Best quotes by Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg

American poet and writer

Irwin Allen Ginsberg (June 3, 1926 – April 5, 1997) was an American poet and writer. As a student at Columbia University in the 1940s, he began friendships with William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, forming the core of the Beat Generation. He vigorously opposed militarism, economic materialism, and sexual repression, and he embodied various aspects of this counterculture with his views on drugs, sex, multiculturalism, hostility to bureaucracy, and openness to Eastern religions.

Ginsberg is best known for his poem "Howl", in which he denounced what he saw as the destructive forces of capitalism and conformity in the United States. San Francisco police and US Customs seized "Howl" in 1956, and it attracted widespread publicity in 1957 when it became the subject of an obscenity trial, as it described heterosexual and homosexual sex at a time when sodomy laws made (male) homosexual acts a crime in every state. The poem reflected Ginsberg's own sexuality and his relationships with a number of men, including Peter Orlovsky, his lifelong partner. Judge Clayton W. Horn ruled that "Howl" was not obscene, stating: "Would there be any freedom of press or speech if one must reduce his vocabulary to vapid innocuous euphemisms?"

Ginsberg was a Buddhist who extensively studied Eastern religious disciplines. He lived modestly, buying his clothing in second-hand stores and residing in apartments in New York City's East Village. One of his most influential teachers was Tibetan Buddhist Chögyam Trungpa, the founder of the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. At Trungpa's urging, Ginsberg and poet Anne Waldman started The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics there in 1974.

Ginsberg took part in decades of political protest against everything from the Vietnam War to the War on Drugs. His poem "September on Jessore Road" called attention to the plight of Bengali refugees which was caused by the 1971 Genocide and it exemplifies what literary critic Helen Vendler described as Ginsberg's persistence in protesting against "imperial politics" and "persecution of the powerless". His collection The Fall of America shared the annual National Book Award for Poetry in 1974. In 1979, he received the National Arts Club gold medal and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1995 for his book Cosmopolitan Greetings: Poems 1986–1992.

Allen Ginsberg quotes by category:

All CategoriesAbout beautyAbout scienceAbout healthAbout timeAbout warAbout loveAbout artAbout solitudeAbout Paris

LoveSolitudeThe weight of the world is love. Under the burden of solitude, under the burden of dissatisfaction.

TimeParisYou can't escape the past in Paris, and yet what's so wonderful about it is that the past and present intermingle so intangibly that it doesn't seem to burden.

ArtSince art is merely and ultimately self-expressive, we conclude that the fullest art, the most individual, uninfluenced, unrepressed, uninhibited expression of art is true expression and the true art.

ArtFortunately art is a community effort - a small but select community living in a spiritualized world endeavoring to interpret the wars and the solitudes of the flesh.

ArtMind is shapely, Art is shapely.

Beautyone must verge on the unknown, write toward the truth hitherto unrecognizable of one’s own sincerity, including the avoidable beauty of doom, shame, and embarrassment, that very area of personal self-recognition,(detailed individual is universal remember) which formal conventions, internalized, keep us from discovering in ourselves and others

WarWar is good business Invest your son.

WarThey [Nicaragua] haven't had elections because they are in a state of seige by the United States. They would have had elections if the U.S. had left them alone. But the U.S. has mounted a full scale war against them. So how can you ask them to behave normally?

WarWhat if someone gave a war and Nobody came?

HealthNow I have enough money to travel wherever I want, but I haven't got the health.

ScienceThere is nothing to be learned from history anymore. We're in science fiction now.

That's what the shaman said. He didn't know what he was up against. He didn't expect the strength and weight and evil intensity of this spirit, this "entity," as he called it. The same way the priest in an exorcism has to take on the spirit.

…we’re all beautiful golden sunflowers inside, we’re all blessed by our own seed & golden hairy naked accomplishment (Sunflower Sutra)

Things are symbols of themselves.

Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower O my soul, I loved you then!

Thank God I am not God! Thank God I am not God!

The apparition of an evil, sick unconscious wild city rose before me in visible semblance, and about the dead buildings in the barren air, the bodies of the soul that built the wonderland shuffled and stalked and stalked and lurched in attitudes of immemorial nightmare all around.

An unnoticed corner of the world suddenly becomes noticed, and when you notice something clearly and see it vividly, it becomes sacred. (On Robert Frank's photography)

This is the one and only firmament; therefore it is the absolute world. There is no other world. The circle is complete. I am living in Eternity. The ways of this world are the ways of Heaven.

Ultimately Warhol's private moral reference was to the supreme kitsch of the Catholic church.

My books piled up before me for my use waiting in space where I placed them, they haven't disappeared, time's left its remnants and qualities for me to use -- my words piled up, my texts, my manuscripts, my loves.

America, how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood?

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?

I know I'm not God, are you? Don't be silly. God? God? Everybody's God? Don't be silly.

I saw the best minds of my generation who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot for Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks fell on their heads every day for the next decade.

Strange now to think of you, gone without corsets & eyes, while I walk on the sunny pavement of Greenwich Village. downtown Manhattan, clear winter noon, and I've been up all night, talking, talking, reading the Kaddish aloud, listening to Ray Charles blues shout blind on the phonograph

This is the same notion - Catholic exorcism, psychotherapy, shamanistic practices - getting to the moment when whatever it was gained access. And also to the name of the spirit. Just to know that it's the Ugly Spirit. That's a great step. Because the spirit doesn't want its name to be known.

Last Exit to Brooklyn should explode like a rusty hellish bombshell over America and still be eagerly read in a hundred years.

