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Howl

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Ginsberg uses an element of profanity all through the poem ‘Howl’. He brings forth both scenarios and uses language that shows some element of disrespect. He says how he saw the best brains of his generation and goes ahead to says, “Who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated” (Allen, pg 2). This is said in a manner to suggest that the Angels as holy as the Islamic prophet Mohammed were staggering hence insinuating that as holy as Angles associated with Mohammed is supposed to be, they still got drunk. He goes further to link such holy Angel-like colleagues for having been expelled from school for publishing obscene literature, being linked to a range of terror activities and even smoking marijuana. In all manner of respect, those are not the things that can be linked to holy persons like Mohammed. He further links Purgatory, a heavenly place that Catholics believe to be a place where people with fewer sins are held before being allowed into heaven, to being drunk with Turpentine. He further says that his peers “whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the Synagogue cast on the pavement” in a manner to disrespect the synagogue, which is always to be a holy place where probably only wine and bread is served.

He likens his colleagues, whom he believes to be enlightened to seeking to see visionary Indian Angels (Allen, pg 4). Angels are supposed to be supernatural beings who have heavenly and supernatural connections and abilities. By saying, ‘Indian Angels’, Ginsberg in a way, lowers the supernatural nature of Angel to human and earthly creatures. He says that talking about eternity is a hopeless task as if to hold that the whole foundation of religious views is hopeless. He also talks of his colleagues “Who let themselves to be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists and screamed with joy” (Allen, pg 3). This statement is out rightly profane because it associates acts of immorality and sheer moral decadence with a saint. Saints are religious figures for perfection and upon whom the rest of the faithful are always supposed to look up to as role models in their walk in faith.

He also links the saints with people who went on the rampage having sex in all the places ‘spreading their semen to whoever came’ (Allen, pg 2). He makes it sound as if to resolve to seek eternity like most mainstream religions do, one has to have a certain vision, which is not easy to get in the first place. He at the same time talks of her colleagues, who went to Denver, died in Denver and came back to Denver. By this he makes it look like his colleagues have the supernatural powers to die and resurrect, something that Christians for instance believe only Jesus did because he had divine powers.  He talks of the people who prayed on their knees in hopeless cathedrals and prayed for each other’s salvation and for each other’s breasts. This is demeaning to the cathedral as a house of worship. In part two where he mentions Moloch, he says that Moloch is the judger of men and that Moloch is loveless. This is profane because only the Most High God is always believed to be the ultimate judger of men and unlike the loveless Moloch he is a loving God. He bestows very powerful qualities to Moloch, qualities that are only linked to God in real sense. He for instance says that Moloch’s finger is like ten armies, powers that should only be bestowed on a supernatural being like God. Even in the third and final part of the poem, he talks of Rockland as a place where the soul is immortal. In this case, Rockland is sarcastically used to replace heaven!

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