"Glimmerings, Hints, and Secret Amazements": William Blake, Walt Whitman, and the Spiritual Incantations of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl"
Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only
Bachelors of Arts (BA)
This essay dissects the links between Allen Ginsberg and two of his poetic predecessors, William Blake and Walt Whitman in order to elucidate a spiritual reading of his 1956 seminal poem “Howl.” Focusing on Ginsberg’s life between 1947 and 1952, portrayed through journals, biography, manuscripts, and interviews, salient connections emerge from which Ginsberg constructs a language to express his spirituality that is grounded in Blake’s and Whitman’s works. Throughout this period, highlighted by his 1948 hallucination of William Blake, Ginsberg constructs the parameters of his spirituality synthesizing literary touchstones with lived experience. “Howl,” as a result, is inundated with notions gleaned from Blake and Whitman, reflecting Ginsberg’s new, unique spiritual and radical voice.
Levine, Elijah, ""Glimmerings, Hints, and Secret Amazements": William Blake, Walt Whitman, and the Spiritual Incantations of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl"" (2018). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 1242.
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