'BOMB' by Gregory Corso

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Budger of history Brake of time You Bomb
Toy of universe Grandest of all snatched sky I cannot hate you
Do I hate the mischievous thunderbolt the jawbone of an ass
The bumpy club of One Million B.C. the mace the flail the axe
Catapult Da Vinci tomahawk Cochise flintlock Kidd dagger Rathbone
Ah and the sad desparate gun of Verlaine Pushkin Dillinger Bogart
And hath not St. Michael a burning sword St. George a lance David a sling
Bomb you are as cruel as man makes you and you're no crueller than cancer
All Man hates you they'd rather die by car-crash lightning drowning
Falling off a roof electric-chair heart-attack old age old age O Bomb
They'd rather die by anything but you Death's finger is free-lance
Not up to man whether you boom or not Death has long since distributed its
categorical blue I sing thee Bomb Death's extravagance Death's jubilee
Gem of Death's supremest blue The flyer will crash his death will differ
with the climbor who'll fall to die by cobra is not to die by bad pork
Some die by swamp some by sea and some by the bushy-haired man in the night
O there are deaths like witches of Arc Scarey deaths like Boris Karloff
No-feeling deaths like birth-death sadless deaths like old pain Bowery
Abandoned deaths like Capital Punishment stately deaths like senators
And unthinkable deaths like Harpo Marx girls on Vogue covers my own
I do not know just how horrible Bombdeath is I can only imagine
Yet no other death I know has so laughable a preview I scope
a city New York City streaming starkeyed subway shelter
Scores and scores A fumble of humanity High heels bend
Hats whelming away Youth forgetting their combs
Ladies not knowing what to do with their shopping bags
Unperturbed gum machines Yet dangerous 3rd rail
Ritz Brothers from the Bronx caught in the A train
The smiling Schenley poster will always smile
Impish death Satyr Bomb Bombdeath
Turtles exploding over Istanbul
The jaguar's flying foot
soon to sink in arctic snow
Penguins plunged against the Sphinx
The top of the Empire state
arrowed in a broccoli field in Sicily
Eiffel shaped like a C in Magnolia Gardens
St. Sophia peeling over Sudan
O athletic Death Sportive Bomb
the temples of ancient times
their grand ruin ceased
Electrons Protons Neutrons
gathering Hersperean hair
walking the dolorous gulf of Arcady
joining marble helmsmen
entering the final ampitheater
with a hymnody feeling of all Troys
heralding cypressean torches
racing plumes and banners
and yet knowing Homer with a step of grace
Lo the visiting team of Present
the home team of Past
Lyre and tube together joined
Hark the hotdog soda olive grape
gala galaxy robed and uniformed
commissary O the happy stands
Ethereal root and cheer and boo
The billioned all-time attendance
The Zeusian pandemonium
Hermes racing Owens
The Spitball of Buddha
Christ striking out
Luther stealing third
Planeterium Death Hosannah Bomb
Gush the final rose O Spring Bomb
Come with thy gown of dynamite green
unmenace Nature's inviolate eye
Before you the wimpled Past
behind you the hallooing Future O Bomb
Bound in the grassy clarion air
like the fox of the tally-ho
thy field the universe thy hedge the geo
Leap Bomb bound Bomb frolic zig and zag
The stars a swarm of bees in thy binging bag
Stick angels on your jubilee feet
wheels of rainlight on your bunky seat
You are due and behold you are due
and the heavens are with you
hosanna incalescent glorious liaison
BOMB O havoc antiphony molten cleft BOOM
Bomb mark infinity a sudden furnace
spread thy multitudinous encompassed Sweep
set forth awful agenda
Carrion stars charnel planets carcass elements
Corpse the universe tee-hee finger-in-the-mouth hop
over its long long dead Nor
From thy nimbled matted spastic eye
exhaust deluges of celestial ghouls
From thy appellational womb
spew birth-gusts of of great worms
Rip open your belly Bomb
from your belly outflock vulturic salutations
Battle forth your spangled hyena finger stumps
along the brink of Paradise
O Bomb O final Pied Piper
both sun and firefly behind your shock waltz
God abandoned mock-nude
beneath His thin false-talc's apocalypse
He cannot hear thy flute's
happy-the-day profanations
He is spilled deaf into the Silencer's warty ear
His Kingdom an eternity of crude wax
Clogged clarions untrumpet Him
Sealed angels unsing Him
A thunderless God A dead God
O Bomb thy BOOM His tomb
That I lean forward on a desk of science
an astrologer dabbling in dragon prose
half-smart about wars bombs especially bombs
That I am unable to hate what is necessary to love
That I can't exist in a world that consents
a child in a park a man dying in an electric-chair
That I am able to laugh at all things
all that I know and do not know thus to conceal my pain
That I say I am a poet and therefore love all man
knowing my words to be the acquainted prophecy of all men
and my unwords no less an acquaintanceship
That I am manifold
a man pursuing the big lies of gold
or a poet roaming in bright ashes
or that which I imagine myself to be
a shark-toothed sleep a man-eater of dreams
I need not then be all-smart about bombs
Happily so for if I felt bombs were caterpillars
I'd doubt not they'd become butterflies
There is a hell for bombs
They're there I see them there
They sit in bits and sing songs
mostly German songs
And two very long American songs
and they wish there were more songs
especially Russian and Chinese songs
and some more very long American songs
Poor little Bomb that'll never be
an Eskimo song I love thee
I want to put a lollipop
in thy furcal mouth
A wig of Goldilocks on thy baldy bean
and have you skip with me Hansel and Gretel
along the Hollywoodian screen
O Bomb in which all lovely things
moral and physical anxiously participate
O fairylike plucked from the
grandest universe tree
O piece of heaven which gives
both mountain and anthill a sun
I am standing before your fantastic lily door
I bring you Midgardian roses Arcadian musk
Reputed cosmetics from the girls of heaven
Welcome me fear not thy opened door
nor thy cold ghost's grey memory
nor the pimps of indefinite weather
their cruel terrestial thaw
Oppenheimer is seated
in the dark pocket of Light
Fermi is dry in Death's Mozambique
Einstein his mythmouth
a barnacled wreath on the moon-squid's head
Let me in Bomb rise from that pregnant-rat corner
nor fear the raised-broom nations of the world
O Bomb I love you
I want to kiss your clank eat your boom
You are a paean an acme of scream
a lyric hat of Mister Thunder
O resound thy tanky knees
BOOM ye skies and BOOM ye suns
BOOM BOOM ye moons ye stars BOOM
nights ye BOOM ye days ye BOOM
BOOM BOOM ye winds ye clouds ye rains
go BANG ye lakes ye oceans BING
Barracuda BOOM and cougar BOOM
Ubangi BOOM orangutang
BING BANG BONG BOOM bee bear baboon
the tail the fin the wing
Yes Yes into our midst a bomb will fall
Flowers will leap in joy their roots aching
Fields will kneel proud beneath the halleluyahs of the wind
Pinkbombs will blossom Elkbombs will perk their ears
Ah many a bomb that day will awe the bird a gentle look
Yet not enough to say a bomb will fall
or even contend celestial fire goes out
Know that the earth will madonna the Bomb
that in the hearts of men to come more bombs will be born
magisterial bombs wrapped in ermine all beautiful
and they'll sit plunk on earth's grumpy empires
fierce with moustaches of gold

