What is an analysis of "America" by Allen Ginsberg?

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"America" by Allen Ginsberg might be described as a protest rant or outcry against perceived social, political, and personal injustice in the United States. Ginsberg was part of the Beat Generation of writers and artists, who embraced jazz music, African American culture, drug use, leftist politics, and sexual...

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"America" by Allen Ginsberg might be described as a protest rant or outcry against perceived social, political, and personal injustice in the United States. Ginsberg was part of the Beat Generation of writers and artists, who embraced jazz music, African American culture, drug use, leftist politics, and sexual liberation. Among others, the "Beats" included Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William Burroughs. Ginsberg's membership in this "fraternity" is made evident by his reference to Burroughs in Tangiers in this poem.

The poem is perhaps best analyzed from an historical and cultural perspective. It was written in 1956 during the McCarthy era and the Cold War. Ginsberg is "raging" against political and social injustice in America. He references (among other things) "the Wobblies" (an international labor union), Trotskyites, the atom bomb, Marx, Tom Mooney, Spanish Loyalists, the Scottsboro Boys, and Sacco and Vanzetti. In doing so, he is positioning himself as left-leaning politically, against racial injustice, and against America's militarism. The poem also decries rampant capitalism through Ginsberg's laments about his own financial status as an artist and attacks on American corporate greed. The poem ends with "America I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel," a statement about Ginsberg's sexuality (a controversial issue for the 1950s) and his determination to impact American society through his writing, which is exactly what he is doing in the poem.

The poem is structured as a series of questions, which echoes Langston Hughes's poem "Let America Be America Again."

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