What is the message of Allen Ginsberg's poem "America"?"America I've given you all and now I'm nothing."

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Michael Ugulini eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The message of the poem "America" by the poet Allen Ginsberg is that America is not listening to and dealing with the plight and concerns of its citizens. The poet conveys his concerns and also his views of what is going on domestically in America, and what is going on as concerns America's foreign policy as well. He talks of America, his country, and when will they "end the human war?"

Ginsberg reveals that he's given what he can to his country and the thanks and rewards he receives amount to him being destitute. He has $2.27 cents at the time of this writing. Ginsberg disagrees with the government's and American society's attack on communists in their midst. Ginsberg also disagrees with America's nuclear armament policies. He wants to know when his country will be "angelic", in other words embracing a holy course of dignity. He desires to know when America will be worthy of all its citizens who have sacrificed for the good of the nation.

America's focus on materialism and the country's technical advances and innovations are too much for Allen Ginsberg. He alludes to the fact that these innovations are soulless and do nothing to transform people into giving, righteous human beings. He also alludes to the fact that the news is full of murder - that America is a depraved and violent society.

He hints that he disavows traditional and maybe all religion:

    I won't say the Lord's Prayer

In essence, he's disavowed the tenets of America, exemplified in the line:

     The American flag is absolutely meaningless to me still just as it was in the thirties.

In addition, Ginsberg highlights that he believes the media runs the emotional life of America and when will the leaders of the country stop this. Ginsberg relates that he, and by extension all of the countries citizens are America. Not the dictates of the leaders of the country. He believes the Communist Cell meeting he attended with his mother as a boy was a fine experience as everyone their was "angelic and sentimental" about America's hard-working working class.


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