Analyze a specific message from “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg, primarily concerning the form (the numbered divisions, the rhythm, the syntax, the punctuation) and rhetorical devices (especially anaphora) of the poem.
Allen Ginsberg's iconic poem "Howl" contains many themes or messages, and one of those themes which ties all three parts of the poem together is the concept of religion. Ginsberg would not claim to be a particularly religious man, but the religious undertones in the work are difficult to ignore.
The primary religious theme is developed in Part I. He contrasts two kinds of worshipers: those who worship the capitalistic forms and organizations of society (religion, education, metropolises, authority, business) with those who worship hedonistic pursuits such as drugs, sex, hypnotism, and suicide.
While there is clearly no rhyme in this poem, the form certainly creates a recognizable poem. Part I is one long sentence, making this stanza one long recitation, suggestive of a hymn or a sermon. The rhythm of listing example after example creates a kind of hypnotic, ritualistic cadence. This reinforces the religious symbolism, recreating a traditional or mystical kind of chanting.
In Part II, the religious tone continues and is even more obvious, as the speaker consistently cries out the name of "Moloch," an idol (false god) to whom children were once sacrificed. Here Moloch symbolizes the traditional structures of society, such as government, culture, war, and religion.
Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks!
As we see in this line from Part II, the rhythm has changed from a steady cadence to a more choppy list, dealing a punch or a blow with every word and phrase. The syntax and punctuation have both changed dramatically. The exclamation points add emphasis to every punch and stab, and the short...
(The entire section contains 574 words.)
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