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Essay: Allen Ginsberg Lysergic Acid Mescalin Compare And Contrast

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Allen ginsberg lysergic acid & mescalin compare and contrast

Bob Dylan once said, " Allen Ginsberg is both tragic and dynamic, a lyrical genius, a con-man extraordinaire and probably the single greatest influence on American poetical voice since Whitman."

Helen Vendler voiced her opinion on Ginsberg, stating, " Ginsberg is responsible for loosening the breath of American poetry at mid - century....... Most of all, he has demonstrated that there is nothing in American social and erotic reality which cannot find a place. His powerful mixture of Blake, Whitman, Pound, and Williams, to which he added his own volatile, grotesque, and tender humor, has assured him a memorable place in modern poetry."

Ginsberg's poems " Mescaline" and " Lysergic Acid" have several common themes that can be easily picked up from the surface. Upon further reading, the reader can find several key underlying themes.

On the surface, the obvious theme that these poems share is the issue of drug use. These poems to not take a pro or con view on the issue of drug use. Instead these poems were named after the drugs that Ginsberg was using when he wrote them. Mescaline and Lysergic Acid (LSD) are both mind altering hallucinogens, that are said to open one's mind.

Both poems delve into one's psyche and make one question their own existence, death, and the afterlife. In the fifth stanza of "Mescaline", Ginsberg asked the unanswerable, eternal question.

I want to know

I want I want ridiculous to know to know WHAT rotting ginsberg

I want to know what happens after I rot

because I'm already rotting

my hair's falling out I've got a belly I'm sick of sex

my ass drags in the universe I know too much

and not enough

I want to know what happens after I die

well I'll find out soon enough

do I really need to know now?

is that any use at all use use use

death death death death death

god god god god god god god the Lone Ranger

the rhythm of the typewriter

In the above passage, Ginsberg plays the part of the mortal, wondering about the afterlife. In "Lysergic Acid," he talks about wanting to be God.

I allen Ginsberg a separate consciousness

I who want to be God

Both poems share the idea that drug experimentation can open one's mind so that they may achieve a higher consciousness, and a better understanding of one's self. It seems to me that Ginsberg's goal in his poetry is to attain a "oneness" with God. By taking these drugs, I believe that Ginsberg feels an intense psychedelic reaction, in a sense he can experience a parallel dimension equivalent to the omniscient, or all knowing theological "God".

One hidden meaning that I found in "Mescaline," was the mention of William Carlos Williams. "What can Williams be thinking in Paterson,......Williams what is death?," refers to William Carlos Williams' four part poem "Paterson." "Paterson" is about the idea that a man in himself is a city, beginning, seeking, achieving, and concluding his life in ways which the various aspects of a city may embody. When Ginsberg asks Williams, " Williams what is death?," I think he is also referring to the fact that Williams was Ginsberg's doctor when he was a child. Williams encouraged Ginsberg's poetry as well as other poets such as Gary Snyder, Robert Creeley, and Robert Lowell. Paterson was also the name of the town in New Jersey that Ginsberg grew up.

There are homosexual undertones in a lot of Ginsberg's poems. In "Mescaline," he says "can't stand boys either anymore," which I find as an underlying hint that can be taken in different ways. In "Lysergic Acid," he talks of a " gay Creator." The Word "gay" can mean happy, the bulk of Ginsberg's work has similar innuendo in it.

I believe that the poems are fascinating, but I find them hard to read. The way in which they are written is completely open form. At some points in his work when he repeats certain words there is a sense of rhythm, but overall there is no set meter or rhythm.

"Mescaline," I believe is about Ginsberg's aging and his self actualization. After taking these drugs, he looks into the mirror and sees someone that he does not recognize as himself. He comes to terms with the effects of aging such as balding. The repeated line of "rotting Ginsberg" refers to the aging process also. He faces the issue of marriage, and the fact that he thinks he should get married before it is too late. There is even a reference to his aging in "Lysergic Acid," when he states "My face in the mirror, thin hair, blood congested in streaks.....I am a Ghost."

"Lysergic Acid" is a interesting piece of work, because it almost transports you into the mind of a person who is "tripping" on LSD. The whole description of the monsters, and of ghosts and of these visions are the things that Ginsberg experienced while under the influence.

In both poems, he refers to the typewriter or the eternal typewriter. I believe that what he means by eternal typewriter, is that whatever he writes will be around long after he is gone, and he strives to make sure that what he writes is good. When he says "What can I do to Heaven by pounding on Typewriter," I believe he is asking what he can do to have an effect on the world, or to put himself on that Godly level.

