Analysis of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl"

868 words 4 pages
Rachel Weston
English 125
November 30, 2009

Time, Terror, Heaven and Eternity

Allen Ginsberg’s revolutionary poem, Howl, is a powerful portrayal of life degraded. It represents the harsh life of the beat generation and chronicles the struggles of the repressed. Howl is a poem of destruction. Destruction of mind, body, and soul through the oppression of the individual. Using powerful diction, Allen Ginsberg describes this abolition of life and its implications through our human understanding of abstractions like Time, Eternity, and self. The poem’s jumbled phrasing and drastic emotion seems to correspond with the minds of the people it describes. Ginsberg uses surprisingly precise and purposeful writing to weave the complex
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In this particular poem, the words Time, Terror, Heaven, and Eternity are capitalized throughout. By emphasizing these words, Ginsberg is heightening their importance and giving the words a meaning beyond the standard definition. For example, Ginsberg writes of people “who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot for Eternity outside of Time, and alarm clocks fell on their heads every day for the next decade.”In this phrase, Eternity and Time are forces that are connected yet pulling on each other. It is implying that we cannot escape time and its strengthening grasp on our beliefs. People put their faith in the future and eternity only to be “hit by the reality of the present. The capitalization of Eternity and Time in this sentence gives the two words a sense of body and highlights their comparison.
At the end of part I, Ginsberg weaves his religious and abstract imagery into a description of writing as a mode of spirituality in itself.

“who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time and Space through images juxtaposed, and trapped the archangel of the soul between two visual images and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun and dash of consciousness together jumping with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Dens.”
In these paragraphs, Ginsberg again uses powerful diction to show the grandeur of writing as it was or could be. There is also the same connection between Time and Space,