Refrain by Allen Ginsberg


The air is dark, the night is sad,
I lie sleepless and I groan.
Nobody cares when a man goes mad:
He is sorry, God is glad.
Shadow changes into bone.

Every shadow has a name;
When I think of mine I moan,
I hear rumors of such fame.
Not for pride, but only shame,
Shadow changes into bone.

When I blush I weep for joy,
And laughter drops from me like a stone:
The aging laughter of the boy
To see the ageless dead so coy.
Shadow changes into bone

Allen Ginsberg 1926-1997

Allen Ginsberg
Born: 3 June 1926, New Jersey, USA
Nationality: American
Died: 5 April 1997, New York, USA

Ginsberg was a poet, philosopher, and writer. In the 1940s as a student of Columbia College, he began a close friendship with WS Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, forming the core of the Beat Generation. He opposed militarism, economic materialism, and sexual repression. He embodied various aspects of this counterculture with his views on drugs, openness to Eastern religions, and hostility to bureaucracy. Ginsberg is best known for the poem ‘Howl’ which denounces the destructive forces of capitalism and conformity within the United States at the time

9 thoughts on “Refrain by Allen Ginsberg

            1. I was mentored by Allen and knew him personally, as he was a family friend. He was a pleasant person and I think that his perceived unpleasantness stemmed from his intolerance of incompetence. When I knew Allen, he was living in Upstate New York, reveling in the fact that few people knew who he was. He shopped, almost exclusively at a local general store in town and would tell me that he didn’t mind paying extra for things because the service he received was worth the added cost.

              Liked by 2 people

              1. Fair point. Living in the UK I can only go by the public perception rather than the private and also my tutor’s influence will have some bearing, I guess, she made it quite obvious she didn’t like him – probably on the grounds his being a man as she had it in for Shelley, Wordsworth, and most male poets. I needed to pass her class to get my degree, and I got my degree by surviving a semester of her misandry.

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