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Poetry Analysis: Cosmopolitan Greetings by Allen Ginsberg

'Cosmopolitan Greetings' is a good example of American poet Allen Ginsberg's rebellious nature.

This poem by Ginsberg is an open call to rebel, and he asks for not only a rebellion against governments, but against organized religion. All this in the very first line of the poem, though some may say he undermines his stance in line two, by writing "stay irresponsible". Ginsberg, though, is using the two words as an answer to the Establishment. One way of getting people to avoid rebelling against anything is to be told that they are not responsible.

A Condemnation of Dogma

Allen Ginsberg is obviously condemning all forms of dogma, and says in line four that "Absolutes are Coercion". But, he adds that change itself must be absolute. He is also saying that people should be true to themselves, and believe in what they really believe in, and not follow things because everyone around them is doing so.

Ginsberg comes up with the line: "If we don't show anyone, we're free to write anything." This is a line that will strike a chord with writers, particularly insecure ones. Ginsberg is suggesting that even if some people are scared of openly rebelling, then even words written in private can still become a rebellious act.

'Cosmopolitan Greetings' tells people that they should observe, but that they should also look after themselves physically. Ginsberg didn't practice what he preached, so he is telling people to avoid his mistakes. A dissenting voice will be silenced by poor health, so its value will diminish.

Importance of the Beauty of Words

The way that people should write should not be too verbose, as Ginsberg explains in the line: "Maximum information, minimum number of syllables." The final lines of 'Cosmopolitan Greetings' reminds writers to enjoy the beauty of words. Ginsberg believes that when words are used in a beautiful way that they will have a better chance of making a connection with people. This means also that any message from a writer or poet will have a better chance of being appreciated.

Ginsberg pours his words out in this poem, mostly in short sentences, which makes it easier for each line to be absorbed by the reader. In fact the poem contains some lines that have the feel of slogans, such as: "First thought, best thought." Some of the lines are also profound, including "Universe is Person" and "Mind is outer space". Ginsberg is saying that each person has their own little universe, because he or she can make a difference, and that with our mind there are no limits.

Copyright © Paul Rance/




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Allen Ginsberg Books

Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems (Penguin Modern Classics) ~ Allen Ginsberg
Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems (Penguin Modern Classics) ~ Allen Ginsberg


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