Study Guide

America What's Up With the Title?

By Allen Ginsberg

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What's Up With the Title?

America. It's one word — just four little syllables—but it says a lot.

That word contains history, politics, the lives of millions of individuals who have gone before our speaker and who are yet to be. For him, it's both an ideal (of freedom, democracy, and the right to pursue happiness) and a not-so-awesome reality (it's war-torn, bothersome, and most definitely not angelic).

See, according to our speaker, the pursuit of happiness for some often has dire consequences for others. How can that be? Well, if America had a Facebook page, its status would be "It's complicated." That's a big reason why this one-word, simple title is perfect for Ginsberg's poem.

He dives headfirst into the big, messy, complicated madhouse that is his America, and he also recognizes that, in doing so, he's also diving into himself. It may not seem like the most profound title ever, but just a bit of digging (as this poem shows) reveals that there's so much to uncover about that word.

In this poem, Ginsberg's imagination rolls up its sleeves, and gets to work.

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