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

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The message of this poem is that the America (referring to the USA) that the speaker finds themselves in is unsatisfactory and rife with hypocrisy. The poem is rich with allusions to contemporary politics which inform and support the poem’s message.

The hypocrisy of America is shown in many different ways. Most stark is the hypocrisy of American exceptionalism. American exceptionalism is the mythology that the USA was created based on values like liberty and egalitarianism, that the USA is superior to other nations because of these proclaimed values, and that the USA has a mission to spread these values throughout the world.

The speaker, in the first line, says that they have “given you all” but now is nothing. They have done the hard work but have not been rewarded, instead languishing with only $2.27. The speaker’s also asks when they will be able to buy what they need “with my good looks.”

Another hypocrisy that the speaker refers to is the idea of American freedom. The...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 930 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team