioning of his favorite authors in different places in the consumerist American supermarket. He enquires of Walt Whitman and Federico Garcia Lorca- why were they conforming to convention, when they both like their admirer Ginsberg were anti- fascist individuals who openly declared and practiced their alternate sexualities.


Whitman and Lorca become the metaphor of every possibility in the socio-political axis of America, which withered if unconventional, or sought to shape itself in a way convenient for the conventional ideology. He enquires of Lorca- “and you, Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?”. The prose-form of the poem embarks on this imaginary rendezvous of the three, where they were shopping for images of contemporary America. He writes- “Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way does your beard point tonight? (I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel absurd.)”.

The Fall of America: Poems of These States (1965-71)-


Published in 1973, Ginsberg shared the annual U.S. National Book Award for Poetry in 1974. This anthology was a Bouquet of experiences of Ginsberg through travel, music, radio-news broadcasts and friends- it was considered to be a very optimistic prism through which Ginsberg saw the young America. Following his association with the Hippie culture of the 1960s, a lot of stylistic elements have been employed in depicting the poetic picture of contemporary America in the axis of the world and post-colonial nations. His September on Jessore Road was Ginsberg depiction of Bangladeshi refugees during the 1971 war between East and West Pakistan. This poem was written while he travelled to Calcutta(now Kolkata), India and saw the plight of poverty and helplessness of the war-migrants from Bangladesh who had come to seek refuge in Calcutta. Two poems, Elegy for Neal Cassady and On Neal’s Ashes were written for Neal Cassady, lamenting his untimely demise and championing him as a “tender spirit”. Other poems of this volume include- Beginning of a Poem of These States, Hum Bom! and Please Master.

Mescaline and Lysergic Acid-


Both poems were written in 1959 and echoed Ginsberg’s growing concern about an ageing, “Rotting Ginsberg”, who no longer bore the pulsating vibrancy of his younger avatar. In Mescaline, he enquires to know that after he fully decays, what awaited ahead, as he was worried, “What can I do to Heaven by pounding on Typewriter”. He refers to William Carlos Williams, who was living in Paterson with “death so much on him” and what would he do when the moment finally comes. Ginsberg enquires of Williams, if he wanted to have a re-birth just like him. Finally Ginsberg exclaims-


“No point writing when the spirit doth not lead”. In Lysergic Acid, Ginsberg follows the same concerns as Mescaline, voicing his paradoxical dilemma- Ginsberg writes initially- I allen Ginsberg a separate consciousness/ I who want to be God” and then again declares later in the poem, “Thank God I am not God! Thank God I am not God!”. Both poems, for the first time in Ginsberg’s work bore such evidence of self- introspection, fuelled by drug intake. It gives the complex yet diverse, murky yet colorful facets of Ginsberg’s psyche. Magic Psalm, The Reply and The End were similar in nature and Ginsberg admits that they portray visions he had after consuming the Amazonian drug Ayahuasca.

Did you know?


Most poems of The Fall of America were recorded on a Uher tape-recorder purchased by Ginsberg with Bob Dylan’s help.



A non-conformist and a social anarchist in life, Ginsberg’s works echoed the same with his fresh, fiery, uninhibited way of expression. An advocate of gay rights and associated with the NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association), the civil society movement against the Vietnam war along with the likes of Noam Chomsky, a marijuana-legalization activist- Ginsberg’s free speech reflected on every epoch of the issues he sympathized with. Ginsberg went on to become of the most influential poets of the 20th century and he engaged himself in multi-disciplinary activities, apart from writing- such as his singing performances, academics and practice of sub-altern religions and customs. Ironically after Naomi Ginsberg referred to the “sunlight” that Allen was supposed to be looking for, Ginsberg declared- “Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness”.

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