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Plutonian Ode is a long poem by Allen Ginsberg. The poem was written in 1978 and it is an eloquent plea for the safeguard of the planer against thermonuclear foe. Ginsberg protested against the spread of nuclear menace (Stephenson 174). He protested by linking radioactive nemesis, several biblical names for God and whirlpools of star spume silver thin as hairs of Einstein. The poem is an outside attack on convention; he chants a fitful Gnostic dirge using epithets such as “I salute your dreadful presence last majestic as the Gods” (Ginsberg 703). The poem makes a spectacular effort to change the national consciousness about the nuclear age and addresses the looming specter of mass human annihilation. The entire poem connects to plutonium as a living part of the world although it is a dangerous one. The speaker talks to the plutonium and establishes a dialogue giving plutonium almost human characteristics.

The poem amasses a mass of wrathful deities, widespread borrowing from apocalyptic literature and a wholesale naming of the name to battle with the nuclear industry. The poem is a means of understanding the magnitude of plutonium’s destructive potential and it also suggests the scale of power that would be required to stop it.

Allen Ginsberg in his poem seizes the chance to forename to bring the person of the physicists, the poet’s evil twin before the reader. The radioactive element of plutonium is described as “a modern epic, detonative, scientific theme / first penned unmindful by Doctor Seaborg with poisonous hand, named for Death's planet through the sea beyond Uranus” (Ginsberg 702). The physicist inscribes the ‘new element’ with ‘poisonous hand’.

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The poet draws a somewhat ambiguous contrast between the poet and the physicist. The speaker in the poem clearly and repeatedly shows “new element” as radioactive nemesis to lyric. It is a matter that renders self oblivion. The antithetical relation is a contest and the ode is obviously an attempt to master the new element. This is evident in the statement “manufactured spectre of human reason! O solidified imago of practitioner in black arts I dare your reality; I challenge your very being! I publish your cause and effect!”(Ginsberg 703).

Image of Radioactive Element

The radioactive element is not only regarded as a “spectre” but also as an “imago,” which means a picture. Ginsberg attempts to challenge the “poisonous hand” of those making the radioactive elements. The poem is rein-scribed as the picture of the new element. The speaker in the poem repeatedly claims that he is speaking on behalf of the mute element. He says ‘my oratory advances on your vaunted Mystery!....I sing tour form at last” (Ginsberg 703). He also declares “o density, this weightless anthem trumpets transcendent through hidden chambers and breaks through iron doors into the infernal room!..... I call your name with hollow vowels, I psalm your fate close by, My breath near deathless ever at your side to spell your destiny…. O doomed Plutonium” (Ginsberg 704).

There is an apparent comparison between the weightlessness of lyric and the density of radioactive matter. This shows that the lyric element has somehow assumed the neverending half-life of radioactive substances. The “weightless anthem” appears to go through the iron doors in a way that looks likes, but also surpasses the radiation character. In numerous other passages, this “epic” confrontation appears to signal the awakening of matter and eventually the mingling of the two elements: “Enter my body or not I carol my spirit inside you, Unapproachable Weight, O heavy heavy, Element awakened I vocalize your consciousness to six worlds” (Ginsberg 703). The poet disproves the superficial contrast or radioactive and poetic substances. The speaker tells his archenemy “I enter your secret places with my mind, I speak with your presence” (Ginsberg703).

The history of atomism worries the mind’s capacity to “enter the secret places” of the physical world and to show the invisibility of the matter. The poet equation of poetic and radioactive substances lays emphasis on the shocking and mysterious effects of the abstracting power of the lyric. The destructive implication of a poetics of radiation is evident as odds with the speaker’s superficial opposition to the bomb in humanitarian grounds. The radiant substances are implicates in a profoundly anti-humanistic manner. In this poem, Ginsberg portrayed the metaphysical crisis of the atomic age and called for extreme measures. There was the prospect of annihilation inherent in the atom.

Ginsberg believed that the only poetry that could challenge the bombs metaphysics of the bomb through becoming a bomb. The poem gives a new life to the essential negativity of the radioactive substances. It is a kind of epic confrontation staged by Ginsberg on the nuclear industry (Monamarco 9). The poem seeks inner knowledge in a world that is condemned. It offers a sense of apprehension and distraction of the world in the atomic age. The poem talks of the perverse alchemy of the element plutonium which is named as god of death and the invention of weapons which can destroy and poison the earth and also violate the natural and human order. The poem implies that physicists were tampering with the gods; it is taken as a blasphemy of the ancient verities. The human imagination confronts the nuclear weapon in the poem so as to make a difference in life.

The poem puts the poet apprehensions and worries under discussion and he argues that these issues are important to people as they influence the way people live. The poem shows the disingenuousness of the element and this denotes the disparaging dishonesty of modern life in numerous diverse expressions. The poem shows all this by regarding plutonium as a living component of the world although a precarious one. 

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