Hair

Corso, Gregory

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Mahl, Evan
  • Date of entry: Jul-02-1997
  • Last revised: Aug-23-2006

Summary

The poem, through an account of the narrator’s experiences with losing hair, explores issues such as aging, sexuality, and our impotence when faced with the vagaries of nature as it transforms our bodies. Ranging from ancient Egyptian lore to dime store pharmacies, Corso weaves a kaleidoscope of images about how humans treat and worry about their hair and how hair has been a mythopoetic vehicle for millennia.

Much of the poem employs angry though humorous language whereby the narrator speaks to his hair and pleads with the gods to reverse his fate. Corso writes, "To lie in bed and be hairless is a blunder only God could allow--"; and later, "Damned be hair! . . . Hair that costs a dollar fifty to be murdered!" The poem ends with an angry diatribe against hair and an inspired denigration of its mythological power.

Commentary

Gregory Corso, along with Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, and David Siegel, was an early pioneer of Beat Poetry. His contact with Ginsberg proved to be the most critical since Ginsberg significantly nurtured the young Corso’s writing. Corso has written many poems with one word as their title, including "Sun," "Marriage," "Bomb," and "Power." The single word becomes a beacon which transmits an extended meditation on a unified theme. In "Hair," Corso explores many of the nuances both of having hair and losing it, of hair’s erotic life and its life as detritus in someone’s soup.

Primary Source

Mindfield: New & Selected Poems

Publisher

Thunder's Mouth

Place Published

New York

Edition

1960