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Allen Ginsberg: spokesman for Hippy culture

A core member of the Beat Generation of poets and writers, which included William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac

  • A Supermarket in California
  • What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the streets 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?
  • An Eastern Ballad
  • I speak of love that comes to mind: 
  • The moon is faithful, although blind; 
  • She moves in thought she cannot speak. 
  • Perfect care has made her bleak.
  • I never dreamed the sea so deep, 
  • The earth so dark; so long my sleep, 
  • I have become another child. 
  • I wake to see the world go wild.
Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) was an American poet and a core member of the Beat Generation of poets and writers, which included William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. A gadfly of the Industrial-Military complex as well as the traditional moral and social norms of the day, Ginsberg was seen as a spokesman for the Hippy culture that flourished during the 1960s and 1970s. His most famous poem, “Howl,” became all the more popular when it became the focus of a well-publicized obscenity trial — the poem included descriptions of heterosexual and homosexual sexual acts. (The judge ruled in the case that as poetry, “Howl” was protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.) Ginsberg’s work reflects a panoply of influences – including Walt Whitman (whose long vatic lines Ginsberg consciously emulated), William Carlos Williams, William Blake, Eastern philosophy, and jazz.

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  • A Supermarket in California
  • What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the streets 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?
  • An Eastern Ballad
  • I speak of love that comes to mind: 
  • The moon is faithful, although blind; 
  • She moves in thought she cannot speak. 
  • Perfect care has made her bleak.
  • I never dreamed the sea so deep, 
  • The earth so dark; so long my sleep, 
  • I have become another child. 
  • I wake to see the world go wild.
Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) was an American poet and a core member of the Beat Generation of poets and writers, which included William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. A gadfly of the Industrial-Military complex as well as the traditional moral and social norms of the day, Ginsberg was seen as a spokesman for the Hippy culture that flourished during the 1960s and 1970s. His most famous poem, “Howl,” became all the more popular when it became the focus of a well-publicized obscenity trial — the poem included descriptions of heterosexual and homosexual sexual acts. (The judge ruled in the case that as poetry, “Howl” was protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.) Ginsberg’s work reflects a panoply of influences – including Walt Whitman (whose long vatic lines Ginsberg consciously emulated), William Carlos Williams, William Blake, Eastern philosophy, and jazz.

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