Irwin Allen Ginsberg was an American poet whose work can be considered a culmination of modernist poetry.
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Famous Allen Ginsberg Poems
I walked on the banks of the tincan banana dock and sat down under the huge shade of a Southern Pacific locomotive to look for the sunset over the box house hills and cry.
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.
The only water on the river mirrored the red sky, sun sank on top of final Frisco peaks, no fish in that stream, no hermit in those mounts, just ourselves rheumy-eyed and hung-over like old bums on the riverbank, tired and wily.
Look at the Sunflower, he said, there was a dead gray shadow against the sky, big as a man, sitting dry on top of a pile of ancient sawdust–
–I rushed up enchanted–it was my first sunflower, memories of Blake–my visions–Harlem
and Hells of the Eastern rivers, bridges clanking Joes greasy Sandwiches, dead baby carriages, black treadless tires forgotten and unretreaded, the poem of the riverbank, condoms & pots, steel knives, nothing stainless, only the dank muck and the razor-sharp artifacts passing into the past–
and the gray Sunflower poised against the sunset, crackly bleak and dusty with the sm*t and smog and smoke of olden locomotives in its eye–
corolla of bleary spikes pushed down and broken like a battered crown, seeds fallen out of its face, soon-to-be-toothless mouth of sunny air, sunrays obliterated on its hairy head like a dried wire spiderweb,
leaves stuck out like arms out of the stem, gestures from the sawdust root, broke pieces of plaster fallen out of the black twigs, a dead fly in its ear,
Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower O my soul, I loved you then!
The grime was no man’s grime but death and human locomotives,
all that dress of dust, that veil of darkened railroad skin, that smog of cheek, that eyelid of black mis’ry, that sooty hand or phallus or protuberance of artificial worse-than-dirt–industrial–modern–all that civilization spotting your crazy golden crown–
and those blear thoughts of death and dusty loveless eyes and ends and withered roots below, in the home-pile of sand and sawdust, rubber dollar bills, skin of machinery, the guts and innards of the weeping coughing car, the empty lonely tincans with their rusty tongues alack, what more could I name, the smoked ashes of some c*ck cigar, the c*nts of wheelbarrows and the milky breasts of cars, wornout ass*s out of chairs & sphincters of dynamos–all these
entangled in your mummied roots–and you standing before me in the sunset, all your glory in your form!
A perfect beauty of a sunflower! a perfect excellent lovely sunflower existence! a sweet natural eye to the new hip moon, woke up alive and excited grasping in the sunset shadow sunrise golden monthly breeze!
How many flies buzzed round you innocent of your grime, while you cursed the heavens of your railroad and your flower soul?
Poor dead flower? when did you forget you were a flower? when did you look at your skin and decide you were an impotent dirty old locomotive? the ghost of a locomotive? the specter and shade of a once powerful mad American locomotive?
You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a sunflower!
And you Locomotive, you are a locomotive, forget me not!
So I grabbed up the skeleton thick sunflower and stuck it at my side like a scepter,
and deliver my sermon to my soul, and Jack’s soul too, and anyone who’ll listen,
–We’re not our skin of grime, we’re not our dread bleak dusty imageless locomotive, we’re all golden sunflowers inside, blessed by our own seed & hairy naked accomplishment-bodies growing into mad black formal sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by our eyes under the shadow of the mad locomotive riverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening sitdown vision.
The weight of the world
Under the burden
under the burden
the weight we carry
Who can deny?
looks out of the heart
burning with purity–
for the burden of life
but we carry the weight
and so must rest
in the arms of love
must rest in the arms
be mad or chill
obsessed with angels
the final wish
–cannot be bitter,
the weight is too heavy
for no return
in all the excellence
of its excess.
The warm bodies
in the darkness,
the hand moves
to the center
of the flesh,
the skin trembles
and the soul comes
joyful to the eye–
I always wanted,
I always wanted,
to the body
where I was born.
