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Kaddish and Other Poems

4.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,851 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
Great strange visionary poems by the author of Howl, “in the midst of the broken consciousness of mid-twentieth century . . .”

In the midst of the broken consciousness of mid-twentieth century suffering anguish of separation from my own body and its natural infinity of feeling its own self one with all self, I instinctively seeking to reconstitute that blissful union which
Paperback, 99 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by City Lights (first published January 1st 1961)
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Catch-22 by Joseph HellerJames and the Giant Peach by Roald DahlFranny and Zooey by J.D. SalingerValley of the Dolls by Jacqueline SusannThe Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
Best Books of 1961
19th out of 75 books — 53 voters
On the Road by Jack KerouacNaked Lunch by William S. BurroughsHowl and Other Poems by Allen GinsbergThe Dharma Bums by Jack KerouacA Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Beat Generation Literature
6th out of 39 books — 26 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Aug 14, 2015 Matthew rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Allen Ginsberg's "Kaddish" is a remarkable reimagining of The Mourner's Kaddish, "said as part of the mourning rituals in Judaism in all prayer services, as well as at funerals" (Wikipedia). The poem is dedicated to Ginsberg's mother, Naomi Ginsberg (1894—1956); in it, Ginsberg extensively details his mother's hardships, with emphasis on her ongoing struggle with mental illness...
Strange now to think of you, gone without corsets & eyes, while I walk on the sunny pavement of Greenwich Village
Dustin Wells
Feb 01, 2011 Dustin Wells rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i make my kids listen to the cd. they're going to be brilliant or crazy.

Feb 07, 2016 Dylan rated it really liked it
Shelves: beat
"No more to say and nothing to weep for"

Kaddish - that hymn to the dead, in memory of his mother, a stunning walk through mid 50s New York as Ginsberg imagined her arriving half a century earlier "a little girl, from Russia, frightened on the dock"..this is to be sung in that flat beat rhythm and you can hear it when it's read..mother meets sister again in death..her nervous breakdowns and dark paranoia that scarred his boyhood, his visions of electric shock and Metrasol..her visions of God, the
Mohammad Ali
Oct 24, 2015 Mohammad Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
از برخی جهات برای من یادآور « مرگ آرام » سیمون دو بووار بود. در هر دو فرزندی آخرین روزهای زندگی مادر رو روایت می کنه.در هر دو فرزند نوعی گریز از مادر رو در خودش حس می کنه و از بیمارستانش فاصله می گیره. اما از طرف دیگر تفاوتی فاحش هم هست. در اثر دو بووار با مادری معمولی روبروئیم، مادری مثل همه ی مادرها. اما در اثر گینزبرگ با مادری روبروئیم گرفتار جنون. مادری که در نهایت هم در بیمارستان روانی و در تنهایی جان می دهد. همچنین در اثر گینزبرگ انبوهی از ارجاعات به گذشته و یادآوری های مکرر از خاطرات دیده ...more
Apr 12, 2007 Alison rated it it was amazing
In college, I was ridiculous and decided I would contrarily dislike Ginsberg--never having read anything by him--just because everybody else loved him. Then I took a class on modern American poetry in which we read this book, and THANK GOD. I read the first line:

Strange now to think of you, gone without corsets & eyes, while I walk on the sunny pavement of Greenwich Village.

...and that was that. I was saved from my own stupidity. It's possible that this book is really more of a four-star tit
Apr 27, 2015 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More and more, I think that Allen Ginsberg was the best of the beat generation litterateurs. Others were almost as talented, such as Kerouac, John Clellon Holmes, and William Burroughs -- but Ginsberg was the most sincere and committed. Kaddish and Other Poems: 50th Anniversary Edition proves it: It is a tortured valentine to his poor, mad mother who died in 1956 in an insane asylum.

The beats toyed with Buddhism and the other Eastern religions, but Ginsberg got the message. In a poem dedicated
Jul 14, 2015 JJ rated it liked it
Alike to Howl, Kaddish is another collection of two halves. Kaddish itself is a long and meandering poem, straddling the sublime and the dull, steering a long way clear of perfection in a way that only Ginsberg could manage. All of the ingredients were there: great subject matter, great passion, and a burgeoning need to write it. But the result is uneven. It often feels more like therapy for Ginsberg, revisiting his broken childhood, than something which is relatable to most other people.