Taxi September along Jessore Road Oxcart skeletons drag charcoal load past watery fields thru rain flood ruts Dung cakes on treetrunks, plastic-roof huts Wet processions Families walk Stunted boys big heads don't talk Look bony skulls & silent round eyes Starving black angels in human disguise.

Who’ll come lie down in the dark with me Belly to belly and knee to knee Who’ll look into my hooded eye Who’ll lie down under my darkened thigh?

The actual materials are important. A book at the nightstand is important - a light you can get at - or a flashlight as Kerouac had a brakeman's latern.

Inside skull vast as outside skull

The first person who really showed me the ugly spirit was Brion Gysin. "The ugly spirit shot Joan because . . ." and I never found out why. This Brion wrote out on a piece of paper in a sort of trance state.

Because systems of mass communication can communicate only officially acceptable levels of reality, no one can know the extent of the secret unconscious life. No one in America can know what will happen. No one is in real control.

Who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space through images juxtaposed, and trapped the archangel of the soul between 2 visual images and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun and dash of consciousness together jumping with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human prose and stand before you speechless and intelligent and shaking with shame

All these books are published in Heaven.

From it's inception Beat poetry was hailed as "something NEW" and "like all good spontaneous jazz, newness is acceptable and expected - by hip people who listen." But the newness of jazz has in it the echoes of J. S. Bach.

I've got enough money to live where I want, but I don't want to move.Go out and have sexual adventures in Burma.

America I used to be a communist when I was a kid and I'm not sorry.

You say what you want to say when you don't care who's listening. If you're grasping to get your own voice, you're making a strained attempt to talk, so it's a matter of just listening to yourself as you sound when you're talking about something that's intensely important to you.

The best thing about being famous is that it makes it easier to get laid.

Bob Dylan's one of the greatest blues singers of the western world; ancient art, on-the-spot improvisation, mind quickness, endless variation, classical formulae, prophetic vision, mighty wind-horse.

what sphinx of cement and aluminium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination

[William Butler] Yeats has the phrase Hodos Chameliontos, chameleon-like, in that you don't know where the beginning or the middle or the end is, so it's an unrelieved hallucination, because you don't know where you're coming in and you don't know where you're going out. It ends, you're going into the hallucination, or maybe coming out of it, I don't know.

We are all exposed to the flash bulb of death.

It's time we did something to assert ourselves. After all, we do comprise 10% of the population.

Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies! gone down the American river! Dreams! adorations! illumnations! religions! the whole boatload of sensitive bullshit!

who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism

The desire to have power dissolves. The desire to dominate people for love dissolves. On the other hand, it's a relief to realize you can let go.

To get on screen with the Talking Asshole, quite a feat. And it's certainly going to be a cult film that people will be seeing.

Presumably, if you see spirit at the moment it gained access, then it'll be dropped.

I like the image of The Old Man and the Sea, of striving and succeeding but finding that the success was ghost success. In other words, in the long run, after a certain age, the motives for success, pride or oppressing people or getting power.

If you want to make order, put your own heart in order, and, having put one's heart in order, one can regulate the family order.

Tell your secrets. [In reply to the question "How does one become a prophet?"]

I am learning by the week, but my poesy is still not my own. New rhyme, new me me me in words. I am not all this carven rhetoric.

I want to be a saint, a real saint while I am young, for there is so much work to do.

I want people to bow as they see me and say he is gifted with poetry, he has seen the presence of the creator.

he threw up his hands and wrote the Universe dont exist and died to prove it

I'm an old man now, and a lonesome man in Kansas / but not afraid / to speak my lonesomeness in a car, / because not only my lonesomeness / it's Ours, all over America, / O tender fellows --/ & spoken lonesomeness is Prophecy / in the moon 100 years ago or in / the middle of Kansas now.

I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel?

Who can live with this Consciousness and not wake frightened at sunrise?

Naked in solitary prison cell he looks down at a hard-on.

Many seek and never see, anyone can tell them why. O they weep and O they cry and never take until they try unless they try it in their sleep and never some until they die. I ask many, they ask me. This is a great mystery.

What is obscenity? And to whom?

The Rolling Stones were an inkling towards an appreciation of the unity of music, dance and words. Any of the black R&B people who had a stage show that involved dancing, music and words did the same thing, except that I thought Jagger's words were good, his music was good and his dancing was good. I spoke to him about Blake and tried to get him to sing [William] Blake's The Grey Monk, to use his words as lyrics. He didn't do it. In the end, I did it myself.

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber,poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys. I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel?

You can't photograph everything.

Subject is known by what she sees.

When it snows in your nose, you catch cold in your brain.

No monster vibration, no snake universe hallucinations. Many tiny jeweled violet flowers along the path of a living brook that looked like Blake's illustration for a canal in grassy Eden: huge Pacific watery shore, Orlovsky dancing naked like Shiva long-haired before giant green waves, titanic cliffs that Wordsworth mentioned in his own Sublime, great yellow sun veiled with mist hanging over the planet's oceanic horizon. No harm.

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whit- man, 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 enumerations!

A naked lunch is natural to us We eat reality sandwiches. But allegories are so much lettuce. Don't hide the madness.

Recent history is the record of one vast conspiracy to impose one level of mechanical consciousness on mankind.

How sick i am! that thought Always comes to me with horror. Is it this strange for everybody? But such fugitive feelings have always been my metier.

The typewriter is holy the poem is holy the voice is holy the hearers are holy the ecstacy is holy!