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What are similarities and differences in reading section I of Ginsberg's Howl and...

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onewhale | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted April 30, 2011 at 9:57 AM via web

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What are similarities and differences in reading section I of Ginsberg's Howl and reading Whitman's Song of Myself?

Section I of Howl may suggest Whitman strongly, especially those passages in Song of Myself in which Whitman offers us a tour of many different Americans and their work and personal experiences.

 

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lfawley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted August 1, 2011 at 10:07 AM (Answer #1)

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The main difference between Ginsberg and Whitman (whom Ginsberg respected and admitted to being influenced by) lie in the fact that Ginsberg is much more "raw" in his expression.


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

Ginsberg sees a world that is fractured and torn apart, but fighting to maintain individual identity within that world. Whitman is more hopeful for the world and his place in it:

 

The atmosphere is not a perfume, it has no taste of the
distillation, it is odorless,
It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it,
I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked,
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.

Both Ginsberg and Whitman cavort with the angels and become one with them. Ginsberg, through sex:


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 love,

Whitman celebrates the connection between God and love, but less openly as a sexual act:

And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women

my sisters and lovers,
And that a kelson of the creation is love,

Both poets, however, celebrate identity and openly celebrate and embrace both heterosexual and homosexual love in their poems and in themselves. While Whitman's work is more hopeful, more filled with the adoration of the beauty of nature, Ginsberg is more raw and less given to paint the world around him in bright hues.

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