Study Guide

America Dissatisfaction

By Allen Ginsberg

Dissatisfaction

America I've given you all and now I'm nothing. (1)

Right out of the chute, we are introduced to a speaker who has hit bottom. He's given everything to his country, and all he has to show for his devotion is a nice big cup of nuthin'. This sets up his dissatisfaction with the country, which will carry through the remainder of the poem.

I don't feel good don't bother me. (6)

In case you didn't realize it from line 1, our speaker's not having the best day. Notice how these two complete sentences are jammed together without a period break? The two ideas run into each other the way they would if you heard someone speak them aloud, in a mumbling, sulky, and dissatisfied voice.

America when will you be angelic? (8)

Jeez, America! Really. Is being angelic too much to ask? Okay, well maybe it's a bit of a challenge to sprout wings and become pure in spirit, but really what the speaker is after is a better, fairer, more just country to live in. It's crucial to notice that he asks when this will happen, and not why it won't ever happen. So he seems to suggest that there may be an end to his dissatisfaction with the country—someday, anyway.

I'm sick of your insane demands. (14)

This sounds like something you would say in the middle of a heated argument, which, in fact, is exactly what the speaker is having with his country. His dissatisfaction has come to a boil, and he has had it up to his bushy beard (seriously, Al, you might want to trim that thing) with the way his country is behaving.

Your machinery is too much for me. (17)

In this line we get the speaker's dissatisfaction in a nutshell. The country's "machinery"—its unfeeling systems of government and society—is just too much for the speaker to handle. He can't take it anymore, which is why, we're guessing, Ginsberg wrote the poem in the first place.

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