The Poem “Howl”

Allen Ginsberg’s purpose of Howl was “a tragic custard- pie full of wild phrases”(Jonsson, 5). According to Jonsson, The Poem “Howl” “exemplifies Ginsberg’s idea to write freely and spontaneously from the mind, a method that is called “stream of consciousness”(5).

A stream of consciousness is defined as “a continuous flow of thoughts, feelings, and impressions that makes up our inner thoughts”(Literary Encyclopedia, 1). A more concrete definition of a stream of consciousness found in the anthropology of short fiction is “a method of narration that is somewhat like a sililoquy in drama, an attempt to duplicate raw sensory data in the same disordered state that the mind receives it”(Gioia, and Gwynn, 856). However, the article claims that the definition is vague since their is no precise definition about this concept.

The poem Howl is written in three parts since Allen Ginsberg took his time to write this poem. Allen Ginsberg was having many thoughts and feelings of the fifties. The first part of the poem started in a spontaneous way. During the first part of his poem, his thoughts were bleak and nightmarishes as a result of him being negative. “I saw the best minds of my generation destroy….. and the blond & naked angel came to pierce them with a sword”(Jonsson,5). Also, generations are going mad because some people are not behaving how they should in the 50s. Therefore, the generations are being split which is causing the world to change around them.

Another significant outcome of the poem was during the second part of the poem. He indicated the destruction of society will happen as a result of materialism and conformism. Also, Materialism and conformism is inviting evil into society because this is causing hard attitudes of America during that time. In the bible, Jonsson suggests that Moloch was in the early testament as a fake God where many children were being sacraficed (Jonsson, 7). “Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisable suburbs! skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic industries! spectral nations! invincible madhouses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs”(Jonsson, 7). Therefore, it seems as if Allen Ginsberg is demonstrating the negative affects about materialism and conformism in his poem since he see’s this as the evils in society just like war.

He created the third part of the poem because he was still not satified with Howl. He wanted to add his friend, Carl Solomon since he worship him. Solomon met Allen Ginsberg at the mental hospital where his mother was attending. Once he finish the  poem it was published in 1956 since he met the requirements of social importance and artisitc value. This poem change his life because he was seen as a controversial man that made people  naturally drawn to other literary works.

The poem Howl was for everyone’s enjoyment since Allen Ginsberg’s life had many experiences that made his biography of him more fascinating to the public. For example, his career and how he infleuence the beat poets in the late 1950’s onward was being seen in his poetry, as a result of their names being mentioned e.g., Kerouac, Solomon and so on.  Therefore, his poem Howl launched his career because people were always curious about Allen Ginsberg’ experiences which always was indicated in his poetry.

Howl has became one of the most famous American poems of the 20th century. The book is constantly printed in new editions and several translations have been done (Jonsson, 7). At the time of writing his last poems before he died, he had sold about a million copies by December 2004 (Jonsson, 7).The poem became so famous that he discussed that he had feelings of regret because it seems as if no one pay any attention to his other poetry as much as they did for the poem Howl.

               The Poem “HOWL”

