“Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgement! Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stunned governments!” – “Beat poet Allen Ginsberg had seen it all coming to an America enthralled to the idol of consumerism that he called..Moloch (after Moloch, or Molech, the all-consuming Canaanite fire god)” – The visionary litany (of “Howl part II”) continues to make sense, half a century (and more) on.
Here’s Moloch envisioned by Eric Drooker (the reading is of course by James Franco):
Here’s Moloch illustrated by Lynd Ward (an artist very much on Allen’s mind at the time of composition). “Lynd Ward’s images of the solitary artist dwarfed by the canyons of a Wall Street Megalopolis lay shadowed behind my own vision of Moloch”, he writes (in the 1996 introduction to Drooker’s edition of his Illuminated Poems). For more on Ward’s work, see Art Spiegelman’s essay on him here.
And here‘s a video of Allen reading the Moloch section (in Prague, in 1996, we think). Note him blowing his nose and wiping his glasses and then gathering up the momentum, barely missing a beat!
There are, of course, several other recordings (both audio and visual) of Allen reading this seminal poem ( and this seminal section of the poem) – to begin with this and this. For more details, check out our Howl pages on Allen Ginsberg dot org. (here, and, for a gathering of miscellaneous written materials on the poem, see here).