Editor 1 Interpretation

A Deep Dive into the Explosive Poem, "BOMB" by Gregory Corso

As I read Gregory Corso's poem, "BOMB," I couldn't help but feel a sense of awe and wonder at the way he crafted such a powerful and explosive piece of literature. The poem is both terrifying and exhilarating, and it speaks to the darker side of human nature - the desire for destruction and chaos. In this literary criticism and interpretation, I will delve deeper into the themes, symbolism, and language of the poem, and explore what Corso might have been trying to say through his words.

Background on the Poet

Before we dive into the poem, let's take a moment to explore the life and work of Gregory Corso. He was born on March 26, 1930, in New York City, and was one of the original members of the Beat Generation, a literary movement that emerged in the 1950s and rejected traditional values and norms. Along with Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs, Corso helped to shape the countercultural landscape of the time, and his poetry was characterized by its rawness, honesty, and emotional depth.

Overview of the Poem

"BOMB" was written in 1958 and was included in Corso's second book of poetry, "The Happy Birthday of Death." The poem is divided into three parts, and it explores the themes of destruction, power, and violence. The first part of the poem is written in the first person and describes the speaker's fascination with bombs and explosives. The second part of the poem shifts to the second person and addresses the reader directly, asking them if they have ever felt the same sense of power that comes from holding a bomb. The third and final part of the poem returns to the first person and describes the speaker's desire to explode a bomb and destroy everything in their path.

