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                                           Ginsberg: A Modern Whitman with a Twist
   
     Postmodernism, a movement in the late 20th century, followed the Modernism movement during the late 19th and early 20th century. The Modernism movement is characterized as a movement that steered away from 19th century traditions in art, religion and faith, and literature. It encouraged rebellion against the cultural norm, was a change for the believed “outdated” day to day life, and focused on finding the meaning/root. At the time, it was believed that science and reason have the answers to the truth and are the foundations of knowledge. With the postmodernism movement following, it was deemed negatively by those who thought it was simply an embellishment of the modernist movement. A characteristic of this movement was the borrowing of modernist’s techniques unashamedly, which was also held a negative reaction. However, the postmodernist movement was a time of openness, meaning, diversity, and chaos. Other characteristics of this time include; the belief of no universal truth, irrationality of things, the belief that science and reason are myths created by man, and, social constructivism. Some people see the modernist movement as bland and postmodernism as a movement against that while others see it as a continuation of the Modernist movement. Both poets, Walt Whitman and Allen Ginsberg are thought to have been influential to these time periods and movements.  Whitman is often thought of as the “father of modernism”, with Ginsberg being considered a foundational postmodernist poet, known for being influenced by Walt Whitman and imitating his ways. Although their works are separated by a century, their works have a common thread amongst them. Like Whitman responded to Robert Frost’s plea for a great, American poet, Ginsberg responds to Whitman in being one of the most acclaimed poets and thinkers of his time. By comparing two of their most famous works (Crossing Brooklyn Ferry and Howl) and through the ideas of modernism and post modernism, Ginsberg follows Whitman’s example with his own unique touch. By using a similar writing technique, a sense of call and response between them, and a contrasting vision of society and America, Ginsberg calls upon Whitman’s inspiration while standing on a pedestal of his own. 
     In Howl, Ginsberg mimics Whitman’s structure of writing in long lines in free verse in Crossing Brooklyn Ferry. Although free verse is hard to define, Whitman and Ginsberg similarly use free verse techniques. In Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, Whitman starts off many stanzas off with the same word/phrase. For example; 
I am with you, you men and women of a generation,
or ever so many generations hence,
  Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky so I felt; 
            Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd; 
            Just as you are refresh’d by the gladness of the river and the bright flow, I was refresh’d;
          Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift current, I stood, yet was     hurried; 
          Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships, and the thick-stem’d pipes of steamboats, I look’d. (1070) Compare this section from Crossing Brooklyn Ferry to this selection from the first section of Howl: 
who wandered around and around at midnight in the railroad yard wondering where to go, and went, leaving no broken hearts,
who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing through snow toward lonesome farms in grandfather night,
who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telepathy and bop Kabbalah because the cosmos instinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas,   
who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking visionary indian angels who were visionary indian angels, (1357) Along with starting with the same word each line, both poets do not write with a regular rhyme scheme, a common technique in free verse poetry.  
             Many readers of Whitman and Ginsberg’s works would acknowledge similarity in topic choice and theme. Comparing these two influential writers of these impactful generations seemed to spark a notice in a “call and response” between Ginsberg and Whitman possibly stemming from Ginsburg’s fascination with Whitman over the course of his career. For example, the last stanza in Crossing Brooklyn Ferry addresses the artists of the world and the people Ginsberg describes in Howl; 
You have waited, you always wait, you dumb, beautiful ministers,
We receive you with free sense at last, and are insatiate henceforward,
Not you any more shall be able to foil us, or withhold yourselves from us,
We use you, and do not cast you aside-we plant you permanently within us,
We fathom you not – we love you – there is perfection in you also,
You furnish your parts toward eternity,
Great or small, you furnish your parts toward the soul.”(1073) These “dumb, beautiful ministers” sound like the “best minds of my generation”(1356) Ginsberg refers to in the first line of Howl. Another notable response from Ginsberg to Whitman can be found section 3 in both “Howl” and “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” (quoted above). Specifically Whitman ending his lines with “I am.., “I felt”, and “I look’d” and Ginsberg starting lines with “I’m with you”. In these sections, the authors are putting themselves in somebody else’s shoes. 
      One of the common themes between Ginsburg and Whitman’s works is society and American culture. In Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, Whitman revels in what he see on the surface of New York and Manhattan. He romanticizes the idea of the beauty from the ferry, while Ginsburg sees New York for what it is. Ginsberg’s heroes are the drug addicted, wandering, madmen of the city. In a way, Ginsberg knocks New York down and in comparison to Crossing Brooklyn Ferry Ginsberg carries a pessimistic tone throughout Howl. For example, the language in Crossing Brooklyn Ferry; 
Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water, 
Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of  beams,
Look’d at the fine centrifugal spokes of light round the shape of my head in the sun-lit       water,
Look’d on the haze on the hills southward and south-westward,
Look’d on the vapor as it flew in fleeces tinged with violet.”(1071), in comparison to the type of language used in Howl, 
the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown, yet putting down 
here what might be left to say in time come after death,
and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in the goldhorn shadow 
of the band and blew the suffering of America’s naked mind for love 
into an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone cry that shivered  
the cities down to the last radio
with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand years. (1361) A clear different between the two uses of romantic and dark descriptive language. In addition in Howl, Ginsberg represented the groups of people that are not at the forefront of society and face of American culture. He wrote about the oppressed and silence. Closing reading this poem makes it seem that Ginsburg is reflecting, with Whitman in mind, on how society has transformed during the century between the two poets.  
           In conclusion, both poets were forces to be reckoned with in their times of writing. Although some see Ginsberg as a follower of Whitman’s lead, others find him to have not only been a leader of his own of the Beat Generation but see his work adding to Whitman’s legacy and to the conversations he wanted to start about the world and where it was going. Through the use of similar writing techniques and form, “call and response”, and opinions of the society of the times Ginsberg’s post modern impression of Whitman is superb in keeping old traditions and creating a legacy of this own. 

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