Allen Ginsbers, the new American HeroIn today’s article, I will discuss Allen Ginsberg and his powerful poetry. Why? Because I want to highlight a poet who represents not only a period of change in American literary history but also a new configuration of the `American Hero`. As usual, in the second part of the article, I will present to you my favourite pieces of poetry from our `spotlighted` hero. 

The Narrative of The American Hero:

Firstly, we shall delimit what an American Hero is and where this figure came from. In his essay, `Nature`, Emerson gives the best interpretation of what an American spirit should hold, through his famous introduction, which clearly sets the boundaries of the heroic character and writes the narrative of the new age: 

“OUR age is retrospective. It builds the sepulchres of the fathers. It writes biographies, histories, and criticism. The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes. […]  There is more wool and flax in the fields. There are new lands, new men, new thoughts. Let us demand our own works and laws and worship.“ 

The American Hero is a figure of the new age, breaking through the boundaries constructed by the European thought. This hero discovers the land and makes it his own, through an absolute communion with Nature. In other words, the American Hero is a fictional figure of the American soul, if you want, a new representation of the myth of the hero created with and within the American geographical space, as `Philosophically considered, the universe is composed of Nature and the Soul`, the American hero is the absolute communion of these two spheres. Of course, there are more to be said, as this complex topic could be an article in itself, however, I shall limit myself to a brief introduction. 

Ginsberg as The New Face Of The American Narrative:

Ginsberg, inspired both by Emerson and Whitman, integrates this rhetoric into his poetic world and bends it to his own needs, creating his own definition of the American Hero and more than that, he becomes THE new representation of the American Hero, giving a voice to the poor and marginalised minorities. In his poetry, he talks proudly about his sexual orientation, needs, fantasies and brings into the cultural space of the `50 a dialogue people were afraid to open. 

Of course, Ginsberg also criticises the American capitalist absolutism present in each and every breath of the public sphere, to the detriment of these poor flag He becomes an activist for LGBT+ rights for the people of the 1950s, being a direct contributor to the integration of the community in the literary space, as `For […] Ginsberg this process by which poets become popular heroes and America a poetic text relies upon discourses of sex and sexuality, especially gay sexuality.`(Nick Selby, Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”: Sexuality and Popular Heroism in 50s America)

His vers are brutal, visceral, sometimes even violent, as one can see from the famous `Howl`(1956) or `America`(1956) or even `Death to Van Gogh’s Ear` (1957), the hero talking honestly about the less known problems faced by his people, bringing them into the popular culture and paradoxically creating a safe space for his community.

Ginsberg is a wonderful creator, with such a diversified poetic rhythm and a multitude of voices that the reader is forcefully introduced into a world that will most probably fully intoxicate them. Inspired by the Bebop Jazz artists of his time, his poetry has a unique musicality, LSD coloured.

That’s why I personally love to read Ginsberg, for the power his voice holds, for the voice which unashamedly banters the status quo and challenges the pre-established societal narrative, creating a new one, thus becoming a new Hero. Some of my favourite poems:

Pull My Daisy

tip my cup
all my doors are open
Cut my thoughts
for coconuts
all my eggs are broken
Jack my Arden
gate my shades
woe my road is spoken
Silk my garden
rose my days
now my prayers awaken

Bone my shadow
dove my dream
start my halo bleeding
Milk my mind &
make me cream
drink me when you’re ready
Hop my heart on
harp my height
seraphs hold me steady
Hip my angel
hype my light
lay it on the needy

Heal the raindrop
sow the eye
bust my dust again
Woe the worm
work the wise
dig my spade the same
Stop the hoax
what’s the hex
where’s the wake
how’s the hicks
take my golden beam

Rob my locker
lick my rocks
leap my cock in school
Rack my lacks
lark my looks
jump right up my hole
Whore my door
beat my boor
eat my snake of fool
Craze my hair
bare my poor
asshole shorn of wool

say my oops
ope my shell
Bite my naked nut
Roll my bones
ring my bell
call my worm to sup
Pope my parts
pop my pot
raise my daisy up
Poke my papa
pit my plum
let my gap be shut

-Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg


What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!—and you, Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you, and followed in my imagination by the store detective.
We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier.

Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way does your beard point tonight?
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel absurd.)
Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we’ll both be lonely.
Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe?
Berkeley, 1955


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