“[T]o recreate the syntax and measure of poor human prose and stand before you speechless and intelligent and shaking with / shame, rejected yet confessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm of thought in his naked and endless head, / the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown, yet putting down here what might be left to say in time come after / death,” (1).
In the last 23 lines or so of Part 1 of Ginsberg’s Poem, Ginsberg seems to “lose his steam” a little. The above 4 lines are included in these last lines and they portray a shift in the poem. Until this point, Ginsberg tended to follow a certain pattern, in that he would begin a new line with “who…” and that first line would be enjambed, followed by about 1-3 enjambed lines until right before the next “who…” and that line right before would be an end stop line. In my opinion, Ginsberg is purposely separating the lines into little groupings and allowing some pause in between ideas. However, towards the end Ginsberg veers from this pattern and in this instance noted above, he actually begins a line with “to recreate” instead of “who…” For me, this is kind of the point when the reader tunes back in to the poem because until this point Ginsberg seemed to be on some sort of rant, an endless stream of words from his consciousness. By Ginsberg breaking away from the pattern, he makes us pay close attention here and focus on what is being said.
So what is he saying here? I view these lines as Ginsberg’s self-disclosure. Ginsberg writes, “to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human prose…” and indeed, in this poem, Ginsberg breaks away from earlier forms of poetry, there is no clear meter, etc. and in essence, he recreates what prose has meant until now. Also, Ginsberg writes, the speaker is standing before the audience (the “you”) and “confessing out the soul,” and again, this is in line with what Ginsberg is indeed doing in this poem- he is confessing, he is revealing himself. In this line, “confessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm of thought in his naked and endless head,” he makes it sound as if he has a certain obligation to listen to his thoughts and emotions and follow them. It’s also interesting that Ginsberg implies that he is doing all this so that what needs to be said, “what might be left to say in time come after/death,” is recorded. Again, it’s as if Ginsberg feels obligated to reveal all before it’s too late. Taking a look at these lines once more, there are some very much raw emotions here, further evidence that this is Ginsberg revealing his very self. He says he feels “shame,” “rejected,” he calls himself a “madman bum,” and lastly, there is also a sense of that which is “unknown” here.
2 Questions for the class:
- If you agree that these lines contain a self-disclosure form Ginsberg, what further evidence is there here to support this point (that I have not already mentioned)?
- If you disagree, what then is Ginsberg addressing here? What evidence do you have to support your claim?