Howl


I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness…
from Howl, Part 1 by Allen Ginsberg

I saw a trailer for a documentary about Allen Ginsberg, teasing with the quote from his famous Howl. An audio-sample and the text can be found at poets.org.

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
       madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
       looking for an angry fix,

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
       connection to the starry dynamo in the machin-
       ery of night,

who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat
       up smoking in the supernatural darkness of
       cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities
       contemplating jazz,

who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and
       saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tene-
       ment roofs illuminated,

who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes
       hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy
       among the scholars of war,

who were expelled from the academies for crazy &
       publishing obscene odes on the windows of the
       skull,

who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burn-
       ing their money in wastebaskets and listening
       to the Terror through the wall,

who got busted in their pubic beards returning through
       Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,

who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in
       Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their
       torsos night after night

with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, al-
       cohol and cock and endless balls,

incomparable blind; streets of shuddering cloud and
       lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of
       Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the mo-
       tionless world of Time between,

Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery
       dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops,
       storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon
       blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree
       vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brook-
       lyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind,

who chained themselves to subways for the endless
       ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine
       until the noise of wheels and children brought
       them down shuddering mouth-wracked and
       battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance
       in the drear light of Zoo,

who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford's
       floated out and sat through the stale beer after
       noon in desolate Fugazzi's, listening to the crack
       of doom on the hydrogen jukebox,

who talked continuously seventy hours from park to
       pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brook-
       lyn Bridge,

lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping
       down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills
       off Empire State out of the moon,

yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts
       and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks
       and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars,

whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days
       and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the
       Synagogue cast on the pavement,

who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a
       trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic
       City Hall,

suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grind-
       ings and migraines of China under junk-with-
       drawal in Newark's bleak furnished room,

who wandered around and around at midnight in the
       railroad yard wondering where to go, and went,
       leaving no broken hearts,

who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing
       through snow toward lonesome farms in grand-
       father night,

More at poets.org.