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Howl

Howl

by Allen Ginsberg

Freedom and Confinement Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery 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, (lines 103-104)

Despite their poverty, the hipsters attain a measure of freedom in their imaginations. In their minds, they are "floating." They seek unity with nature and the ecstasy of music.

Quote #2

who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic City Hall,
suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grindings and migraines of China under junk-withdrawal in Newark's bleak furnished room (lines 20-21)

Not being tied down by oppressive jobs or social obligations, they can drop everything and skip town for weeks on end. But they might still be slaves to drug addiction, as they undergo the painful symptoms of withdrawal after trying to quit.

Quote #3

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 (lines 28-29)

Freedom for the Beat movement was tied up with the ability to travel widely around the country and the world. They can leave without a trace and resurface months or even years later with a lifetime's worth of stories to tell. That, at least, is the romantic vision of the Beats.

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