The poe
Aaron Eriksson
Nov 29, 2011 Aaron Eriksson rated it it was amazing
Howl will tell you about sex and drugs and the dregs of America, but Kaddish is hands down Ginsberg's greatest Poem. It's a dedication to his mother, completed three years after her death, and somehow crams more than a lifetime's worth of memories and nightmares into 30 pages, the most painful relationship of mother and son ever set to page, only for its honesty about paranoia, about sex, about the sense of loss mixed with relief and the sadness over brother and step-father already moving on wit ...more
Nov 03, 2009 Lauren rated it it was amazing
Haunting and destroying. But Ginsberg teaches us how to pick the pieces up, even after one's soul, life, country crashes to the ground. Poet as priest; poem as prophecy hold up rather well here. Maybe it doesn't say such good things about our abilities to evolve, though, when we're given over to economic forces...
Greg Z
Nov 12, 2015 Greg Z rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Ginsberg, back from Europe, is angry. It is 1960 and by now his friend Kerouac is on a downward spiral. His mother, Naomi, has passed away, insane at the end. And Ginsberg himself apparently didn't find whatever he was looking for in Paris or Amsterdam. He writes in "Man's Glory": 'America... the Anger, the Anger, Beware!' It's ominous: JFK's assassination and Vietnam are both on the horizon, huge changes are in the air. Reading Ginsberg's poetry in the order in which it was written is much like ...more
Jan 27, 2015 Esthër rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, read-in-2015
"con tus ojos siendo arrastrada por los policías hasta una ambulancia
con tus ojos amarrada a la mesa de operaciones
con tus ojos de páncreas extirpado
con tus ojos de operación de apéndice
con tus ojos de aborto
con tus ojos de ovarios extirpados
con tus ojos de electroshock
con tus ojos de lobotomía
con tus ojos de divorcio
con tus ojos de derrame
con tus ojos sola
con tus ojos
con tus ojos
con tu Muerte llena de Flores"

Kaddish se lleva todas las estrellas del universo, son 'los otros poemas' l
Dec 13, 2012 Robert rated it it was ok
Appearances to the contrary, "Kaddish" was not a poem that commemorated a life, but one that attempts to exorcise a ghost. The spirit was Ginsberg's mother, a tortured soul who haunted the poet. Kaddish is at its heart a repudiation of a smothering mother, a feckless father, useless brother and antiquated traditions. The poem was an exercise in a kind of separation through sadomasochism.

It could be said that Ginsberg was both a product and victim of his time. A transitional figure when transgres
May 05, 2013 Ben rated it really liked it
"Kaddish" is considered by some to be Ginsberg's greatest poem. While a very strong, honest, and deeply personal work, I prefer the wild imagery of "Howl" and "Reality Sandwiches." The title poem is very sincere and emotionally gripping, but very, very sad, talking reflectively, painfully, and mournfully about the death and sad and tortured life of his mother, Naomi Ginsberg, a woman who really struggled with her mental health (I didn't know she had a lobotomy!). Of all the poems contained in th ...more
May 20, 2014 Sevenponds rated it really liked it
When readers discover beat poet Allen Ginsberg, they often first come across the poem “Howl“. The elegiac rhapsody was (in)famous in its time for its explicit language and an ensuing obscenity trial that, ironically, only threw Ginsberg’s work straight into national public attention. Indeed, the first time I learned of “Howl” was not in English but in History class, and not as a poem but as an important cultural artifact testing the limits of the first amendment. (Others may have watched James F ...more
What a bold, beautiful and bluntly honest follow up to Howl. Many consider this a superior poem, I might have to agree with that, though with all things poetry i need 10 more readings to feel like I finally get it, on more than just the surface level. I also feel like six days is far too slim of a timespan to digest this work. But I will keep it on my bookshelf by my bed so I can open it up at any time and reread it.

On its own merits, Kaddish and the poems that follow, to me, is a fine collecti
City Lights
Jan 30, 2012 City Lights rated it it was amazing
"Alongside Howl, this book is generally regarded as a major work in the Ginsberg canon. Kaddish relates to Ginsberg's mother Naomi, she suffered severe mental illness and died in 1956. Her life and the manner of her death had a devastating impact upon a young Allen Ginsberg and he wrestled with thoughts of her all his life."
- Pauline Reeves, Beat Scene No.64, Spring 2011
Aug 15, 2015 Maryam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
و چگونه مرگ آن شفایی است که تمام آوازه خوانان در رویای آنند.
بخوان، به یاد بیاور پیشگویی را در سرود عبری یا کتاب پاسخ های بودایی یا در تخیلاتم؛ از یک برگ خشک در سپیده دم.
Jan 13, 2016 keren rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, fav, lgbt-lit, 2016
'Strange now to think of you, gone without corsets & eyes, while I walk on the sunny pavement of Greenwich Village.'


yo. real talk.

i read 'kaddish' (the poem, not the entire collection) for the first time a few weeks back in blackwells and by the end of it i felt like someone had just slapped a wet fish across my face repeatedly

in a good way or something

finally finished the rest of the collection and my face is lit like :| rn help

ginsberg just gets to me and i don't know if it's because of
Jan 25, 2008 Diane rated it it was amazing
Heartbreaking and beautiful book about the Jewish experience of guilt, death, and self-loathing. He really got it.
Aug 02, 2008 Ian rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Although HOWL is his most famous poem, I think history will eventually pick this poem as his greatest work.
Jan 07, 2010 Sharon rated it liked it
"Soyez muette pour moi, Idole contemplative..."

