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Top 100 or so Poems "HOWL Part I" By Allen Ginsberg

This poem is the stuff of greatness, a masterpiece, revolutionary in it's creation, implementation, reading, even as spoken-word - a great mad Hell of heart flow and desperation - which many, including myself can still feel today in my own way (lurking underneath "it all").

I cannot do this poem justice. Simply, I will insert the actual Introduction as written by the great 20th Century poet, William Carlos Williams, and let you read the poem:

"When he was younger, and I was younger, I used to know Allen Ginsberg,
a young poet living in Paterson, New Jersey, where he, son of a well-known
poet, had been born and grew up. He was physically slight of build and
mentally much disturbed by the life which he had encountered about him
during those first years after the First World War as it was exhibited to
him in and about New York City. He was always on the point of 'going away',
where it didn't seem to matter; he disturbed me, I never thought he'd live
to grow up and write and book of poems. His ability to survive, travel, and
go on writing astonishes me. That he has gone on developing and perfecting
his art is no less astonishing to me.
Now he turns up fifteen or twenty years later with an arresting.
Literally, he has, from all the evidence, been through hell. On the way
he met a man named Carl Solomon with whom he shared among the teeth and
excrement of this life something that cannot be described but in the words
he has used to describe it. It is a howl of defeat. Not defeat at all for
he has gone through defeat as if it were an ordinary experience, a trivial
experience. Everyone in this life is defeated but a man, if he be a man,
is not defeated.
It is the poet, Allen Ginsberg, who has gone, in his own body, through
the horrifying experiences described from life in these pages. The wonder
of the thing is not that he survived but that he, from the very depths, has
found a fellow whom he can love, a love he celebrates without looking aside
in these poems. Say what you will, he proves to us, in spite of the most
debasing experiences that life can offer a man, the spirit of love survives
to ennoble our lives if we have the wit and the courage and the faith-and
the art! to persist.
It is the belief in the art of the 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
own 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 at 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 going through hell."

William Carlos Williams

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

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,

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

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

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
streetlight 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

who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked
and trembling before the machinery of other

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

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

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,

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
petticoat 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
unemployment 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 steam-heat
and opium,

who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment
cliff-banks of the Hudson under the wartime
blur 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

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

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 unsuccessfully,
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 sinister
intelligent editors, or were run down by the
drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality,

who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened
and walked away unknown and forgotten
into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alleyways
& firetrucks, not even one free beer,

who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of
the subway window, jumped in the filthy Passaic,
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

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
hypnotism & 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
instantaneous lobotomy,

and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin
Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psychotherapy
occupational therapy pingpong &

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 madman
doom of the wards of the madtowns of the

Pilgrim State’s Rockland’s and Greystone’s foetid
halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul,
rocking and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench
dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a nightmare,
bodies turned to stone as heavy as the

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
furnished 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

ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and
now you’re really in the total animal soup of

and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed
with a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use
of the ellipsis catalogue a variable measure and the
vibrating 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

to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human
prose and stand before you speechless and
intelligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet
confessing 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

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