HOWL by Allen Ginsberg


                    For Carl Solomon 

                           I 

       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, 
       who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telep- 
              athy and bop kabbalah because the cosmos in- 
              stinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas, 
       who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking vis- 
              ionary indian angels who were visionary indian 
              angels, 
       who thought they were only mad when Baltimore 
              gleamed in supernatural ecstasy, 
       who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Okla- 
              homa on the impulse of winter midnight street 
              light smalltown rain, 
       who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston 
              seeking jazz or sex or soup, and followed the 
              brilliant Spaniard to converse about America 
              and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so took ship 
              to Africa, 
       who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving 
              behind nothing but the shadow of dungarees 
              and the lava and ash of poetry scattered in fire 
              place Chicago, 
       who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the 
              F.B.I. in beards and shorts with big pacifist 
              eyes sexy in their dark skin passing out incom- 
              prehensible leaflets, 
       who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting 
              the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism, 
       who distributed Supercommunist pamphlets in Union 
              Square weeping and undressing while the sirens 
              of Los Alamos wailed them down, and wailed 
              down Wall, and the Staten Island ferry also 
              wailed, 
       who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked 
              and trembling before the machinery of other 
              skeletons, 
       who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight 
              in policecars for committing no crime but their 
              own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication, 
       who howled on their knees in the subway and were 
              dragged off the roof waving genitals and manu- 
              scripts, 
       who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly 
              motorcyclists, and screamed with joy, 
       who blew and were blown by those human seraphim, 
              the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean 
              love, 
       who balled in the morning in the evenings in rose 
              gardens and the grass of public parks and 
              cemeteries scattering their semen freely to 
              whomever come who may, 
       who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up 
              with a sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath 
              when the blond & naked angel came to pierce 
              them with a sword, 
       who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate 
              the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar 
              the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb 
              and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but 
              sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden 
              threads of the craftsman's loom, 
       who copulated ecstatic and insatiate with a bottle of 
              beer a sweetheart a package of cigarettes a can- 
              dle and fell off the bed, and continued along 
              the floor and down the hall and ended fainting 
              on the wall with a vision of ultimate cunt and 
              come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness, 
       who sweetened the snatches of a million girls trembling 
              in the sunset, and were red eyed in the morning 
              but prepared to sweeten the snatch of the sun 
              rise, flashing buttocks under barns and naked 
              in the lake, 
       who went out whoring through Colorado in myriad 
              stolen night-cars, N.C., secret hero of these 
              poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver-joy 
              to the memory of his innumerable lays of girls 
              in empty lots & diner backyards, moviehouses' 
              rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or with 
              gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely pet- 
              ticoat upliftings & especially secret gas-station 
              solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys too, 
       who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in 
              dreams, woke on a sudden Manhattan, and 
              picked themselves up out of basements hung 
              over with heartless Tokay and horrors of Third 
              Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to unemploy- 
              ment offices, 
       who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on 
              the snowbank docks waiting for a door in the 
              East River to open to a room full of steamheat 
              and opium, 
       who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment 
              cliff-banks of the Hudson under the wartime 
              blue floodlight of the moon & their heads shall 
              be crowned with laurel in oblivion, 
       who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested 
              the crab at the muddy bottom of the rivers of 
              Bowery, 
       who wept at the romance of the streets with their 
              pushcarts full of onions and bad music, 
       who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the 
              bridge, and rose up to build harpsichords in 
              their lofts, 
       who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned 
              with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded 
              by orange crates of theology, 
       who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty 
              incantations which in the yellow morning were 
              stanzas of gibberish, 
       who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht 
              & tortillas dreaming of the pure vegetable 
              kingdom, 
       who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for 
              an egg, 
       who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot 
              for Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks 
              fell on their heads every day for the next decade, 
       who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccess- 
              fully, gave up and were forced to open antique 
              stores where they thought they were growing 
              old and cried, 
       who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits 
              on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse 
              & the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments 
              of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the 
              fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of sinis- 
              ter intelligent editors, or were run down by the 
              drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality, 
       who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually hap- 
              pened and walked away unknown and forgotten 
              into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alley 
              ways & firetrucks, not even one free beer, 
       who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of 
              the subway window, jumped in the filthy Pas- 
              saic, leaped on negroes, cried all over the street, 
              danced on broken wineglasses barefoot smashed 
              phonograph records of nostalgic European 
              1930s German jazz finished the whiskey and 
              threw up groaning into the bloody toilet, moans 
              in their ears and the blast of colossal steam 
              whistles, 
       who barreled down the highways of the past journeying 
              to each other's hotrod-Golgotha jail-solitude 
              watch or Birmingham jazz incarnation, 
       who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out 
              if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had 
              a vision to find out Eternity, 
       who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who 
              came back to Denver & waited in vain, who 
              watched over Denver & brooded & loned in 
              Denver and finally went away to find out the 
              Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes, 
       who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying 
              for each other's salvation and light and breasts, 
              until the soul illuminated its hair for a second, 
       who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for 
              impossible criminals with golden heads and the 
              charm of reality in their hearts who sang sweet 
              blues to Alcatraz, 
       who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky 
              Mount to tender Buddha or Tangiers to boys 
              or Southern Pacific to the black locomotive or 
              Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the 
              daisychain or grave, 
       who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hyp 
              notism & were left with their insanity & their 
              hands & a hung jury, 
       who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturers on Dadaism 
              and subsequently presented themselves on the 
              granite steps of the madhouse with shaven heads 
              and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding in- 
              stantaneous lobotomy, 
       and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin 
              Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psycho- 
              therapy occupational therapy pingpong & 
              amnesia, 
       who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic 
              pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia, 
       returning years later truly bald except for a wig of 
              blood, and tears and fingers, to the visible mad 
              man doom of the wards of the madtowns of the 
              East, 
       Pilgrim State's Rockland's and Greystone's foetid 
              halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul, rock- 
              ing and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench 
              dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a night- 
              mare, bodies turned to stone as heavy as the 
              moon, 
       with mother finally ******, and the last fantastic book 
              flung out of the tenement window, and the last 
              door closed at 4. A.M. and the last telephone 
              slammed at the wall in reply and the last fur- 
              nished room emptied down to the last piece of 
              mental furniture, a yellow paper rose twisted 
              on a wire hanger in the closet, and even that 
              imaginary, nothing but a hopeful little bit of 
              hallucination 
       ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and 
              now you're really in the total animal soup of 
              time 
       and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed 
              with a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use 
              of the ellipse the catalog the meter & the vibrat- 
              ing plane, 
       who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space 
              through images juxtaposed, and trapped the 
              archangel of the soul between 2 visual images 
              and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun 
              and dash of consciousness together jumping 
              with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna 
              Deus 
       to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human 
              prose and stand before you speechless and intel- 
              ligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet con- 
              fessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm 
              of thought in his naked and endless head, 
       the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown, 
              yet putting down here what might be left to say 
              in time come after death, 
       and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in 
              the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the 
              suffering of America's naked mind for love into 
              an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone 
              cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio 
       with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered 
              out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand 
              years. 

