America, America

[Allen Ginsberg A Queda Da América (The Fall of  America; Poems of These States)   translations by Paulo Henriques Britto. L&PM Porto Alegre, 2014]


Allen Ginsberg’s classic poem “America” is one we tend to trot out around this time   (like every Thanksgiving, it’ll be William Burroughs’ “Thanksgiving Prayer”  and every Allen’s birthday, it’s dogwood flowers).                            So here it is again.

and here’s, of interest, (included in  Gordon Ball‘s edition of Allen Ginsberg’s Journals – Mid Fifties 1954-58 ), an early draft, or early poem, early working, with that title, written shortly after “Howl”.

The last line echoes down the ages – “Betrayed!, Betrayed!”


I’ll sing of America and Time

for as I lie in my bed  alone one night

I ruminated with my secret soul

in ancient rhetoric

“Inspire me tonight with a dreamlike poem

foretelling in rapt naturalistic forms

the fate of this country I hide in

penniless and lovelorn waiting for the barren

doom of my own days:

Illuminate your tragic

wisdom, my darkest deepest countryman,

reveal in shorthand and symbolic images

the paradigm of fortune for United States;

witness the downfall and roar of daily life,

in riches and despair amid great machinery,

lacking miracke of heart, in habitude to substantial

trashy world, its dreams and miseries of steel,

for all the natural fatness, universal toys

prayed for, granted and betrayed:

let the unknown,

unknowable, shapeless and foreboded future be once

limbed clearly, particularized in thought and set

down solid for the eye to wonder and receive, so I can

salvage some remnant of the truth

of all society out of my solitary craze – “

Dark America! toward whom I close my eyes for prophecy,

and bend my speaking heart

Betrayed! Betrayed!


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