A Comparison of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac

A Comparison of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac

Length: 1345 words (3.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
A Comparison of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac

   Why. Excuse me. Why. Does. Excuse. Why me. I mean. Excuse me. Why. Does. It . Always end up this way. Like this. A performance. It's my best excuse. And. I'm on the wagon. Again. Why. Excuses. Sitting in the state of a daydream. No. Falling. A performance. Why what it comes down to. Poetry. And. My two main men. Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. Both use their individual voice to perform the buddhistic beat they feel is part of their poetry/ their beatific movement. Even though these two poets influenced each other. And. Their voices are significantly different. Each has a personal style one cannot deny. And. Each boy added his separate beat to the music they created as a generation. A beat generation. Jack's buddhistic jazz/ blues chorus poetry is domesticized/ tainted Christianity-wise. And. Allen's sound becomes zentific without Christianity/ hanging on a cross in the backbeat of his prose poetry. While each may have his own personal style/ both poets use the same technique in sound. And. Rhythm to give their audience something to bugaloo to. Excuse me. What's. That. Poetry. Baby. A performance. So. Please brother. Take a chance. And. Dance. (She says that as she shh shh shivers.)

"It's all gotta be non stop ad libbing within each chorus, or the gig is shot" (Kerouac, 1). And he meant every word of it. Jack's system of jazz/blues choruses work on/carry on harmonically as well as through certain words or phrases put together through sound. And also like jazz, his music, seemed to happen spontaneously, like nothing was planned.  In the '182nd Chorus', the ideas behind the phrase "The Essence of Existence is Buddhahood" is carried on into the '183rd Chorus' with the phrase "This is the real Buddha" (Allen, 171). It is like a bar of music in a jazz or blues riff. The idea and sound of one chord moves into the next, traveling, never knowing where it is going to end up. Just like the idea and sound of one line in one of Jack's choruses moves into the next, traveling, never knowing where it is going to end up. It sounds and looks spontaneous.


And because of this it is meant to be preformed out loud so it can be heard like a jazz or blues riff wailing.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"A Comparison of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac." 123HelpMe.com. 19 Jan 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on Jack Kerouac's On the Road and Allen Ginsberg's Howl

- Jack Kerouac's On the Road and Allen Ginsberg's Howl Works Cited It was a 1951 TIME cover story, which dubbed the Beats a ‘Silent Generation, ’ that led to Allen Ginsberg’s retort in his poem ‘America,’ in which he vocalises a frustration at this loss of self- importance. The fifties Beat Generation, notably through Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and Allen Ginsberg’s Howl as will here be discussed, fought to revitalise individuality and revolutionise their censored society which seemed to produce everything for the masses at the expense of the individual’s creative and intellectual potential....   [tags: 1950 History Kerouac Ginsberg Howl Essays]

Research Papers
3844 words (11 pages)

The Individual Versus Society in Kerouac and Ginsberg Essay

- The Individual Versus Society in Kerouac and Ginsberg   One theme that is prevalent throughout much of the literature we have covered so far is that it is very critical of the conformist values of late 1950s society. In an era of Levittowns and supermarkets and the omnipresent television, there was a call to leave the conformist suburban culture in search of something higher. Two major proponents of the individual as opposed to society were Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, two of the central figures in the Beat movement....   [tags: Allen Ginsberg]

Research Papers
2207 words (6.3 pages)

A Comparison of Ginsberg and Kerouac Essay

- A Comparison of Ginsberg and Kerouac     The 1950s saw a period of great material prosperity in the United States. After World War II G.I.s came back to take charge of the family again. Women no longer had to work and could return to the home to nurse their newborn babies. Housing, automobiles, and white picket fences were in high demand. Televisions became commonplace, making possible the rapid distribution of visual information- not to mention the sitcom. McCarthy had started to purge the U.S....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Research Papers
1276 words (3.6 pages)

How Drugs Helped Allen Ginsberg to be Creative Essay

- After Ginsberg’s high school graduation in June of 1943 he immediately enrolled in Columbia University in New York City on a scholarship from the Young Men’s Hebrew Association in Paterson. In his early journals, he confessed that one of the primary reasons he applied to Columbia was because his secret crush, Paul Roth, had gone to Columbia a year earlier (Ginsberg). It was this secret, the proximity to his home in New Jersey, its credibility as a university, and the fact that it was his father’s alma mater that made Columbia Ginsberg’s first choice in colleges....   [tags: poetry, hallucinogens, spiritual journey]