                           II 

       What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open 
              their skulls and ate up their brains and imagi- 
              nation? 
       Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unob 
              tainable dollars! Children screaming under the 
              stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men 
              weeping in the parks! 
       Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the 
              loveless! Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy 
              judger of men! 
       Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the 
              crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of 
              sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgment! 
              Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stun- 
              ned governments! 
       Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose 
              blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers 
              are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a canni- 
              bal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking 
              tomb! 
       Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows! 
              Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long 
              streets like endless Jehovahs! Moloch whose fac- 
              tories dream and croak in the fog! Moloch whose 
              smokestacks and antennae crown the cities! 
       Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch 
              whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch 
              whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch 
              whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen! 
              Moloch whose name is the Mind! 
       Moloch in whom I sit lonely! Moloch in whom I dream 
              Angels! Crazy in Moloch! Cocksucker in 
              Moloch! Lacklove and manless in Moloch! 
       Moloch who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom 
              I am a consciousness without a body! Moloch 
              who frightened me out of my natural ecstasy! 
              Moloch whom I abandon! Wake up in Moloch! 
              Light streaming out of the sky! 
       Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! 
              skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic 
              industries! spectral nations! invincible mad 
              houses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs! 
       They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pave- 
              ments, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to 
              Heaven which exists and is everywhere about 
              us! 
       Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies! 
              gone down the American river! 
       Dreams! adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole 
              boatload of sensitive bullshit! 
       Breakthroughs! over the river! flips and crucifixions! 
              gone down the flood! Highs! Epiphanies! De- 
              spairs! Ten years' animal screams and suicides! 
              Minds! New loves! Mad generation! down on 
              the rocks of Time! 
       Real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the 
              wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade farewell! 
              They jumped off the roof! to solitude! waving! 
              carrying flowers! Down to the river! into the 
              street! 

                           III

       Carl Solomon! I'm with you in Rockland 
              where you're madder than I am 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where you must feel very strange 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where you imitate the shade of my mother 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where you've murdered your twelve secretaries 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where you laugh at this invisible humor 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where we are great writers on the same dreadful 
              typewriter 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where your condition has become serious and 
              is reported on the radio 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where the faculties of the skull no longer admit 
              the worms of the senses 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where you drink the tea of the breasts of the 
              spinsters of Utica 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where you pun on the bodies of your nurses the 
              harpies of the Bronx 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where you scream in a straightjacket that you're 
              losing the game of the actual pingpong of the 
              abyss 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where you bang on the catatonic piano the soul 
              is innocent and immortal it should never die 
              ungodly in an armed madhouse 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where fifty more shocks will never return your 
              soul to its body again from its pilgrimage to a 
              cross in the void 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where you accuse your doctors of insanity and 
              plot the Hebrew socialist revolution against the 
              fascist national Golgotha 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where you will split the heavens of Long Island 
              and resurrect your living human Jesus from the 
              superhuman tomb 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where there are twenty-five-thousand mad com- 
              rades all together singing the final stanzas of the Internationale 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where we hug and kiss the United States under 
              our bedsheets the United States that coughs all 
              night and won't let us sleep 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where we wake up electrified out of the coma 
              by our own souls' airplanes roaring over the 
              roof they've come to drop angelic bombs the 
              hospital illuminates itself imaginary walls col- 
              lapse O skinny legions run outside O starry 
              spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is 
              here O victory forget your underwear we're 
              free 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea- 
              journey on the highway across America in tears 
              to the door of my cottage in the Western night 

                                


        
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Last modified: 5/16/06