Themes and Symbolism

One of the most prominent themes in "BOMB" is the desire for power and control. The speaker is obsessed with bombs and the power they represent, and this obsession is reflected in the language of the poem. The use of short, staccato sentences and the repetition of phrases like "Bomb is power" and "Bomb is strength" create a sense of urgency and intensity, and they underscore the speaker's desire for control over their surroundings.

Another important theme in the poem is destruction. The speaker's fascination with bombs is not just about power and control, but also about the destruction that they can cause. This theme is reflected in the imagery of the poem, which is filled with violent and explosive imagery. The use of words like "blast," "explode," and "shatter" create a sense of chaos and destruction, and they underscore the speaker's desire to cause as much damage as possible.

The bomb itself is also an important symbol in the poem. It represents power, destruction, and violence, but it also represents the darker side of human nature. The bomb is a creation of man, and it reflects our innate desire for control and domination. In this sense, the bomb becomes a metaphor for the human condition, and the poem becomes a commentary on the destructive tendencies that are inherent in all of us.

Language and Style

One of the things that makes "BOMB" such a powerful poem is its use of language and style. The poem is written in a very visceral and raw style, and it uses short, punchy sentences to create a sense of urgency and immediacy. The use of repetition also adds to the intensity of the poem, and it creates a sense of momentum that propels the reader forward.

The language of the poem is also very evocative and vivid. The use of violent and explosive imagery creates a sense of chaos and destruction, and it underscores the speaker's desire to cause as much damage as possible. The language is also very sensory, and it appeals to the reader's senses of sight, sound, and touch. For example, the line "The world is a corpse exploding, firing off into space" creates a vivid mental image of destruction and chaos.


So what is Corso trying to say through "BOMB"? At its core, the poem is a meditation on power, destruction, and the darker side of human nature. The speaker's fascination with bombs represents our innate desire for control and domination, and the bomb itself becomes a metaphor for the human condition. The poem is a commentary on the destructive tendencies that are inherent in all of us, and it suggests that we are all capable of causing great harm if we give in to these tendencies.

In this sense, "BOMB" can be seen as a cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked power and the need for restraint and self-control. The poem suggests that we must be aware of our own destructive tendencies and work to keep them in check if we are to avoid causing harm to ourselves and others.


In conclusion, "BOMB" is a powerful and evocative poem that explores the themes of power, destruction, and the darker side of human nature. The use of language and style creates a sense of urgency and immediacy, and the imagery of the bomb underscores the poem's commentary on the human condition. Through his words, Corso reminds us of the dangers of unchecked power and the need for restraint and self-control. "BOMB" is a testament to the power of poetry to explore the depths of the human experience, and it remains a relevant and important work of literature today.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Bomb by Gregory Corso: A Poem of Destruction and Despair

Gregory Corso’s poem Bomb is a powerful and haunting work that captures the sense of dread and despair that pervaded the Cold War era. Written in 1958, at the height of the nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union, Bomb is a stark reminder of the destructive power of human technology and the fragility of human life.

The poem begins with a simple and ominous statement: “The bomb is a creature.” This line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as Corso personifies the bomb as a living, breathing entity with its own will and desires. The bomb is not just a weapon, but a force of nature, a “great god” that demands worship and sacrifice.

Corso’s use of language is particularly effective in conveying the horror and awe inspired by the bomb. He describes the bomb as “a giant egg” that “hatches out death,” and as a “sphinx” that “devours men.” These images are both vivid and disturbing, evoking the sense of helplessness and terror that people felt in the face of nuclear war.

The poem also touches on the political and social context of the Cold War era. Corso refers to the “red night” and the “black rain” that will follow the bomb’s detonation, alluding to the fear of communism and the devastation that would result from a nuclear attack. He also mentions the “great cities” that will be destroyed, highlighting the potential loss of human culture and civilization.

Despite the bleakness of the poem, there is a sense of defiance and resistance that runs through it. Corso writes, “We will not build a peaceful world by following a negative path,” suggesting that there is still hope for humanity if we reject the destructive power of the bomb and work towards peace and understanding.

Overall, Bomb is a powerful and thought-provoking work that captures the sense of fear and uncertainty that defined the Cold War era. Corso’s use of language and imagery is both evocative and unsettling, reminding us of the terrible consequences of war and the importance of working towards a more peaceful world.

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