                    For Carl Solomon

                           I

       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 machin-
              ery 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 tene-
              ment 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, burn-
              ing 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, al-
              cohol and cock and endless balls,
       incomparable blind; streets of shuddering cloud and
              lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of
              Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the mo-
              tionless 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 Brook-
              lyn, 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 after
              noon 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 Brook-
              lyn Bridge,
       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-grind-
              ings and migraines of China under junk-with-
              drawal 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 grand-
              father night,
       who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telep-
              athy and bop kabbalah because the cosmos in-
              stinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas,
       who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking vis-
              ionary 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 Okla-
              homa 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 fire
              place Chicago,
       who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the
              F.B.I. in beards and shorts with big pacifist
              eyes sexy in their dark skin passing out incom-
              prehensible 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 manu-
              scripts,
       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 rose
              gardens 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 can-
              dle 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 sun
              rise, flashing buttocks under barns and naked
              in the lake,
       who went out whoring through Colorado in myriad
              stolen night-cars, N.C., secret hero of these
              poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver-joy
              to the memory of his innumerable lays of girls
              in empty lots & diner backyards, moviehouses’
              rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or with
              gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely pet-
              ticoat upliftings & especially secret gas-station
              solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys too,
       who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in
              dreams, woke on a sudden Manhattan, and
              picked themselves up out of basements hung
              over with heartless Tokay and horrors of Third
              Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to unemploy-
              ment offices,
       who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on
              the snowbank docks waiting for a door in the
              East River to open to a room full of steamheat
              and opium,
       who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment
              cliff-banks of the Hudson under the wartime
              blue floodlight of the moon & their heads shall
              be crowned with laurel in oblivion,
       who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested
              the crab at the muddy bottom of the rivers of
              Bowery,
       who wept at the romance of the streets with their
              pushcarts full of onions and bad music,
       who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the
              bridge, and rose up to build harpsichords in
              their lofts,
       who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned
              with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded
              by orange crates of theology,
       who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty
              incantations which in the yellow morning were
              stanzas of gibberish,
       who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht
              & tortillas dreaming of the pure vegetable
              kingdom,
       who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for
              an egg,
       who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot
              for Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks
              fell on their heads every day for the next decade,
       who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccess-
              fully, gave up and were forced to open antique
              stores where they thought they were growing
              old and cried,
       who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits
              on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse
              & the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments
              of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the
              fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of sinis-
              ter intelligent editors, or were run down by the
              drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality,
       who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually hap-
              pened and walked away unknown and forgotten
              into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alley
              ways & firetrucks, not even one free beer,
       who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of
              the subway window, jumped in the filthy Pas-
              saic, leaped on negroes, cried all over the street,
              danced on broken wineglasses barefoot smashed
              phonograph records of nostalgic European
              1930s German jazz finished the whiskey and
              threw up groaning into the bloody toilet, moans
              in their ears and the blast of colossal steam
              whistles,
       who barreled down the highways of the past journeying
              to each other’s hotrod-Golgotha jail-solitude
              watch or Birmingham jazz incarnation,
       who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out
              if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had
              a vision to find out Eternity,
       who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who
              came back to Denver & waited in vain, who
              watched over Denver & brooded & loned in
              Denver and finally went away to find out the
              Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes,
       who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying
              for each other’s salvation and light and breasts,
              until the soul illuminated its hair for a second,
       who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for
              impossible criminals with golden heads and the
              charm of reality in their hearts who sang sweet
              blues to Alcatraz,
       who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky
              Mount to tender Buddha or Tangiers to boys
              or Southern Pacific to the black locomotive or
              Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the
              daisychain or grave,
       who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hyp
              notism & were left with their insanity & their
              hands & a hung jury,
       who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturers on Dadaism
              and subsequently presented themselves on the
              granite steps of the madhouse with shaven heads
              and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding in-
              stantaneous lobotomy,
       and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin
              Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psycho-
              therapy occupational therapy pingpong &
              amnesia,
       who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic
              pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia,
       returning years later truly bald except for a wig of
              blood, and tears and fingers, to the visible mad
              man doom of the wards of the madtowns of the
              East,
       Pilgrim State’s Rockland’s and Greystone’s foetid
              halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul, rock-
              ing and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench
              dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a night-
              mare, bodies turned to stone as heavy as the
              moon,
       with mother finally ******, and the last fantastic book
              flung out of the tenement window, and the last
              door closed at 4. A.M. and the last telephone
              slammed at the wall in reply and the last fur-
              nished room emptied down to the last piece of
              mental furniture, a yellow paper rose twisted
              on a wire hanger in the closet, and even that
              imaginary, nothing but a hopeful little bit of
              hallucination
       ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and
              now you’re really in the total animal soup of
              time
       and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed
              with a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use
              of the ellipse the catalog the meter & the vibrat-
              ing plane,
       who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space
              through images juxtaposed, and trapped the
              archangel of the soul between 2 visual images
              and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun
              and dash of consciousness together jumping
              with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna
              Deus
       to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human
              prose and stand before you speechless and intel-
              ligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet con-
              fessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm
              of thought in his naked and endless head,
       the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown,
              yet putting down here what might be left to say
              in time come after death,
       and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in
              the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the
              suffering of America’s naked mind for love into
              an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone
              cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio
       with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered
              out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand
              years.