Research Papers
1939 words (5.5 pages)

Analysis Of Allen Ginsberg 's ' Howl ' Essay

- Allen Ginsberg’s, “Howl”, was written 100 years later than Walt Whitman’s, “Song of Myself”. These two poems share similarities of speaking on America but in different time eras. Whitman’s poem inspired Ginsberg to write an extension of his poem by remixing it in a more angry and free willed way. By revising the style and the theme of Whitman’s poem, Ginsberg revisits and repurposes it with a strong expression of how much he disagrees with the judgmental American society he’s living in in a very obscene way while also embracing who he really is and not denying it....   [tags: Allen Ginsberg, Walt Whitman, Jack Kerouac]

Research Papers
1272 words (3.6 pages)

Essay on Resistance in Allen Ginsberg's Howl

- In Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”, the idea of resistance is present in multiple forms. On a thematic level, Ginsberg exploits the reasons the “best minds” of his generation are being destroyed (9). On a formal level, Ginsberg uses lengthy sentences to resist traditional styles of writing. Ginsberg was successful in his rebellion and gained substantial recognition; further supported by the fact he even had to fight for his freedom of expression in the court of law. As a whole, “Howl” has been a controversial poem (and eventually film) ever since the public laid eyes on it....   [tags: literary analysis, allen ginsberg]

Research Papers
922 words (2.6 pages)

Essay about Madness, By Allen Ginsberg

- Madness Consumes Us All Madness is a disease. It’s a disease that can exponentially consume the host and make them lose their minds overnight. Allen Ginsberg, a famous beat poet, was a victim to madness. Under his circumstances, it was a disease that was incurable. Ginsberg, along with the other famous beat poets of his time in the 1950s’, had a remedy to his madness which was what he did best, create poems. In his famous poem, Howl, he vividly and emotionally paints a picture of a horrifying time in his life in which he was consumed and destroyed by madness....   [tags: Allen Ginsberg, Howl, Beat Generation]

Research Papers
1101 words (3.1 pages)

Essay about Analysis of Allen Ginsberg's America

- Analysis of Allen Ginsberg's America What Allen Ginsberg did in 1955 was unthinkable. In the midst of McCarthyism and severe anticommunist sentiment, he wrote a poem in which he admitted having belonged to the Communist party. Yet, even more surprising was that he didn't stop there. In his poem "America," Allen Ginsberg challenges the beliefs and values that the United States has always cherished, leaving no stone unturned, and no feather unruffled. Always the cynic and revolutionary, Ginsberg slaughters the sacred cows....   [tags: Allen Ginsberg Communism Communist Papers]

Research Papers
1274 words (3.6 pages)

Essay on Allen Ginsberg's America

- Allen Ginsberg's America Through a careful interpretation of A Defense of Poetry by Percy Bysshe Shelley and Democratic Vistas by Walt Whitman, one can gain a holistic sense of poetry, what it is and what it does, that can be applied to literary texts of all times. One can better understand Allen Ginsberg's "America" through an examination of the aforementioned texts as well. The literary merit of the poem is best recognized through Walt Whitman's Democratic Vistas, although Percy Bysshe Shelley's A Defense of Poetry also contributes some very critical parallels to the poem and its characteristics....   [tags: Allen Ginsberg America Literature Essays]

Research Papers
2016 words (5.8 pages)

Essay on Allen Ginsberg's America

- Allen Ginsberg's America In Allen Ginsberg’s “America,” the speaker angrily blasts America in a one-sided argument. In this poem America is personified and is addressed by the speaker as if it were human. After calling himself America the speaker asks several rhetorical questions that make the reader think about America’s ethical and moral values while questioning its goals and ambitions. In essence, the speaker presents to the reader those unanswerable questions that neither himself nor him as America are able to answer....   [tags: Allen Ginsberg American Poetry Essays]

Research Papers
1693 words (4.8 pages)

Related Searches

On the page the writing looks sort of flat, lifeless, all written in columns. But for example, when read out loud by Allen on tape, or live, these words, these phrases come to life and build on each other. It's magic. It seems that Jack, through this piece in its entirety, was trying to show waves and waves and waves of beat. He wanted to show a ripple effect of jazz/blues. How it moves in and out, then expands taking over its own sound. Engulfing itself over and over again, just like when a rock hits the water after it has been thrown into the middle of a pond.


