Homework

By Allen Ginsberg 1926–1997 Allen Ginsberg

Homage Kenneth Koch

If I were doing my Laundry I’d wash my dirty Iran
I’d throw in my United States, and pour on the Ivory Soap, scrub up Africa, put all the birds and elephants back in the jungle,
I’d wash the Amazon river and clean the oily Carib & Gulf of Mexico,   
Rub that smog off the North Pole, wipe up all the pipelines in Alaska,   
Rub a dub dub for Rocky Flats and Los Alamos, Flush that sparkly Cesium out of Love Canal
Rinse down the Acid Rain over the Parthenon & Sphinx, Drain Sludge out of the Mediterranean basin & make it azure again,
Put some blueing back into the sky over the Rhine, bleach the little Clouds so snow return white as snow,
Cleanse the Hudson Thames & Neckar, Drain the Suds out of Lake Erie   
Then I’d throw big Asia in one giant Load & wash out the blood & Agent Orange,
Dump the whole mess of Russia and China in the wringer, squeeze out the tattletail Gray of U.S. Central American police state,
& put the planet in the drier & let it sit 20 minutes or an Aeon till it came out clean.

Boulder, April 26, 1980

Allen Ginsberg, “Homework” from Collected Poems, 1947-1980. Copyright © 1984 by Allen Ginsberg. Used with the permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source: Selected Poems 1947-1995 (2001)

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Poet Allen Ginsberg 1926–1997

SCHOOL / PERIOD Beat

Subjects Nature, History & Politics, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Allen  Ginsberg

Biography

One of the most respected Beat writers and acclaimed American poets of his generation, Allen Ginsberg enjoys a prominent place in post-World War II American culture. He was born in 1926 in Newark, New Jersey, and raised in nearby Paterson. The son of an English teacher and Russian expatriate, Ginsberg’s early life was marked by his mother’s psychological troubles, including a series of nervous breakdowns. In 1943, while studying . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, History & Politics, Social Commentaries

SCHOOL / PERIOD Beat

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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