I hope my good old assh*l* holds out
60 years it’s been mostly OK
Tho in Bolivia a fissure operation
survived the altiplano hospital–
a little blood, no polyps, occasionally
a small hemorrhoid
active, eager, receptive to phallus
coke bottle, candle, carrot
banana & fingers –
Now AIDS makes it shy, but still
eager to serve –
out with the dumps, in with the condom’d
orgasmic friend –
still rubbery muscular,
unashamed wide open for joy
But another 20 years who knows,
old folks got troubles everywhere –
necks, prostates, stomachs, joints–
Hope the old hole stays young
till death, relax
Velocity Of Money
I’m delighted by the velocity of money as it whistles through the windows
of Lower East Side
Delighted by skyscrapers rising the old grungy apartments falling on
Delighted by inflation that drives me out on the street
After all what good’s the family farm, why eat turkey by thousands every
Why not have Star Wars? Why have the same old America?!?
George Washington wasn’t good enough! Tom Paine pain in the neck,
Whitman what a jerk!
I’m delighted by double digit interest rates in the Capitalist world
I always was a communist, now we’ll win
an usury makes the walls thinner, books thicker & dumber
Usury makes my poetry more valuable
my manuscripts worth their weight in useless gold –
Now everybody’s atheist like me, nothing’s sacred
buy and sell your grandmother, eat up old age homes,
Peddle babies on the street, pretty boys for sale on Times Square –
You can shoot her**n, I can sniff cocaine,
macho men can fite on the Nicaraguan border and get paid with paper!
The velocity’s what counts as the National Debt gets higher
Everybody running after the rising dollar
Crowds of joggers down broadway past City Hall on the way to the Fed
Nobody reads Dostoyevsky books so they’ll have to give a passing ear
to my fragmented ravings in between President’s speeches
Nothing’s happening but the collapse of the Economy
so I can go back to sleep till the landlord wins his eviction suit in court.
Kissass is the Part of Peace
America will have to Kissass Mother Earth
Whites have to Kissass blacks, for Peace & Pleasure,
Only Pathway to Peace, Kissass.
That tree said
I don’t like that white car under me,
it smells gasoline
That other tree next to it said
O you’re always complaining
you’re a neurotic
you can see by the way you’re bent over.
Understand That This Is A Dream
Real as a dream
What shall I do with this great opportunity to fly?
What is the interpretation of this planet, this moon?
if I can dream that I dream / and dream anything dreamable / can I dream
I am awake / and why do that?
When I dream in a dream that I wake / up what
happens when I try to move?
I dream that I move
and the effort moves and moves
till I move / and my arm hurts
Then I wake up / dismayed / I was dreaming / I was waking
when I was dreaming still / just now.
and try to remember next time in dreams
that I am in dreaming.
And dream anything I want when I’m awaken.
When I’m in awakeness what do I desire?
I desire to fulfill my emotional belly.
My whole body my heart in my fingertops thrill with some old fulfillments.
Pages of celestial rhymes burning fire-words
unconsumable but disappear.
Arcane parchments my own and the universe the answer.
Belly to Belly and knee to knee.
The hot spurt of my body to thee and thee
old boy / dreamy Earl / you Prince of Paterson / now king of me / lost
first dream that made me take down my pants
urgently to show the cars / auto tracks / rolling down avenue hill.
That far back what do I remember / but the face of the leader of the gang
was blond / that loved me / one day on the steps of his house blocks away
all afternoon I told him about my magic Spell
I can do anything I want / palaces millions / chemistry sets / chicken
coops / white horses
stables and torture basements / I inspect my naked victims
chained upside down / my fingertips thrill approval on their thighs
white hairless cheeks I may kiss all I want
at my mercy. on the racks.
I pass with my strong attendants / I am myself naked
bending down with my buttocks out
for their smacks of reproval / o the heat of desire
liek sh*t in my assh*l*. The strange gang
across the street / thru the grocerystore / in the wood alley / out in the open
on the corner
Because I lied to the Dentist about that chickencoop roofing / slate stolen off
by me and the boy I loved who would punish me if he knew
what I loved him.
