The motif of death and the brevity of youth are quite popular in the literature, including lyrics. The roots of the theme were marked by the ancient philosophers and mentioned in the Bible. In fact, it originated both from a renowned epicurean motto ‘Carpe diem’ and the Ecclesiastes book. The death was seen as horrible, sudden and inevitable, so people had to appreciate every single moment of their lives like it is the last one. However, in the Middle Ages the death was perceived as relief, the way to another, either a better or worse life. Later, in the epoch of Romantics, the motif of death was one of the leading themes, especially in poetry. Moreover, the theme of death and its perception extended to the ages until our time.

The temporality of life was also highlighted in the work of the Beat Generation who opposed the society of consumers and its stereotypes. They advocated a complete freedom of man and lived stormy appreciated life. Moreover, they often called upon to save the lives of others, and strongly opposed the violence and pressure. Nevertheless, the followers of the Beat Generation believed that true life must be bright and full regardless of its duration. The current essay analyzes the poems of the famous representative of the Beat Generation Allen Ginsberg and a follower of the subculture Charles Bukowski.

The poem ‘Father Death Blues’, written by Allen Ginsberg in 1976, was motivated by the death of the writer’s father. Thus, the author presents the concept of death as inevitable experience of losing another person. It is composed in the rhythm of blues characterized by numerous repetitions and elements of the stream of consciousness. Ginsberg (1976) writes:

Father Death, Don't cry any more

Mama's there, underneath the floor

Brother Death, please mind the store.

The words reflect the increase of tension, as if deaths are followed one after another. Only a person, who experiences it, remains alive and must endure and go through the despair. The second part of each phrase expresses consoling words that the author hears as the sympathy from other people. The important element is that the author appears negligible, but the loss of another person becomes a tragedy. Ginsberg also wrote about his own death in ‘Death & Fame’ (1997) in an ironic tone without expressing the fear of dying, telling us that his fame is not so precious as his memories and feelings. In conclusion, what makes death terrible for Allen Ginsberg is the loss of another person, without whom the life is not like it was.


Another perception of the death is presented in the poems of Charles Bukowski, in which the death is shown as an individual experience of the end of existence. His poem with the ostentatious title ‘The Night I Was Going To Die’ is the particular interest. It is worth noting that the author links the death with the night, which is associated with notions of romantic poets about the night that leaves man alone with himself. Bukowski writes:

the night I was going to die

I was sweating on the bed

and I could hear the crickets

and there was a cat fight outside.

As we notice, the author describes a new feeling of impending death among the usual things for him. Crickets are a symbol of home; thus, at night, the poet fearfully waits for the death. Images of cats and phone calls are typical for many poems of Bukowski, which show the routine. The lyrical hero of the poem is alone, no one can save him; no person even remembers him. When the terrible feeling of loneliness passes, everything is as before. However, it is even more depressing for the author. Thus, Charles Bukowski considers death to be an opposition to life and a person understands the meaning of life by comparing it with death.

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To sum up, representatives of American poetry of the last century perceived life as a value. However, their perception of death is different; it is presented as the experience of loss and fear of imminent disappearance from the world.

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