Howl: I Hear America Singing

Since we last left this blog, in a state of disarray and political dire straits, I haven’t gotten it right inside. So instead of boring you with my pedagogical and pedantic rants of disillusionment, I mashed together two poets of note: not Starsky & Hutch. (Ginsberg and Whitman (pictured left))

I am no expert on their writings. Not some scholar bent on the critique and disection of their works. I just think most Americans should know who they are.

I got most of my positive innoculation to their writing well after college. I was an Engineering major, which meant my typical semester course schedule included Thermodynamics, Differential Calculus, Operations Research, Linear Programming in C and Egyptian History. I took one English class and a Com class in my 5-year plan not worked out by Stalin.

But back to the show!

Walt Whitman. I Sing the Body Electric! The title was added after the original publication – as was the line. I Hear America Singing is usually thought of as his best work. Patriotic. Workman like with the toils of Americans at their best.

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work,
or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows,
robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

Meanwhile, a century later, Ginsberg stood the conventions of the time on ear with a Howl! Again, another potrait of America in my uneducated view:
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,
Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops, storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon blinking trafficlight, 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 brilliancein the drear light of Zoo,
who sank all night in the submarine light of Bickford’s, floated out and satthrough the stale beer afternooon in desolate Fugazzi’s, listening to the crackof doom on the hydrogen jukebox,
It goes on for quite a while like that…reciting it would be a bitch, unless you were on some sort of ‘happy pills.’
Ginsberg used a a repetitive style, like Mr. Whitmans, likely borrowed. Repeating the line introduction, nearly the same cadence always – with poetic quirks – and describing as good or as bad as we have it in America.
Seeing the world either as positive or as negative, as crass or as saintly, as to men could.
I got no more time today!!! I’ll see you next week!!!
AUDI 5000!!!!

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  • carol webb  On March 10, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Walt Whitman (Uncle Walt) was one of my favourite poets to study. I get where he was coming from, and at University in England I was certainly on my own in this, even the lecturer thought I was mad!

    A poet either reaches my soul or doesn’t…Walt. does.

  • JayPeeFreely  On March 11, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    In last night’s episode of New Amsterdam, they had a chance meeting by the lead John Amsterdam and Walt Whitman.

    I wish I had choose the grass that is greener in liberal arts.

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