American Presented Through the Poems

Read the poems, “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg and “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman.

In reading “Howl”, I’m sure you have a sense of the vision of America being presented. Considering the title of the poem, one can easily say that Ginsberg’s poem is like a pained and angry cry.

In approaching this essay assignment, you’re thinking about this poem, “Howl”, as a symbol of America, but one that’s not often seen or acknowledged. There’s the familiar platitude about history being written by the winners, and what this platitude implies is not just that there are a select few with power and influence who determine what we remember from the past, but that there are many thousands of voices, who have no power or influence, and who remain silent. This is where literature steps in and gives voice to those whom we don’t often hear from. So what does the poem reveal about America?

In turn, ask yourself the same question about Walt Whitman’s vision of America. Based on his poem ‘Song of Myself’, compare Whitman’s vision to Ginsberg’s. What similarities do they share and what are the differences?

Sample Solution