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by Allen Ginsberg

Howl Madness Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (line)

Quote #7

I'm with you in Rockland where you imitate the shade of my mother (lines 97-98)

A "shade" is a ghost or spirit. Ginsberg's mother had died at this point, but the speaker sees in eerie connection between his mother and Solomon. For the speaker, it's a distressing case of history repeating itself.

Quote #8

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 (lines 104-107)

Although Solomon and Ginsberg both spent time at a psychiatric hospital together, these lines give the impression that Solomon was much more unstable than Ginsberg. Nonetheless, the speaker thinks that his friend doesn't belong in a "madhouse" in part because it resembles a prison or military facility, which is "armed." Solomon thinks of himself as a political dissident.

Quote #9

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 collapse 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 (lines 131-134)

Is Solomon in a "coma," or is this word just a metaphor? At any rate, the poem ends with the image of the patient breaking out of the hospital like the members of some renegade army with "skinny legions" of soldiers. Also, the speaker never loses his sense of humor and helpfully points out that the prisoners aren't wearing any underwear.

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