He uses Buddhism as a function (or motor vehicle) to embody and locate these jazz and blues riffs. He seems to make the connection between the rhythm of Buddhist language or talk and jazz/blues rhythms. The "e's" in "The Essence of Existence is Buddhahood" has a certain rhythm to it that Jack discovered and implemented into his blues chorus (171).


But in other choruses this picked up Buddhism is undercut, or tainted with the phrases and or beliefs of that mainly sound Christian. Jack was raised a catholic (and i believe he remained catholic all of his life), but his Catholicism was tainted with his discovery of the Zen poets, such as Li Po, and Buddhism itself. And in reverse, so were his choruses. In '219th chorus', it is plain to see Jack's Christian influences coming through.


Saints, I give myself up to thee.

Thou hast me. What mayest thou do?

What hast thou? Hast nothing?

Hast illusion. Hast race, regret . . .



Or when he says in the exact same chorus, he writes "The Devil giggles in his poorclothes" (173). Through these few lines in this chorus we see how Christianity had filtered its way through Jack's Buddhist screen and out into his writing style, domesticizing Buddhism. There is nothing wrong with this. For me, it is just how Jack saw the world, and its music to my ears when i hear these choruses being sung. Unlike Allen, Jack uses his Christian influence to connect with the rhythm of his choruses on a deeper level.


There is a good reason for this. Allen Ginsberg was raised Jewish and therefore did not have the same religious influences as Jack. But like Jack his religious back round also tends to taint his buddhistic perspective in his poetry. The influence of Judaism on Allen's poetry is amazing because of the direct separation between east and west arising in his poems. Allen's 'Sunflower Sutra', is an example of a poem more buddhistic in style, while his 'Kaddish' is considered more of reflective piece on his mother's death.


Another similarity between Jack and Allen is rhythm and sound. But Allen changes his beat up by writing his poetry in a prosy form. Instead of pounding it out in columns on a page, Allen decided to use the whole width of the page to place his poetry on. Compared to Jack's poems, the use of this style slows up the speed of Allen's poems itself, but there is still a rhythmic quality there that is hard to deny.


Jack Kerouac sat beside me on a busted rusty iron pole,

companion, we thought the same thoughts of the

soul, bleak

and blue and sad-eyed, surrounded by the

gnarled steel roots

of trees of machinery. (179)


In 'Sunflower Sutra', Allen concentrates more on the ideas being presented than following a blues or jazz riff to move it into another ripple. He locates this poem (as he does in most of his poetry) and tries to make it concrete by using descriptions such as "the oily water on the river mirrored by the red sky, sun sank on top of Frisco peaks . . . " while Jack's poetry is not as concrete but more abstract in its form (179). Allen does not seem to be interested in promoting Buddhism as a religion to follow. He seems to be using it more as a way to present how he feels about his situation as a beatnik (in a counter culture) watching the middle class of America become sick somnambulists (people he considered in the main stream) from the street through their picture windows all staring at televisions.


Even though Allen's poetry is more prosy than Jacks, Allen's poetry was also meant to be read out loud. Hearing him read his poem (or any of his poetry for that matter) 'America' on tape allows one to hear the magic and performance that Allen implemented in his poetry with his own voice. It also allows his audience to listen to his political stances against American ideals of that time. The sounds he makes while reading, with his literal voice is sweet, resonates and carries on a melody to the ear that is hard to forget. An "America I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel" while Jack's melody is sweet and smooth, not as direct attack (more obscure) on American ideals in his poetry.


One Two Three Four Five Six Seven. All good children go to heaven. Why. Excuses. Why me. Why. Does. It. Always end up this way. Like this. A beat. Ad libbing. Magic feeling. A performance. Or the gig is shot. Skinny trees and purple bees. Buzzing. A beat to show they were not deadly dancing to the tune of the satellite radio waves of the t.v. screens blaring. Or the gig woulda been shot. Each separately. Excuse me. Seriously brother listen. Heaven.


Works Cited

Kerouac, Jack. Book of Blues. San Francisco: Penguin Books Ltd., 1993. p. 1.

The New American Poetry/1945-1960. Edited by Donald Allen. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999. p. 168-201.
Return to 123HelpMe.com