When it comes to picking which one I think has more literary value or which is more satisfying poetry I can only say that it really depends on the mood. Both of these poems can take you to places that most people are to afraid to go, into one's own mind. Ginsberg makes observations about life and how just when you think that your perception of something is right, it can change in an instant.

The language used in these poems is very strong. Ginsberg often uses traditionally "bad" words like fuck and cocksucker. He says what he wants and puts no boundaries on himself. The images that are evoked when reading Ginsberg can be delightful and disturbing all at once, such as "it floats outward like a corpse filled with music." Ginsberg uses many images that are considered "scary," such as skulls, corpses, spiders, etc... This lends itself to the overall darkness of his writing.

The psychic weight can only be truly understood by someone who has actually experienced what is discussed in the poems. But readers can read into these poems and take what they want out of them. What I see when I read these poems can be entirely different from what someone else sees. That is what makes his writing so interesting to me, the idea that you can put a little of yourself into the reading.

Allen Ginsberg is an innovator and an influence of many of today's writers and artists. He continues to write powerful poetry that sparks the imagination and carries it's readers to a higher level.

Lysergic Acid

It is a multiple million eyed monster

it is hidden in all its elephants and selves

it hummeth in the electric typewriter

it is electricity connected to itself, if it hath wires

it is a vast Spiderweb

and I am on the last millionth infinite tentacle of the spiderweb, a worrier

lost, separated, a worm, a thought, a self

one of the millions of skeletons of China

one of the particular mistakes

I allen Ginsberg a separate consciousness

I who want to be God

I who want to hear the infinite minutest vibration of eternal harmony

I who wait trembling my destruction by that aethereal music in the fire

I who hat God and give him a name

I who make mistakes on the eternal typewriter

I who am doomed

But at the far end of the universe the million eyed Spyder that hath no name

spinneth of itself endlessly

the monster that is no monster approaches with apples, perfume, railroads,

Televisions, skulls

a universe that eats and drinks itself

blood from my skull

Tibetan creature with hairy breast and Zodiac on my stomach

this sacrificial victim unable to have a good time

My face in the mirror, thin hair, blood congested in streaks down beneath

My eyes, cocksucker, a decay, a talking lust

a snaeap, a snarl, a tic of consciousness in infinity

a creep in the eyes of all Universes

trying to escape my Being, unable to pass on to the Eye

I vomit, I am in a trance, my body is seized in convulsion, my stomach

crawls, water from my mouth, I am here in Inferno

dry bones of myriad lifeless mummies naked on the web, the Ghosts, I am

A Ghost

I cry out where I am in the music, to the room, to whomever near, you, Are

You God?

No, do you want me to be God?

Is there no answer?

Must there always be an Answer? you reply,

and were it up to me to say Yes or No -

Thank God I am not God! Thank God I am not God!

But that I long for a Yes of Harmony to penetrate

to every corner of the universe, under every condition whatsoever

a Yes there is... a Yes I am...a Yes You are... a We

A We

and that must be an It, and a They, and a Thing with No Answer

It creepeth, it waiteth, it is still, it is begun, it is the Horns of Battle it is