"Be mute for me, contemplative Idol..."
adrian anderson
Jan 06, 2014 adrian anderson rated it really liked it
Coming into "Kaddish" after enjoying the phenomenal "Howl and Other Poems", a change in tone is immediatley evideant. With even more emphasis on the rhythem and beat of the poem, Ginsberg delievers his version of a traditional Jewish blessing for his deceased mother, going into her struggles with psychotic episodes and electroshock therapy as Ginsberg grows up. It's a facinating, vivid, incoherent, abstract portrait of his mother while also being a veircle for him to express his own personal phi ...more
It really comes down to your opinion of the title piece. If you think it's great, the other poems won't matter. But if you don't like it, the other poems won't make up for it.

Of the 124 pages, 30 are "Kaddish' and another 30 are the two essays about it. "Laughing Gas" checks in at 17 pages. The other 47 pages are comprised of 14 shorter poems. Both essays are new to the 50th anniversary edition. Or were new when it was first published. Bill Morgan sheds light on Naomi's life before moving on to
Feb 18, 2014 James rated it liked it
"Kaddish" is, like many of Ginsberg's poetry collections, very uneven, and I say this as a Ginsberg fan. The title poem, which brought me to tears and made me laugh out loud, might actually be superior to "Howl." "At Apollinaire's Grave" and "The Lion For Real" are especially good, but the last four poems, "Lysergic Acid," "Magic Psalm," "The Reply," and "The End," give the impression that they were composed under the influence of drugs, and as such aren't very coherent.

Ginsberg wrote a great d
Jun 12, 2013 Mcatania21 rated it it was ok
Hoagland equates artistic temperaments to chakras in the body, and because I practice yoga religiously, I appreciate this taxonomy, but he doesn’t fully develop his theory, and it leaves me confused rather than enlightened. I don’t think a poet uses just one energy point (“genitals, belly, heart, throat, third eye”) to develop a poem; rather, creativity can come from everywhere. Is it accurate to say that Ginsberg is a poet of the genitals because his poetry is laced with sexual references? No, ...more
Kevin Hinman
Nov 07, 2012 Kevin Hinman rated it really liked it
Allen Ginsberg's follows up his masterpiece, Howl, with a close second. Kaddish is a stark record of Ginsberg's troubled childhood, a mourning poem for his mother, a much needed severance of the Freudian umbilical cord. The poem's opening, in which Ginsberg describes a East Village morning walk, lost in thought after a drug-fueled allnighter, is a beautiful rush to the senses, and the bulk narrative of the poem, his mother's insanity and hospitalizations, are heartbreaking and vivid.
As much of K
Dec 20, 2013 Jsavett1 rated it really liked it
Kaddish is nothing else but Ginsburg's attempt to hallow, sanctify and order the chaotic life and death of his mother, Naomi. It's important to know a BIT about the Mourner's Kaddish. The "prayer" itself says nothing about death and unlike, say Psalm 23, it makes no overt attempts to provide solace or refuge for the mourner. Translated, it is simply and completely a forced recitation of God's ultimate power and unknowability. It states that the universe has order---not that it's fair or conceiva ...more
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
In this stellar little collection of poetry spanning the years 1958-1960, you can tell that Ginsberg is tripping balls – in fact, it includes poems titled ‘Laughing Gas‘, ‘Mescaline‘ and ‘Lysergic Acid‘. The three poems that follow, completing the collection, were written “to record visions experienced after drinking Ayahuasca, an Amazon spiritual potion,” according to the author.

Howl and Other Poems is the best place to start with Ginsberg – read this next, and you’ll be a full convert.
Frank Vasquez
Sep 03, 2014 Frank Vasquez rated it it was amazing
Kaddish is itself the embodiment of the tragic. It's visceral while still somehow managing to be intro- and retrospective. The poem is a true work of art and easily proves itself Ginsberg's best piece. Imagery with attention to form. The rest contained therein are all haunting and powerful pieces that are awesomely vivacious and vicious. There is a clarity to these poems despite the maddening pace and structures of each that is overwhelmingly beautiful.
Apr 09, 2012 Matt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Beginning with contemplations on the life of his mother, especially towards the end of her life, and her death, Ginsberg embarks on a thorough interrogation of the value of life, the meaning of death and non-existence, and the afterlife. These are the biggest and oldest questions, and some of the themes and phrases Ginsberg employs are olden as well; however, much of the imagery and phrasing is fresh. The questions are addressed from so many sides and so repetitively that it feels like the chipp ...more
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Irwin Allen Ginsberg was the son of Louis and Naomi Ginsberg, two Jewish members of the New York literary counter-culture of the 1920s. Ginsberg was raised among several progressive political perspectives. A supporter of the Communist party, Ginsberg's mother was a nudist whose mental health was a concern throughout the poet's childhood. According to biographer Barry Miles, "Naomi's illness gave A ...more
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“What came is gone forever every time” 13 likes
“Strange now to think of you, gone without corsets & eyes, while I walk on
the sunny pavement of Greenwich Village.
downtown Manhattan, clear winter noon, and I've been up all night, talking,
talking, reading the Kaddish aloud, listening to Ray Charles blues
shout blind on the phonograph”
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