Allen Ginsberg

Ginsberg, as if to allay any doubt,  begins his poem with the words:

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for

I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache

self-conscious looking at the full moon.

In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went

into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumeration’s!

What peaches and what penumbras!  Whole families

shopping at night!  Aisles full of husbands!  Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!–and you, Garcia Lorca, what

were you doing down by the watermelons?

Clearly, Ginsberg is both mocking and drawing upon the inspiration of Whitman, not only in his words and imaginative actions throughout the poem, but in his style.  The poem is a list of images, of associations, which build upon each other to create the poem.  Likewise the repeated use of explanation marks, question marks, and the lack of a line break pattern, all add to Ginsberg’s allusion to Whitman.

Here is a reading by Allen Ginsberg, with accompanying video:

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