Allen Ginsberg compared to F.T. Marinetti

Ginsberg (p. 1360)- “who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hypnotism & were left with their sanity & their hands & a hung jury”

Marinetti (p. 796)- “We will destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind, will fight moralism, feminism, every opportunistic or utilitarian cowardice.”

Despite a significant difference in length, Manifesto of Futurism and Howl have quite a bit in common. Both poems are explosive. They lead the reader to read them quickly and with energy. Neither poem loses momentum throughout their texts; they keep chugging along like a train on tracks. There are many techniques that are used in each poem in order to create this explosiveness and energy. These techniques allow for not only fast, invigorated paces, they also create a beat. One could imagine the texts becoming lyrics to rap songs. This rap song like quality is evidenced in the themes as well. These poems deal with societal, cultural themes and praise the advancement of citizens and challenging of norms.

One of the elements that is utilized in both poems is repetition. Marinetti starts 7 of 11 stanzas with the word “we.” And Ginsberg starts almost all the sections of Howl with unique repeated words or phrases. The one most comparable to Marinetti is the repetition of “who” in the first section. Both the poets not only repeat words, but the words also refer to people. They both emphasize the people who are changing the world or being put down the the evils of it. And not only are they repeating these words, but they both describe these people with active adjectives, nouns, and verbs. Along with being active the words are also often aggressive. This is one way they make the poems so fast and energetic. By using words like “revolt,” “ecstasy,” “blown,” and “radiant” the poets energize the reader. The reader is no longer just looking at the page, he is running through it.

Even though Howl is much longer than the Manifesto, because it employs the similar active language, every line, every word is full of intention. Nothing seems misplaced or worthy of being left out. There is a purpose and a point to be made in each stanza. This is another way that the texts can be seen in the light of rap music. Rap started with a group of people who wanted to acknowledge topics that were often ignored and show a different cultural point of view. Also, rap tends to be very aggressive just as these two poems are.

One thought on “Allen Ginsberg compared to F.T. Marinetti”

  1. I love your idea of Ginsberg and Marinetti’s pieces reading as rap music. Each line punches the reader with its message. Relating to your point on the specific use of the words “we” and “who”, I wonder at the significance of these particular words. Marinetti’s use of the word “we” forces the reader to immediately feel a part of his movement. Marinetti organizes a collective voice through use of the word “we”, and thus calls his readers to action. Alternatively, Ginsberg’s use of the word “who” does not immediately connect the reader to the subject matter. Ginsberg instead portrays multiple “who”s, and these “who”s collectively contribute to the identity of a common man. Though the reader can potentially relate to the descriptions of Ginsberg’s community, the reader does not feel a need for action until Ginsberg employs repetition of the word “Moloch”, a fire god. Subsequently, Ginsberg builds a connection between the narrator and the subjects he describes with the word “I’m”. As the narrator is the reader’s window into Ginsberg’s community, the word “I’m” serves to further connect the reader to the subject matter. With the word “holy” appealing to the reader’s inner conscience through religion connotations, the reader is ultimately left feeling a sense of community, purpose, and need for some sort of action. Marinetti and Ginsberg’s pieces superficially differ in length. Looking at the pieces as musical compositions, Marinetti forcefully drums a pulsating “we”, while Ginsberg takes his readers through a journey with his use of several beats: “who”, “Moloch”, “I’m”, and “holy”.

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