                           II

       What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open
              their skulls and ate up their brains and imagi-
              nation?
       Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unob
              tainable 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 stun-
              ned governments!
       Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose
              blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers
              are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a canni-
              bal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking
              tomb!
       Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows!
              Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long
              streets like endless Jehovahs! Moloch whose fac-
              tories dream and croak in the fog! Moloch whose
              smokestacks and antennae crown the cities!
       Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch
              whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch
              whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch
              whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen!
              Moloch whose name is the Mind!
       Moloch in whom I sit lonely! Moloch in whom I dream
              Angels! Crazy in Moloch! Cocksucker in
              Moloch! Lacklove and manless in Moloch!
       Moloch who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom
              I am a consciousness without a body! Moloch
              who frightened me out of my natural ecstasy!
              Moloch whom I abandon! Wake up in Moloch!
              Light streaming out of the sky!
       Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs!
              skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic
              industries! spectral nations! invincible mad
              houses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs!
       They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pave-
              ments, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to
              Heaven which exists and is everywhere about
              us!
       Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies!
              gone down the American river!
       Dreams! adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole
              boatload of sensitive bullshit!
       Breakthroughs! over the river! flips and crucifixions!
              gone down the flood! Highs! Epiphanies! De-
              spairs! Ten years’ animal screams and suicides!
              Minds! New loves! Mad generation! down on
              the rocks of Time!
       Real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the
              wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade farewell!
              They jumped off the roof! to solitude! waving!
              carrying flowers! Down to the river! into the
              street!

                           III

       Carl Solomon! I’m with you in Rockland
              where you’re madder than I am
       I’m with you in Rockland
              where you must feel very strange
       I’m with you in Rockland
              where you imitate the shade of my mother
       I’m with you in Rockland
              where you’ve murdered your twelve secretaries
       I’m with you in Rockland
              where you laugh at this invisible humor
       I’m with you in Rockland
              where we are great writers on the same dreadful
              typewriter
       I’m with you in Rockland
              where your condition has become serious and
              is reported on the radio
       I’m with you in Rockland
              where the faculties of the skull no longer admit
              the worms of the senses
       I’m with you in Rockland
              where you drink the tea of the breasts of the
              spinsters of Utica
       I’m with you in Rockland
              where you pun on the bodies of your nurses the
              harpies of the Bronx
       I’m with you in Rockland
              where you scream in a straightjacket that you’re
              losing the game of the actual pingpong of the
              abyss
       I’m with you in Rockland
              where you bang on the catatonic piano the soul
              is innocent and immortal it should never die
              ungodly in an armed madhouse
       I’m with you in Rockland
              where fifty more shocks will never return your
              soul to its body again from its pilgrimage to a
              cross in the void
       I’m with you in Rockland
              where you accuse your doctors of insanity and
              plot the Hebrew socialist revolution against the
              fascist national Golgotha
       I’m with you in Rockland
              where you will split the heavens of Long Island
              and resurrect your living human Jesus from the
              superhuman tomb
       I’m with you in Rockland
              where there are twenty-five-thousand mad com-
              rades all together singing the final stanzas of the Internationale
       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 col-
              lapse O skinny legions run outside O starry
              spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is
              here O victory forget your underwear we’re
              free
       I’m with you in Rockland
              in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea-
              journey on the highway across America in tears
              to the door of my cottage in the Western night

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“The Believer Magazine”

     Believer is a magazine mainly about literature( The Believer, 2007). A publisher by the name of McSweeney is situated out of San Francisco where they cover articles on a variety of author’s, artist, and literary issues from the past to the present. This magazine has particularly interest in pop culture and politics since controversial issues makes way for interesting topics.  Also the Believer has no length requirements which give the people a chance to express their ideas and thoughts of a particular topic optimistically. However, the magazine editors and publishers will focus on the author’s they like. The Believer Magazine has 10 issues a year, which can be found on DVD, and CD. These magazines cover a wide range of authors, interviews, book reviews, letters from the readers, and illustrations or cartoons throughout each issue.    

