Day 5

Allen Ginsberg's Poetry Lesson Plan

Discussion of Thought Questions

  1. 1

    Define the word “anthem.” In what ways is the poem “America” an anthem?

    An anthem is an enthusiastic song for a particular cause (i.e., the National Anthem is the Star-Spangled Banner). Most anthems are considered uplifting and celebratory. This poem, highly critical of America, may be a pessimistic anthem; yet, the ending -- where the poet vows to join the fight to improve the country -- can be seen as a promise and declaration of loyalty.

  2. 2

    What is the significance of the cultural references in the poem? Do they establish setting? Do they offer particular points of criticism? What view of America do you have from the cultural details in the poem?

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