I hope you enjoy reading Allen Ginsberg poem “America” since I think this is an important literary work that the world needs to read. Also, this poem is an excellent example of social protest since he is frustrated with the problems that were happening in the US during the late forties and fifties.
The Poem: “America”
America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.
America two dollars and twentyseven cents January
I can’t stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb.
I don’t feel good don’t bother me.
I won’t write my poem till I’m in my right mind.
America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?
America why are your libraries full of tears?
America when will you send your eggs to India?
I’m sick of your insane demands.
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I
need with my good looks?
America after all it is you and I who are perfect not
the next world.
Your machinery is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint.
There must be some other way to settle this argument.
Burroughs is in Tangiers I don’t think he’ll come back
Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical
I’m trying to come to the point.
I refuse to give up my obsession.
America stop pushing I know what I’m doing.
America the plum blossoms are falling.
I haven’t read the newspapers for months, everyday
somebody goes on trial for murder.
America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies.
America I used to be a communist when I was a kid
I’m not sorry.
I smoke marijuana every chance I get.
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses
in the closet.
When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid.
My mind is made up there’s going to be trouble.
You should have seen me reading Marx.
My psychoanalyst thinks I’m perfectly right.
I won’t say the Lord’s Prayer.
I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations.
America I still haven’t told you what you did to Uncle
Max after he came over from Russia. I’m addressing you.
Are you going to let your emotional life be run by
I’m obsessed by Time Magazine.
I read it every week.
Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner
I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library.
It’s always telling me about responsibility. Business-
men are serious. Movie producers are serious.
Everybody’s serious but me.
It occurs to me that I am America.
I am talking to myself again.Asia is rising against me.
I haven’t got a chinaman’s chance.
I’d better consider my national resources.
My national resources consist of two joints of
marijuana millions of genitals an unpublishable
private literature that goes 1400 miles an hour
and twenty-five-thousand mental institutions.
I say nothing about my prisons nor the millions of
underprivileged who live in my flowerpots
under the light of five hundred suns.
I have abolished the whorehouses of France, Tangiers
is the next to go.
My ambition is to be President despite the fact that
I’m a Catholic.
America how can I write a holy litany in your silly
I will continue like Henry Ford my strophes are as
individual as his automobiles more so they’re
all different sexes.
America I will sell you strophes $2500 apiece $500
down on your old strophe
America free Tom Mooney
America save the Spanish Loyalists
America Sacco & Vanzetti must not die
America I am the Scottsboro boys.
America when I was seven momma took me to Com-
munist Cell meetings they sold us garbanzos a
handful per ticket a ticket costs a nickel and the
speeches were free everybody was angelic and
sentimental about the workers it was all so sin-
cere you have no idea what a good thing the
party was in 1835 Scott Nearing was a grand
old man a real mensch Mother Bloor made me
cry I once saw Israel Amter plain. Everybody
must have been a spy.
America you don’t really want to go to war.
America it’s them bad Russians.
Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen.
And them Russians.
The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia’s power
mad. She wants to take our cars from out our
Her wants to grab Chicago. Her needs a Red Readers’
Digest. Her wants our auto plants in Siberia.
Him big bureaucracy running our fillingsta-
That no good. Ugh. Him make Indians learn read.
Him need big black niggers. Hah. Her make us
all work sixteen hours a day. Help.
America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in
the television set.
America is this correct?
I’d better get right down to the job.
It’s true I don’t want to join the Army or turn lathes
in precision parts factories, I’m nearsighted and
America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.
The poem “America” is a significant part of American history since Allen Ginsberg confesses all the issues he was having with America during the late forties and fifties. The problems that have been plaguing the United States are associated with his attitudes towards consumerism, McCarthyism, homosexuality. In the beginning of the poem, he is complaining that the American people are very judgmental since he is being force not to speak his own mind. For example, “I’m sick of your demands”(Ginsberg, line 15) suggests to the reader that he is tired of being someone he’s not, and he will not tolerate this any longer. He suggests that Americans were more able to expresses their opinions in the twenties and thirties than they were in the forties and fifties. This occurs because people were fearful to express their own thoughts and feelings due to McCarthyism.
McCarthyism derived from the actions of Senator Joseph McCarthy in the early 1950s, has come to mean the use of reckless and unfair accusations in the name of suppressing political disloyalty. The actions of McCarthy combined with communist expansion and the Korean War aroused public fear and led to a renewed Red Scare. McCarthy played on public fear in a bid to increase his own political standing. In the end McCarthy’s accusations were proven false and he was censured by the Senate, although this came too late for many whose lives were ruined by those unsubstantiated charges (McCarthy Webquest, 1).
As the poem went on, he was getting bitter and emotional due to the problems that were occurring in America. Also, he was trying to convince people that you can still be American and disagree with the problems that exist in America at that time. At that time, Ginsberg suggested “What is it to be an American”. Is American someone that reads Time Magazine, or not being a communist? In the 1930s communist was acceptable, however, people were very fearful of it in the late 1940s and into the sixties since the Cold War World was creating tension between the Americans and the Russians. This is when the term McCarthyism was introduced since their political strategy was to create fear in the minds of the American people by the 1950s. The concept McCarthyism suggested that it would be un- American for people to be involved in communism activities. Politicians use a brainwashing tactic “McCarthyism” on the Americans so that they understood what it is to be truly American. To be truly American the ideal person must be white, heterosexual, own a car, earned a decent living and have 2.5 children according to Ginsberg poem in the 1950s. McCarthyism was once used again in 2001 when Islamic fundamentalist terrorists attacked the World Trade Centre. Instead The Bush Administration replaced the word communism with terrorism causing many Americans to fear for their lives. In a way, history does repeat itself, yet humans still have not learn from the past.
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses in the closet (Ginsberg, line 27). This line represents how he has to keep his sexual orientation a secret because McCarthy’s chief lawyer “hated communist and homosexuals” (Social Studies Help Centre, 1). As a result, Allen Ginsberg kept his sexual orientation a secret since he knew other people would not accept him in society due to the existence of homophobia. The American Heritage Dictionary (1992 edition) defines homophobia “as aversion to gay or homosexual people or their lifestyle or culture and behavior or an act based on this aversion (Wellness Centre, 1). Other definitions identify “homophobia as an irrational fear of homosexuality (Wellness Centre,1). In the poem America, America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel (Ginsberg, line 74). This suggests by the end of the poem that he was tired of keeping his homosexuality a secret. Also, he wanted to tell everyone that you can hold your own values and beliefs and still be an american citizen. Therefore, he suggests do not compromise your own beliefs for the sake of society not accepting you as an american.