    Among the Believer’s, the mission of this magazine is  “to capture this aesthetic of mixing and matching, swapping and rediscovering”(New York Times, 2005). The people involved in this magazine reminded me of Allen Ginsberg since he was willing to fight for his own beliefs and say anything at the risk of the public outcasting him. In the same way, the magazine is willing to rebell against other people’s experiences, so that these entries are truthful and real. They value integrity and are very ethical when promoting their magazine as a literary one. Also, this magazine started because editors were keen to figure out someone’s life and how culture played a role in it. Basically, this magazine is used as a voice, so that information is getting out to the public in a conventional way. “The blending of pop cultural, academic theory, literary eosterical, and youthful apperances”(New York Times, 2005) have created authentic and seriousness to these pieces of literary works

      I thought this magazine was very authentic since the poem Howl was being critique in a commentary or confessional way. Rolf Potts uses Allen Ginsberg’s confessional poetry style to enhance his thoughts or feelings towards Ginsberg’s poem Howl.  I did noticed numerous references being made about US cities or states in his poem. Although he passes many states on his road trip, the state he is most attracted to is Kansas. Rolf Potts notes that Ginsberg makes reference to Kansas because he believes that state has huge politically support for the war and military operations. He also suggests that Ginsberg’s belief of Kansas as a red state is true since it mirrors Middle American Conservatism. For example “Ginsberg saw Kansas as the mystic center of America, celebrated by Whitman in Leaves of Grass chants going forth from the center, from Kansas, and thence equidistant / shooting in pulses of fire ceaseless to vivify all”( The Believer Magazine, 2007). In other words he sees Kansas as the centre of the United States Midwest from west to east. For instance, the poet saw Wichita, the ultimate destination of his road-trip poem, as the symbolic heart of this transcendental American vortex” ( The Believer Magazine, 2007). Although Kansas is a red state, beyond politically generalizations he saw this place as an ultimate destination linking a supported state to the US. Not to say this state would have welcome Ginsberg’s political views, but aside from that this state was ideal due to its geography.

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Why I have chosen Allen Ginsberg

I have chosen a blog on Allen Ginsberg since he was an influential poet in the 1940s until April 7th, 1997 when he passed away.  Allen Ginsberg had many special qualities to offer such as he was a song writer, founder of the literary movement, spiritual seeker, a leader in civil rights and freedom movement’s, and a teacher.  These are some of the qualities I admire in a person which makes me want to share to everyone who this person is. Allen Ginsberg has a unique style for his poetry which was called confessional poetry.          

Confessional poetry “designates a type of narrative, and lyric verse, given impetus by American Robert Lowell’s Life Studies(1959), which deals with the facts and intimate mental and physical experiences of the poet’s own life”(Abrams, 45).

Allen Ginsberg definitely used his own mental and physical experiences to gain political gain during his life. His technique”confessional poetry“was beautifully crafted which makes me want to research his life even more. He seems to have an interesting life that keeps me wanting to learn more, and more about him.

Some poems about Ginsberg’s life will be examined through close reading’s of his poetry. The poem Howl, Kiddish, America, Witchita Vortex Sutra, and Sun Flower Sutra are some of his famous literary works that will be indicated in these blogs. I feel these are the poems that have the most meaning to me since the problems that are happening in society today are similiar to what the poet went through earlier on in his life. The Cold War that happened in the 1940s is similar to the Iraq and Afghanastan wars that are plaquing the world in the 21st century. I am definitely against the wars that are happening today since I feel their has not been any justification of why the United States attacked these countries in the first place. In the poems, Howl, Kiddish, and Wichita Vortex Sutra all deal with the wars that were happening during Allen Ginsberg’s life.  Another reason these poems have the most meaning is family will be there for you through the good and bad times. In other words,  you can count on them whenever you need them.  Just like Allen Ginsberg’s life, he cared for his mother deeply so he wrote about her in a poem called SunFlower Sutra. Finally, I feel his voice was so powerful that maybe when people read his work they will be inspired to change the problems of the world today.  Through confessional poetry people can become a political activist for the future, as a result of learning information from Allen Ginsberg’s biography.    

I ‘am a stenographer of my mind. I write down what  passes through it, not whats going around me. I am a poet-Allen Ginsberg (PoetryArchive, 2005).

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Source:(www.poetryarchive.org)

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