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Writing poetry or any other form of literature is greatly influenced by the prevailing culture. In most cases it is the culture that provides that people with ideas to write about. A look at various poems or forms of literature can provide the observer with accurate information regarding the cultural and other values were influential during the writing of the poem. The Literal analysis will involve examination of the cultural underpinnings that influenced the writing of the poem “America” by Allen Ginsberg.

America by Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg is a renowned 20th century poet, whose poetry reflected his opinions on many of the prevailing social and political issues in mid 20th century. With the 20th century being home to a flood of social changes Ginsberg never lucked something to talk about.  He wrote the poem “America” in 1956 during the time of his domination. The poem was written in California at a place could Berkeley and was included in the original “Howl and other Poems” publication. The poem gained a great audience after the Second World War as the first documented political literal writing.  It held the massages of the just concluded war. It was a statement on the war, and the political unrest in the United States of America following the war.

The poem is however not limited to the wars and its prominent phenomena such as the nuclear bombing on Japan. Being a lateral political statement, the poem explores issues of American foreign policy especially in relation to Asia; the pronounced racism in the nation, and resistance of communism that would characterize the cold war that followed in the preceding years (Poetry Foundation).

Ginsberg characteristically wrote poems full cultural and political references (Poetry Foundation). The poem “America “bears this characteristic as well. The reference to culture and politics is intertwined with reference to his own life and that of the people he associated with such as fellow poets and friends.

Ginsberg utilized a “long line” as the watershed for his creativity. He experimented riffing of rhythm and held that secret to getting the structure of his poem laid in the choruses of jazz music. His sentences were endlessly continuous, shifting from one subject to another with little or no relation to another. With this approach, Ginsberg hoped to get spontaneous human reaction and expression.  Reading though the poem would stir the readers’ emotions and build them. The writer addresses America as jilted lover starting with discovery of America and moves to ridicule the country and mock its personified being for its culture.

There is what Ginsberg considers luck of culture in the introduction of his poem.  Seemingly, the first cultural aspect of culture during this era the motivated Ginsberg to write the poem is the perceived negative culture. He lament that there had developed a culture of oppression and censorship. He notes that the censorship and oppression are not acceptable since it makes life hapless and devoid it and useful meaning. In this regard, it seems Ginsberg was totally dissatisfied with the culture at that time. Mostly notable, he expresses his hate for the culture of war and militarization associated with the Second World War, he tells America “go fuck yourself with your atom bomb” (5). The destructions and death appear to be greater than that oppression caused by the “Trotskyites” or simply the communists.

Another culture that influences writing of this poem is corporatism in America associate with “supermarkets”, which have “good looks” (15) and as a result are making several people rich, and repression of information associated with limited library services and subsequent free access to information (12).

Culture is associated with identify in this regard understanding ones culture is understanding ones identify whereas luck of culture is luck of identity. Gingrich at one time was so close to his nation and felt intimately connected to it. However, the new turn of events has changed that, making him feel like a stranger in his own country.  He implies that the culture of his country has changed and the writing of the poem “America” is also based on the fact that he believes that all is not lost. His country can retrace its steps back to sanity that why he states in line 20 another approach that would help reconcile with America must be in existence.

It seems this poet feels that American social system is collapsing due to the development of the culture of oppression. He feels that his country is being “sinister” and is continuously losing “best minds” to the jails. This means that the number of people being incarcerated in the country is high than normal since some of the incarcerations are unnecessary. He even uses a peace symbol, a “plum blossom,” from the eastern countries when he states that, “the plum blossoms are falling.” The used of this symbol is meant to indicate the collapse of peace and order in the American society. This sorrow state of thing makes Ginsberg avoid reading newspapers since every day the papers carry stories of new murder trials. Violence was quickly becoming part of the American culture, a development that made Ginsberg very displeased. His displeasure amplified further by the fact that police conduct numerous unwarranted arrests, causing terror among the citizens. He does not believe that a great nation like America could betray its citizens through encouraging violence and development of culture of murders, unwarranted among other terrors and oppression.

The culture of affiliation to various ideologies is also explored by Ginsberg’s poem.  According to Ginsberg people are also oppressed due to their affiliations.  The government criticizes those people who strongly lean toward socialists or leftist ideas. The American cultures seem not to be accommodative of ideas that are demonized. However, Ginsberg feels that he does not need to apologies for his communist sentiments or affiliations. At some point he states that he will, “not say the Lord’s prayer,” which is an indication that of he is not apologetic for his sentiments and affiliations. He further evokes psychology to justify his deeds in the 36th line when he states that, “my psychoanalyst things I’m perfectly right.” The reference to the psychoanalyst emanates for depression treatment therapies he had taken some time back.

Media culture is yet another inspiration that influences this poem. Having hard a love/hate relationship with the media, especially in the 60s when he had a lot of attention as a political activist he felt the need to address the media in the poem in lines 41-50. Ginsberg notes a culture in which the country was being controlled by the media. The media had strong influence that it could impact on the public’s emotions and even stir fear in the elected leaders.  Leader were not making decisions according to what is right, rather they were making decisions based on what the media will make of them or portray them. They were more afraid of the media than the impact of their own decisions.

The poem ends with sarcasm on the pervious sentiments. Despite the sarcasm, the new culture in America cannot be overstated. It is apparent that the erosion of culture and development of new errant culture inspired the poem “America” by Ginsberg. The cultural changes affect the security, justice, polices, ideology, media, economy among others. However, Ginsberg still maintains that something can be done about it. 

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