That now I have had that boy back in another blond form
Peter Orlovsky a Chinese teenager in Bangkok ten years twenty years
Jo Army on the campus / white blond loins / my mouth hath kisses /
full of his c*ck / my *ss burning / full of his c*ck
all that I do desire. In dream and awake
this handsome body mine / answered
all I desired / intimate loves / open eyed / revealed at last / clothes on the
Underwear the most revealing stripped off below the belly button in bed.
That’s that / yes yes / the flat c*cks the red pr*cks the gentle public hair /
alone with me
my magic spell. My power / what I desire alone / what after thirty years /
I got forever / after thirty years / satisfied enough with Peter / with all I
with many men I knew one generation / our sperm passing
into our mouths and bellies / beautiful when I love / given.
Now the dream oldens / I olden / my hair a year long / my thirtyeight
I dream I
am bald / am disappearing / the campus unrecognizable / Haledon Avenue
will be covered with neon / motels / Supermarkets / iron
the porches and woods changed when i go back / to see Earl again
He’ll be bald / fleshy father / I could pursie him further in the garage
If there’s still a garage on the hill / on the planet / when I get back.
If I could even remember his name or his face / or find him /
When I was ten / perhaps he exists in some form.
With a belly and a belt and an auto
Whatever his last name / I never knew / in the phonebook / the Akashic
I’ll write my Inspiration for all Mankind to remember,
My Idea, the secret cave / in the clothes closet / that house probably down /
Nothing to go back to / everything’s gone / only my idea
that’s disappearing / even in dreams / gray dust piles / instant annihilation
of World War II and all its stainless steel shining-mouthed cannons
much less me and my grammar school kisses / I never kissed in time /
and go on kissing in dream and out on the street / as if it were for ever.
No forever left! Even my oldest forever gone, in Bangkok, in Benares,
swept up with words and bodies / all into the brown Ganges /
passing the burning grounds and / into the police state.
My mind, my mind / you had six feet of Earth to hoe /
Why didn’t you remember and plant the seed of Law and gather the sprouts
the golden blossoms of what idea? If I dream that I dream / what dream
should I dream next? Motorcycle rickshaws / parting lamp shine / little
taxis / horses hoofs
on this Saigon midnight street. Angkor Wat ahead and the ruined city’s old
and there was a dream about Eternity. What should I dream when I wake?
What’s left to dream, more Chinese meat? More magic Spells? More youths
to love before I change & disappear?
More dream words? For now that I know that I am dreaming /
What next for you Allen? Run down to the Presidents Palace full of Morphine /
The c*cks crowing / in the street / Dawn trucks / What is the question?
Do I need sleep, now that there’s light in the window?
I’ll go to sleep. Signing off until / the next idea / the moving van arrives
at the Doctor’s house full of Chinese furniture.
Now mind is clear
as a cloudless sky.
Time then to make a
home in wilderness.
What have I done but
wander with my eyes
in the trees? So I
will build: wife,
family, and seek
perish of lonesomeness
or want of food or
lightning or the bear
(must tame the hart
and wear the bear) .
And maybe make an image
of my wandering, a little
image—shrine by the
roadside to signify
to traveler that I live
here in the wilderness
awake and at home.
Footnote To Howl
Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!
Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!
The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy!
The nose is holy! The tongue and c*ck and hand
and assh*l* holy!
Everything is holy! everybody’s holy! everywhere is
holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman’s an
The bum’s as holy as the seraphim! the madman is
holy as you my soul are holy!
The typewriter is holy the poem is holy the voice is
holy the hearers are holy the ecstasy is holy!
Holy Peter holy Allen holy Solomon holy Lucien holy
Kerouac holy Huncke holy Burroughs holy Cas-
sady holy the unknown buggered and suffering
beggars holy the hideous human angels!
Holy my mother in the insane asylum! Holy the c*cks
of the grandfathers of Kansas!
Holy the groaning saxophone! Holy the bop
apocalypse! Holy the jazzbands marij*na
hipsters peace & junk & drums!
