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by Allen Ginsberg

Howl Rules and Order Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (line)

Quote #1

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 (lines 6-7)

Down with school! Down with school! The speaker feels that universities are implicated in modern warfare, perhaps because of their role in creating new technologies like the Hydrogen Bomb. Their "cool eyes" express skepticism and aloofness.

Quote #2

who got busted in their pubic beards returning through Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York (line 9)

It's hard to tell whether or not the speaker approves of such illegal activities. Historical side note: marijuana was still a relatively new drug problem in the 1950s, and the government was just beginning to decide how to deal with it.

Quote #3

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 incomprehensible 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 (lines 30-32)

Howl is full of ironic depictions of a world turned upside-down, where madmen accuse doctors of insanity and average citizens investigate the investigators (the F.B.I.).

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