Multiple Sclerosis

it is not my hope

it is not my death at Eternity

it is not my word, not poetry

beware my Word

It is a Ghost Trap, woven by priest in Sikkim or Tibet

a crossframe on which a thousand threads of different color

are strung, a spiritual tennis racket

in which when I look I see aethereal lightwaves radiate

bright energy passing round on the threads as for billions of years

the thread-bands magically changing hues one transformed to another as if


Ghost Trap

were an image of the Universe in miniature

conscious sentient part of the interrelated machine

making waves outward in Time to the Beholder

displaying its own image in miniature once for all

repeated minutely downward with endless variations throughout all of itself

it being all the same in every part

This image or energy which reproduces itself at the depths of space from the

very Beginning

in what might be an O or an Aum

and trailing variations made of the same Word circles round itself in the same

pattern as its original Appearence

creating a larger Image of itself throughout the depths of Time

outward circling thru bands of faroff Nebulae & vast Astrologies

contained, to be true to itself, in a Mandala painted on an Elephant's hide,

or in a photograph of a painting on the side of an imaginary Elephant which

smiles, tho how the Elephant looks is an irrelevent joke -

it might be a Sign held by a Flaming Demon, or Ogre of Transcience,

or in a photograph of my own belly in the void

or in my eye

or in the eye of the monk who made the Sign

or in its own Eye that stares on Itself at least and dies

and tho an eye can die

and tho my eye can die

the billion-eyed monster, the Nameless, the Answerless, the Hidden-From

me, the endless Being

one creature that gives birth to itself

thrills in its minutest particular, sees out of all eyes differently at once

One and not One moves on its own ways

I cannot follow

And I have made an image of the monster here

and I will make another

it feels like Cryptozoids

it creeps an undulates beneath the sea

it is coming to take over the city

it invades beneath every Consciousness

it is delicate as the Universe

it makes me vomit

becaude I am afraid I will miss its appearance

it appears anyway

it appears anyway in the mirror

it washes out of the mirror like the sea

it is myriad undulations

it washes out of the mirror and drowns the behodler

it drowns the world when it drowns the world

it drowns itself

it floats outward like a corpse filled with music

the noise of war in its head

a babe laugh in its belly

a scream og agony in the dark sea

a smile on the lips of a blind statue

it was there

it was not mine

I wanted to use it for myself

to be heroic

but it is not for sale to this consciousness

it goes its own way forever

it will complete all creatures

it will be the radio of the future

it will hear itself in time

it wants a rest

it is tired of hearing and seeing itself

it wants another form another victim

it wants me

it gives me good reason

it gives me reason to exist

it gives me endless answers

a consciousness to be separate and a consciousness to see

I am beckoned to be One or the other, to say I am both and be neither

it can take care of itself without me

it is Both Answerless ( it answers not to that name )

it hummeth on the elecric typewriter

it types a fragmentary word which is

a fragmentary word,


Gods dance on thier own bodies

New flowers open forgetting Death

Celestial eyes beyond the heartbreak of illusion

I see the gay Creator

Bands rise up in anthem to the worlds

Flags and banners waving in transcendence

One image in the end remains myriad-eyed in Eternity

This is the Work! This is the knowledge! This is the End of man!

Palo Alto, June 2, 1959


Rotting Ginsberg, I stared in the mirror naked today

I noticed the old skull, I'm getting balder

my pate gleams in the kitchen light under thin hair

like the skull of some monk in the old catacombs lighted by

a guard with flashlight

followed by a mob of tourists

so there is death

my kitten mews, and looks into the closet

Boito sings on the phonograph tonight his ancient song of angels

Antinous bust in a brown photograph still gazing down from my wall

a light burst from God's delicate hand sends down a wooden dove to the calm


Beato Angelicos universe

the cat's gone mad and scraowls around the floor

What happens when the death gong hits rotting ginsburg on the head

what universe do I enter

death death death death death the cat's at rest

are we ever free of - rotting ginsburg

Then let it decay, thank God I know

thank you

thank you

Thank you, O lord, beyond my eye

the path must lead somewhere

the path

the path

thru the rotting shit dump, thru the Angelico orgies

Beep, emit a burst of babe and begone

perhaps that's the answer, wouldn't know till you had a kid

I dunno, never had a kid never will at the rate I'm going

Yes, I should be good, I should get married

fing out what it's all about

but I can't stand these women all over me

smell of Naomi

erk, I'm stuck with this familiar rotting ginsberg

can't stand boys even anymore

can't stand

can't stand

and who wants to get fucked up the ass, really?

Immense seas passing over

the flow of time

and who wants to be famous and sign autographs like a movie star

I want to know

I want I want ridiculous to know to know WHAT rotting ginsberg

I want to know what happens after I rot

because I am already rotting

my hair's falling out I've got a belly I'm sick of sex

my ass drags in the universe I know too much

and not enough

I want to know what happens after I die

well I'll find out soon enough

do I really need to know now?

Is that any use at all use use use

death death death death death

god god god god god god god the Lone Ranger

the rhythm of the typewriter

What can I do to Heaven by pounding on Typewriter

I'm stuck change the record Gregory ah excellent he's doing just that

and I am too conscious of a million ears

at present creepy ears, making commerce

too many pictures in the newspapers

faded yellow press clippings

I'm going away from the poem to be drak contemplative

trash of the mind

trash of the world

man is half trash

all trash in the grave

What can Williams be thinking in Paterson, death so much on him

so soon so soon

Williams what is death?

Do you face the great question now each moment

or do you forget at breakfast looking at your old ugly love in the face

are you prepared to be reborn

to give release to this world and enter heaven

or give release, give release

and all be done - and see a lifetime - all eternity - gone over

into naught, a trick question proposed by the moon to the answerless earth

No Glory for man! No Glory for man! No glory for me! No me!

No point writing when the spirit doth not lead

New York, 1959

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