Favourite Bits From Ginsberg’s Howl

. . . because I got stuck writing an essay on it (not my idea) but I actually rather like it and wanted to share the bits that tug at my grey matter and heart strings. Because I am obviously a literary whore. And, well, because I honestly love the queer content in the iconic poem by the queer author. The fact that he was dragged to court over it — on obscenity charges that were only laid because of the aforementioned queer content — and that he won just makes Ginsberg and Howl that much better, in my opinion.

Line 1: “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked”

Line 5: “Who bared their brains to Heaven”

Line 7: “Who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull”

Line 10-11: “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”

Line 18: “whispering facts and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars”

Line 19: “Whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days and nights”

Line 28: “Who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston seeking jazz or sex or soup”

Line 35-36: “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”

Line 39: “Who hiccupped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up with a sob”

Line 40: “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”

Line 45: “Who walked all night with their shoes full of blood”

Line 48: “Who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the bridge”

Line 51: “Who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty incantations which in the yellow morning were stanzas of gibberish”

Line 54: “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” (I feel like alarm clocks are falling on my head every time I have to answer the strident screeching of one)

Line 55: “Who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccessfully, gave up and were forced to open antique stores where they thought they were growing old and cried”

Line 56: “& the nitroglycerin shrieks of the fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of sinister intelligent editors, or were run down by the drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality”

Line 61: “& now Denver is lonesome for her heroes”

Line 62: “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”

Line 65: “Who demanded sanity trials and accusing radio of hypnotism & were left with their insanity & their hands & a hung jury”

Line 66-67: “presented themselves on the granite steps of the madhouse with shaven heads and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding instantaneous lobotomy,/ And who were given instead the concrete void of insulin metrasol electricity hydrotherapy psychotherapy occupational therapy pingpong & amnesia”

Line 70: “bickering with the echoes of the soul”

Line 71: “nothing but a hopeful little bit of hallucination”

Line 75: “speechless and intelligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet confessing out the soul”

Line 77: “blew the suffering of America’s naked mind for love”

Line 79: “What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?” (I can’t even say how much I love this image.)

Line 80: “Ashcans and unobtainable dollars! [. . .] Boys sobbing in armies!”

Line 84: “skyscrapers stand in the long streets like endless Jehovahs!”

Line 91: “the whole boatload of sensitive bullshit”

Line 109: “Where the faculties of the skull no longer admit the worms of the senses”

Line 119: “Where fifty more shocks will never return your soul to its body again”

Line 121: “Where you accuse your doctors of insanity” (But is it an accusation if they really are batshit?)

Line 129: “Where we wake up electrified out of the coma by our own souls’ airplanes roaring over the roof”

. . . And there you have it. No, please don’t look for sense. Sense-making is for individuals who sleep.

I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.


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