I’m so lucky to be nutty.
—Allen Ginsberg, “Bop Lyrics” (1949)

The very first poem in Allen Ginsberg’s Collected Poems 1947-1980[1] seems, in a way, to prophesy Ginsberg’s entire career. It is titled “In Society,” and it dates from 1947, when the poet was twenty-one years old. The poem records a dream: Ginsberg is at a high-society cocktail party, is more or less ignored, and is told by a woman, “I don’t like you.” He screams at her:

. . . “What!”
in outrage. “Why you shit-faced fool!”
This got everybody’s attention.
“Why you narcissistic bitch! How
can you decide when you don’t even
know me,” I...

 

A Message from the Editors

Since 1982, The New Criterion has nurtured and safeguarded our delicate cultural inheritance. Join our family of supporters and secure the future of civilization.

Popular Right Now