Holy the solitudes of skyscrapers and pavements! Holy
the cafeterias filled with the millions! Holy the
mysterious rivers of tears under the streets!
Holy the lone juggernaut! Holy the vast lamb of the
middle class! Holy the crazy shepherds of rebell-
ion! Who digs Los Angeles IS Los Angeles!
Holy New York Holy San Francisco Holy Peoria &
Seattle Holy Paris Holy Tangiers Holy Moscow
Holy time in eternity holy eternity in time holy the
clocks in space holy the fourth dimension holy
the fifth International holy the Angel in Moloch!
Holy the sea holy the desert holy the railroad holy the
locomotive holy the visions holy the hallucina-
tions holy the miracles holy the eyeball holy the
Holy forgiveness! mercy! charity! faith! Holy! Ours!
bodies! suffering! magnanimity!
Holy the supernatural extra brilliant intelligent
kindness of the soul!
In the foreground we see time and life
swept in a race
toward the left hand side of the picture
where shore meets shore.
But that meeting place
it doesn’t occur on the canvas.
For the other side of the bay
is Heaven and Eternity,
with a bleak white haze over its mountains.
And the immense water of L’Estaque is a go-between
for minute rowboats.
War Profit Litany
To Ezra Pound
These are the names of the companies that have made
money from this war
nineteenhundredsixtyeight Annodomini fourthousand
These are the Corporations who have profited by merchan-
dising skinburning phosphorous or shells fragmented
to thousands of fleshpiercing needles
and here listed money millions gained by each combine for
and here are gains numbered, index’d swelling a decade, set
here named the Fathers in office in these industries, tele-
phones directing finance,
names of directors, makers of fates, and the names of the
stockholders of these destined Aggregates,
and here are the names of their ambassadors to the Capital,
representatives to legislature, those who sit drinking
in hotel lobbies to persuade,
and separate listed, those who drop Amphetamine with
military, gossip, argue, and persuade
suggesting policy naming language proposing strategy, this
done for fee as ambassadors to Pentagon, consul-
tants to military, paid by their industry:
and these are the names of the generals & captains mili-
tary, who know thus work for war goods manufactur-
and above these, listed, the names of the banks, combines,
investment trusts that control these industries:
and these are the names of the newspapers owned by these
and these are the names of the airstations owned by these
and these are the numbers of thousands of citizens em-
ployed by these businesses named;
and the beginning of this accounting is 1958 and the end
1968, that static be contained in orderly mind,
coherent and definite,
and the first form of this litany begun first day December
1967 furthers this poem of these States.
Now I’ll record my secret vision, impossible sight of the face of God:
It was no dream, I lay broad waking on a fabulous couch in Harlem
having masturbated for no love, and read half naked an open book of Blake
on my lap
Lo & behold! I was thoughtless and turned a page and gazed on the living
and heard a voice, it was Blake’s, reciting in earthen measure:
the voice rose out of the page to my secret ear never heard before-
I lifted my eyes to the window, red walls of buildings flashed outside,
endless sky sad Eternity
sunlight gazing on the world, apartments of Harlem standing in the
each brick and cornice stained with intelligence like a vast living face–
the great brain unfolding and brooding in wilderness!–Now speaking
aloud with Blake’s voice–
Love! thou patient presence & bone of the body! Father! thy careful
watching and waiting over my soul!
My son! My son! the endless ages have remembered me! My son! My son!
Time howled in anguish in my ear!
My son! My son! my father wept and held me in his dead arms.
