“I SAW THE BEST MINDS OF MY GENERATION DESTROYED BY MADNESS”: FIRST EDITION OF COLLECTED POEMS 1947-1980, SIGNED BY GINSBERG
GINSBERG, Allen. Collected Poems 1947-1980. New York: Harper & Row, (1984). Thick octavo, original black cloth, original dust jacket.
First edition of this compilation of works from all Ginsberg's poetry books from 1947-80, including Howl, his acknowledged masterpiece Kaddish, and the first publication of his “Many Loves” manuscript, signed on the title page: "Allen Ginsberg. 3/10/85. AH. N.Y," with Ginsberg's personal seal stamped in red.
"Allen Ginsberg was always a bug in the machine… a lyric poet of the old school preoccupied with passion, place and fate." This volume of his Collected Poems, 1947-1980 notably includes Howl, which "took the world from the moment it was born in 1955,… [and] Kaddish, the long lament for his dead mother that must still be regarded as his masterpiece" (New York Times). Ginsberg arranged these and the works of other poetry books in chronological order "to compose an autobiography… Howl, Kaddish, Reality Sandwiches, Planet News, The Fall of America, Mind Breaths, and Plutonian Ode, backbone of three decades' writing." Also included are poems printed in Empty Mirror and The Gates of Wrath, along with those in Angkor Wat, Iron Horse, Airplane Dreams, together with interleaf poetry, Poems All Over the Place, works from journals and letter books, "The Names" and motifs from Howl. Additionally featured is a sequence containing "Sunflower Sutra" and "America," and Ginsberg's "Many Loves" manuscript, published here for the first time. With an appendix including extensive notes, numerous illustrations and William Carlos Williams' Introductions to Empty Mirror and Howl. The "AH" on the title page refers to William Blake's illustrated poem "Ah! Sun-flower," which greatly influenced Ginsberg. In 1948, Ginsberg claimed to have had a hallucinatory experience that involved hearing Blake reading "Ah, Sun-flower" and two other poems. During the days-long experience, Ginsberg claimed to have witnessed the interconnectedness of the universe. Ginsberg's hallucination was not drug-induced, although he later experimented with different drugs attempting repeat the experience. Notably, Ginsberg's mother suffered from epilepsy, a condition that is sometimes heritable. Ginsberg wrote his "Sunflower Sutra" in 1955, as an homage to Blake's work. Additionally, Ginsberg was known for doing readings of "Ah, Sun-flower." Ginsberg's use of a Japanese-style chop here is uncommon and likely reflects his longstanding commitment to Tibetan Buddhism.
Very nearly fine condition.