Literary works including poetry provide the platform under which individuals can express concerns regarding the societal way of life. In the case of the world in the 1950s, anti-war and counterculture movements marked countries owing to the unstable nature of the globe as far as peace was concerned. This research paper will assess how Allen Ginsberg’s poetry reflected the anti-war and counterculture movements of the 1950s.
Allen Ginsberg used poetry to express fury towards the conflicting nations including the United States and Russia and indicated the desire for peace around the world. Ginsberg in the poem America states that I cant stand my own mind. America when will we end the human war?’ Here, it is evident that Ginsberg is appealing for the ending of the war and the realization of peace. Ginsberg further indicates power as the cause of the global instability in the given period by stating that ‘Russia has gone power mad.’ Ginsberg’s assertions in support of the anti-war and counterculture movements are deemed as outright and in the poem ‘America’ the poet addresses the government without elements of relent. According to Hampton (1), Ginsberg is described as ‘a master of the outrageous’ regarding the poetic expressions on political protest movements and drug-oriented counterculture.
Ginsberg’s poetry reflected universal criticism of the global powers which formed the foundation of the anti-war and counterculture movements of the 1950s. According to Poetry Foundation (1), Ginsberg attempted to end wars through ‘poetic evocation’ through the widespread social and political criticism. In the poem, ‘Homework,’ Ginsberg asserts that ‘If I were doing my laundry, I’d wash my dirty Iran, I’d throw in my United States and pour on the Ivory Soap.’ In this case, Ginsberg indicates the conflicting nations as mutually at fault in disrupting the global peace and that there is a need for the reverting of the states of affairs in the given countries to promote peace. Also, in the poem ‘Hum Bom!’ Ginsberg mocks the United States as witnessed in the statement that ‘Who wanted a bomb?’ Through the poems 'Homework' and "Hum Bom!" Ginsberg reflects on the principles of the antiwar and counterculture movements of the 1950s where individuals refuted the use of violence and power battles across the globe.
Also, Ginsberg’s poetry is founded on liberal criticism in support of the counterculture and antiwar movements of the 1950s. Koch (1), notes Ginsberg stating that ‘… vowelic heat comes from single-minded devotional awareness of death. And the preciousness of the human body alive.’ Here, Ginsberg explains poetry in reference to the criticism which associated the poet’s inspiration with political experience and drugs. Also, Bloom (1) indicates that Ginsberg’s poetry assisted in the establishment of the counterculture in the periods towards 1960 which promoted anti-establishment culture. Perry (1) quotes another poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti stating that ‘He (Ginsberg) went the way he wanted to go.’ In a further expression of the counterculture, Ginsberg in the poem ‘Kiss Ass’ reflects how different races in the United States compromised (Kissed Ass) for the attainment of peace.
The world in the 1950s was marked with wars, and cultural conflicts as nations and individuals sought to proclaim identity. Ginsberg used poetry to promote counterculture and anti-war by expressing personalized thoughts, criticism towards global powers and openly expressing inclination towards anti-establishment cultures such as drug use.