White fog lifting & falling on mountain-brow
Trees moving in rivers of wind
The clouds arise
as on a wave, gigantic eddy lifting mist
above teeming ferns exquisitely swayed
along a green crag
glimpsed thru mullioned glass in valley raine—
Bardic, O Self, Visitacione, tell naught
but what seen by one man in a vale in Albion,
of the folk, whose physical sciences end in Ecology,
the wisdom of earthly relations,
of mouths & eyes interknit ten centuries visible
orchards of mind language manifest human,
of the satanic thistle that raises its horned symmetry
flowering above sister grass-daisies’ pink tiny
bloomlets angelic as lightbulbs—
Remember 160 miles from London’s symmetrical thorned tower
& network of TV pictures flashing bearded your Self
the lambs on the tree-nooked hillside this day bleating
heard in Blake’s old ear, & the silent thought of Wordsworth in eld Stillness
clouds passing through skeleton arches of Tintern Abbey—
Bard Nameless as the Vast, babble to Vastness!
All the Valley quivered, one extended motion, wind
undulating on mossy hills
a giant wash that sank white fog delicately down red runnels
on the mountainside
whose leaf-branch tendrils moved asway
in granitic undertow down—
and lifted the floating Nebulous upward, and lifted the arms of the trees
and lifted the grasses an instant in balance
and lifted the lambs to hold still
and lifted the green of the hill, in one solemn wave
A solid mass of Heaven, mist-infused, ebbs thru the vale,
a wavelet of Immensity, lapping gigantic through Llanthony Valley,
the length of all England, valley upon valley under Heaven’s ocean
tonned with cloud-hang,
—Heaven balanced on a grassblade.
Roar of the mountain wind slow, sigh of the body,
One Being on the mountainside stirring gently
Exquisite scales trembling everywhere in balance,
one motion thru the cloudy sky-floor shifting on the million feet of daisies,
one Majesty the motion that stirred wet grass quivering
to the farthest tendril of white fog poured down
through shivering flowers on the mountain’s head—
No imperfection in the budded mountain,
Valleys breathe, heaven and earth move together,
daisies push inches of yellow air, vegetables tremble,
grass shimmers green
sheep speckle the mountainside, revolving their jaws with empty eyes,
horses dance in the warm rain,
tree-lined canals network live farmland,
blueberries fringe stone walls on hawthorn’d hills,
pheasants croak on meadows haired with fern—
Out, out on the hillside, into the ocean sound, into delicate gusts of wet air,
Fall on the ground, O great Wetness, O Mother, No harm on your body!
Stare close, no imperfection in the grass,
each flower Buddha-eye, repeating the story,
Kneel before the foxglove raising green buds, mauve bells dropped
doubled down the stem trembling antennae,
& look in the eyes of the branded lambs that stare
breathing stockstill under dripping hawthorn—
I lay down mixing my beard with the wet hair of the mountainside,
smelling the brown vagina-moist ground, harmless,
tasting the violet thistle-hair, sweetness—
One being so balanced, so vast, that its softest breath
moves every floweret in the stillness on the valley floor,
trembles lamb-hair hung gossamer rain-beaded in the grass,
lifts trees on their roots, birds in the great draught
hiding their strength in the rain, bearing same weight,
Groan thru breast and neck, a great Oh! to earth heart
Calling our Presence together
The great secret is no secret
Senses fit the winds,
Visible is visible,
rain-mist curtains wave through the bearded vale,
gray atoms wet the wind’s kabbala
Crosslegged on a rock in dusk rain,
rubber booted in soft grass, mind moveless,
breath trembles in white daisies by the roadside,
Heaven breath and my own symmetric
Airs wavering thru antlered green fern
drawn in my navel, same breath as breathes thru Capel-Y-Ffn,
Sounds of Aleph and Aum
through forests of gristle,
my skull and Lord Hereford’s Knob equal,
All Albion one.
What did I notice? Particulars! The
vision of the great One is myriad—
smoke curls upward from ashtray,
house fire burned low,
The night, still wet & moody black heaven
upward in motion with wet wind.
What do I want in these rooms papered with visions of money?
How much can I make by cutting my hair? If I put new heels on my shoes,
bathe my body reeking of masturbation and sweat, layer upon layer of excrement
dried in employment bureaus, magazine hallways, statistical cubicles, factory stairways,
cloakrooms of the smiling gods of psychiatry;
if in antechambers I face the presumption of department store supervisory employees,
old clerks in their asylums of fat, the slobs and dumbbells of the ego with money and power
to hire and fire and make and break and fart and justify their reality of wrath and rumor of wrath to wrath-weary man,
what war I enter and for what a prize! the dead prick of commonplace obsession,
harridan vision of electricity at night and daylight misery of thumb-sucking rage.
