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by Allen Ginsberg

Howl Visions of America Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (line)

Quote #4

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 unemployment 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 (lines 44-45)

New York City is definitely the heart of this poem. Even when it makes side-trips to the Midwest and the West Coast, it always returns to the Big Apple. New York is an urban jungle in this poem, full of both excitement and danger, a place where you "wake up," disoriented after a long drinking spree.

Quote #5

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 (lines 59-61)

. …And Denver is the heart of the Beat movement (along, perhaps, with San Francisco). Ginsberg's friend and sometime lover Neal Cassady grew up in Denver, and it was a place to refuel and stock up during long cross-country road-trips. As in Kerouac's On the Road, Howl shows that taking to the highway could be a spiritual experience.

Quote #6

Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unob tainable dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks! (line 80)

In the second section, the poem shifts toward a decisive negative portrait of America, as characterized by Moloch.

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