Dear Walt Whitman,
I understand, my comrade, your connection and harmony with all of universe. Being out in nature, you are surrounded by love and beauty. It makes it easy to forget the pain people suffer for being different in this filthy decaying city. I for one will not settle for an existence in which the self is oppressed. Nor, will I go unloved because some consider my desires unnatural. I will speak for those who are too afraid or no longer have the chance to speak out. I will not apologize for being unacceptable. I tried to be part of society, but the university was horrified by my thoughts. They refused to help me pursue my intellectual and creative pursuits because I refused to conform. But, I will continue to cry out for all of these angels who lust after drugs, drink and sex. I have seen friends lose loved ones because they confess to enjoy getting a fix, by a needle in the arm or a cock up the ass. We should not go unloved because we can’t force ourselves to go to bed with women. Embrace your desires, let your heals embrace him and tremble with pleasure. But, be aware that it will disrupt your harmony with others.
Casted out, we are living in parks and alleyways. Cutting ourselves, jumping off bridges and crying on sidewalks, with so called “good” people glaring in disgust at us, the undesirables. The people that try to “save us” take us away to medical prison. We are given electro shocks in order to “fix us.” I say there is no need to fix us. These doctors are the ones who are insane. They are not capable of understand how to love. Why do they get to set the standard? All we do is pull the truth out of shadows and into the sun, in order to keep ourselves warm and bring a smile to our faces and we are received with hospitals, jails and wars. All I do is cry out for some one to love me for me. Still can’t even mention the words anal sex or communism without receiving uncomfortable gazes. I want to feel this harmony with every thing that you feel so strongly. I wanted even more for my friends whose honesty has been received only with straight jackets and fights with cops. You must me suffering, my friend, unaware. We are all connected. Children, young and old men are all suffering because I’m suffering and my friends are suffering. We all need to make others see that there is nothing wrong with us. We need to not allow any one, no matter their authority, make us feel like we are not good enough. We are not mad for seeking pleasure; we are suffering from madness because we are denied pleasure. Imagine a world where we are loved, accepted and happy, then we can build it together.
In Howl, Allen Ginsberg is an angry, strong and proud man. But inwardly, he is also feeling misunderstood, afraid, desperate and insecure. He is screaming out in Howl for someone to understand what life as an outcast is like and he is looking for someone to accept him. Allen Ginsberg is writing to his friend Walt Whitman because they both share similar ideas on sexuality. Ginsberg is desperate to feel the harmony with others that Whitman feels.
Allen Ginsberg is misunderstood, afraid and insecure because of his alienation by society. He attempted to be part of the society by getting involved in the institution of higher education. He was out casted because they misunderstood his poetry. They found it obscene, instead of beautiful. “Who were expelled from the academies for crazy and publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull.” (Ginsberg line 7)
He is angry his friends going insane and people thinking they are insane. He also has a fear of being insane, being considered insane or going insane himself. “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness.” (Ginsberg line 1) He doesn’t understand why some people get to define what is acceptable for other people and wants outcasts to fight back. “I’m with you in Rockland, where you accuse your doctors of insanity.” (Ginsberg line 106)
Allen Ginsberg is afraid that he will continue to suffer all his life. That life is nothing but suffering for those that just don’t fit in. “Children screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks!” (Ginsberg line 80) He is desperate for some kind of escape for his alienation and craves acceptance, but feels he will never receive it “Visions! Omens! Hallucinations! Miracles! Ecstasies! Gone down the American River!” (Ginsberg line 90) Ginsberg is sad and angry because he had friends that have committed or attempted suicide. His friends were just as misunderstood and insecure as he is, which makes him fearful and desperate to not end up like them. “Who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccessfully…. who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge” (Ginsberg line 53)
Allen Ginsberg is desperate for acceptance by others. He wants to feel like its okay to feel his feelings and want his desires. Mainstream society considers drugs and homosexuality to have negative impacts on individuals and society as a whole, but Ginsberg does not. “Purgatoried their torsos night after night with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and endless balls.” (Ginsberg line 10) He is outspoken and proud of his sexuality, but he is still insecure and fearful of punishment at the same time. Mainstream society depicts anal sex as painful and dirty, but Ginsberg rejects that idea and believes it to be pleasurable. “Who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy.” (Ginsberg line 35) Others would have written screamed in pain, instead of joy.
Howl is one long angry desperate cry for love, acceptance, and confirmation that everything will be fine. The letter and poem share themes of sexuality, pleasure, desire, nonconformity and alienation. The poem is free verse. It is a continuous thought about many different fears and grievances. The letter is similar because it’s a casual letter of connected thoughts. The language in the letter is direct without being too sexual because Allen Ginsberg is blunt about sexuality, but Walt Whitman use metaphors. Ginsberg feels alienated and is desperate to feel the harmony with the universe that Whitman feels.