(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Among the links in the “chain of strong-breath’d poems,” “Kral Majales” contains some of Ginsberg’s strongest affirmations of human love as a force sufficient to overcome the powers of evil. The poem was written in May, 1965, after Ginsberg had been “sent from Havana” when his hosts found that he was not sympathetic to their suppression of unconventional behavior, and then “sent from Prague” when the authorities became nervous that a hundred thousand Czech citizens were deliriously cheering a bearded, anarchic American poet who was advocating action directly opposed to the political workings of their drab dictatorship. Ginsberg had been chosen as King of May by students and intellectuals in an ancient custom that had endured centuries of upheaval and conquest by foreign empires.

The poem begins as a comic rant juxtaposing the foolishness of capitalists who “proffer Napalm and money in green suitcases to the Naked” with his disappointment in the actuality of a communist government after hearing his mother “reading patiently out of Communist fairy book.” Instead of a worker’s paradise, the Communists “create heavy industry but the heart is also heavy.”

After a balance of images condemning the idiocy of both sides, Ginsberg shifts the tone of the poem completely; he sets against the darkness of modern industrial decay at its most deadly the life-giving properties of the office with which he has been honored and...

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(Masterpieces of American Literature)

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