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 continued in a violent and messianic voice, inspired at last, ...

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