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