Thursday, January 28, 2010

"America" and "In the Baggage Room at Greyhound"

America by Allen Ginsberg was a strange poem, but I guess I have come to realize that everything Allen Ginsberg writes is going to be a bit odd. I'm not sure I really know what to think after reading this. I don't care for his writing because it doesn't seem to follow any logic. It seems like he threw as many random thoughts together as he could as long as they were somewhat tied to his idea of America. Perhaps when he wrote this he was high on the marijuana that he smokes every chance he gets as it says in the middle of page 40. It's very possible...some people seem to get philosophical when they smoke weed. Anyway, this poem was a bit hard to understand, not only because it was seemingly randomly strung together, but also because it had a lot of political references and references to things that were current events in 1956 when it was written. The number of things that I would have to research to understand what he was talking about in this poem was at least in the double digits...I counted. The overall tone of the poem is sarcastic and satirical. There are parts where he seems bitter and angry and parts where he just seems to be rambling. He starts out talking about himself and how America has gotten him nothing and all the things he hates about this country. He makes several references to the fact that he was brought up communist, which I suppose is why he doesn't like this country. Then in the middle of page 41 he says "It occurs to me that I am America. I am talking to myself again." Then he switches to America's point of view for the rest of the page. He abruptly switches back to himself at the top of page 42 and starts talking about his strophes. I suppose that is one way to describe his poetic style. On page 43, he begins to talk in a way that would suggest he is not fluent in English, like the perspective of a foreigner. He starts referring to things as Him and Her, leading me to believe that Her is Communist Russia, and Him is bureaucratic America. Then he asks for help as if he doesn't like the idea of either one of them. Like I said, I don't really know what to think about this poem.

In the Baggage Room at Greyhound made more sense, mostly because it was more of a story. There were still a few things I do not quite understand from it. The last line in particular is puzzling: "and built my pectoral muscles big as vagina". I don't really understand why he would say that because it really just doesn't make any sense to me. Perhaps he compares all vagina to a muscular set of pecs: strong and intimidating. Maybe that's why he is a homosexual. Although you'd think if you were a gay man who compared a vagina to a set of muscular pecs, that vagina would look pretty good to you wouldn't it? Anyway, apparently he used to work for Greyhound at a bus terminal and he is describing all of the things that he is seeing throughout the day. There is some deeper meaning involving the luggage racks and eternity and God and his thoughts, but I have read through it all about four times and I still can't quite get what he is trying to say. As he did so many times in America, he makes a reference to himself being a communist at the bottom of page 47. He is saying he works long and hard and doesn't have much to show for it...and I guess he thinks communism would change that. He should go live somewhere else and be a real communist rather than sit here and complain about how awful his life and this country are. His poetry and overall outlook on life are about as queer as he is. Sorry but I did not care much for these poems.

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