I would rather go mad, gone down the dark road to Mexico, her**n dripping in my veins,
eyes and ears full of marij**na,
eating the god Peyote on the floor of a mudhut on the border
or laying in a hotel room over the body of some suffering man or woman;
rather jar my body down the road, crying by a diner in the Western sun;
rather crawl on my naked belly over the tincans of Cincinnati;
rather drag a rotten railroad tie to a Golgotha in the Rockies;
rather, crowned with thorns in Galveston, nailed hand and foot in Los Angeles, raised up to die in Denver,
pierced in the side in Chicago, perished and tombed in New Orleans and resurrected in 1958 somewhere on Garret Mountain,
come down roaring in a blaze of hot cars and garbage,
streetcorner Evangel in front of City I-Tall, surrounded by statues of agonized lions,
with a mouthful of sh*t, and the hair rising on my scalp,
screaming and dancing in praise of Eternity annihilating the sidewalk, annihilating reality,
screaming and dancing against the orchestra in the destructible ballroom of the world,
blood streaming from my belly and shoulders
flooding the city with its hideous ecstasy, rolling over the pavements and highways
by the bayoux and forests and derricks leaving my flesh and my bones hanging on the trees.
To Aunt Rose
Aunt Rose—now—might I see you
with your thin face and buck tooth smile and pain
of rheumatism—and a long black heavy shoe
for your bony left leg
limping down the long hall in Newark on the running carpet
past the black grand piano
in the day room
where the parties were
and I sang Spanish loyalist songs
in a high squeaky voice
(hysterical) the committee listening
while you limped around the room
collected the money—
Aunt Honey, Uncle Sam, a stranger with a cloth arm
in his pocket
and huge young bald head
of Abraham Lincoln Brigade
—your long sad face
your tears of sexual frustration
(what smothered sobs and bony hips
under the pillows of Osborne Terrace)
—the time I stood on the toilet seat naked
and you powdered my thighs with calamine
against the poison ivy—my tender
and shamed first black curled hairs
what were you thinking in secret heart then
knowing me a man already—
and I an ignorant girl of family silence on the thin pedestal
of my legs in the bathroom—Museum of Newark.
Hitler is dead, Hitler is in Eternity; Hitler is with
Tamburlane and Emily Brontë
Though I see you walking still, a ghost on Osborne Terrace
down the long dark hall to the front door
limping a little with a pinched smile
in what must have been a silken
welcoming my father, the Poet, on his visit to Newark
—see you arriving in the living room
dancing on your crippled leg
and clapping hands his book
had been accepted by Liveright
Hitler is dead and Liveright’s gone out of business
The Attic of the Past and Everlasting Minute are out of print
Uncle Harry sold his last silk stocking
Claire quit interpretive dancing school
Buba sits a wrinkled monument in Old
Ladies Home blinking at new babies
last time I saw you was the hospital
pale skull protruding under ashen skin
blue veined unconscious girl
in an oxygen tent
the war in Spain has ended long ago
The Blue Angel
Marlene Dietrich is singing a lament
for mechanical love.
She leans against a mortarboard tree
on a plateau by the seashore.
She’s a life-sized toy,
the doll of eternity;
her hair is shaped like an abstract hat
made out of white steel.
Her face is powdered, whitewashed and
immobile like a robot.
Jutting out of her temple, by an eye,
is a little white key.
She gazes through dull blue pupils
set in the whites of her eyes.
She closes them, and the key
turns by itself.
She opens her eyes, and they’re blank
like a statue’s in a museum.
Her machine begins to move, the key turns
again, her eyes change, she sings.
—you’d think I would have thought a plan
to end the inner grind,
but not till I have found a man
to occupy my mind.