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Allen Ginsberg


Allen Ginsberg was one of the most influential American poets of the twentieth century. A founding member of the Beat literary movement that began in the 1950s, Ginsberg's works reflect the radical times in which he lived as well as a departure from strict, academic poetry. This literary analysis of Ginsberg's work will focus on its poetic form and structure. It will examine the impact of Walt Whitman's poetic style, as well as the poetic forms used in Hebrew verse. Specifically, it will review Ginsberg's poems:

  • "Howl"
  • "Kaddish"
  • "Sunflower Sutra"

In studying these three poems, your research paper will want to explore the development and use of long lines. This analysis will demonstrate that while Ginsberg borrowed poetic forms from others, it was the ideal form to deliver his powerful message to a society on the threshold of radical change. Paper Masters can compose a custom written research paper on Allen Ginsberg that follows your guidelines.

Allen Ginsberg

Ginsberg and Whitman

In Ginsberg's "Howl", published in 1956, he uses a poetic form that breaks the rules of traditional meter and short lines to communicate a message that defies boundaries. In this way, the form of the poem perfectly fits its content. An author notes that Ginsberg's unusually long lines are similar to the length used by Walt Whitman "to explode all material confinements". Ginsberg shared a great deal with Whitman. Both found formal poetry too restrictive, so they wrote in free verse; both wrote in a personal style for ordinary and unconventional people about ordinary and unconventional subjects, rather than writing to academic critics about minimalist ideals and esoteric platitudes; both were considered obscene by their contemporary authorities; and both had their work banned.

Ginsberg's Language

In many respects, the long lines found in "Howl" and in many of Whitman's poems, such as "Song of Myself," reflect the personal urgency of "ordinary" spoken language. They are at once colloquial and intelligent, spontaneous and confessional. They are written the way people speak, in a populist language that people outside of academia can understand. Both Whitman's "Song of Myself" and Ginsberg's "Howl" are also written in first person, offering insights directly from the poet, rather than from an omniscient, disembodied voice. "Howl" begins: "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked". This famous first line captures the personal, immediate nature, of Ginsberg's poem, as well as the form that could contain his powerful descriptions of sex, drugs, music and visionary hope that follow.

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