Alcatraz and Rose
August 12, 2019 8:30 PM   Subscribe

What does the "Rose" in Allen Ginsberg's 1954 poem On Burroughs' Work refer to?

The second stanza of the poem reads:

Prisons and visions presented
with rare descriptions
corresponding exactly to those
of Alcatraz and Rose.

Alcatraz is clear (prison), but who/what is Rose. Any idea? I dug around a bit but am not familiar with Burroughs' work at all (nor the Beats, in general), so might have missed something super obvious. Halp?
posted by The Toad to Writing & Language (7 answers total)
Might be a reach, but Pantopon Rose is a character in Naked Lunch.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:36 PM on August 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also, Alcatraz had a rose garden.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:57 PM on August 12, 2019

"Alcatraz" means Calla Lily in Spanish.
posted by rhizome at 9:09 PM on August 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

I always thought it was a reference to Genet's Miracle of the Rose.
posted by effluvia at 9:14 PM on August 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

rhizome, it actually means pelican. There are TONS of sea birds on Alcatraz.
posted by ATX Peanut at 5:50 AM on August 13, 2019

William Blake's poem "The Sick Rose" played a big role in Ginsberg's Blake vision:

"Around this time, Ginsberg also had what he referred to as his “Blake vision," an auditory hallucination of William Blake reading his poems "Ah! Sunflower," "The Sick Rose," and “Little Girl Lost.” Ginsberg noted the occurrence several times as a pivotal moment for him in his comprehension of the universe, affecting fundamental beliefs about his life and his work. While Ginsberg claimed that no drugs were involved, he later stated that he used various drugs in an attempt to recapture the feelings inspired by the vision." (cite)
posted by Riverine at 6:56 AM on August 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

It may also mean pelican, but I was going for a flower theme, and the lily definition is real, too. It's too complicated and scattered across pages to paste here as a derail, but if you google the terms you'll find that there's all kinds of votes for either depending on context. The island does appear to be named after the bird definition, but even that's a little fuzzy.
posted by rhizome at 6:51 PM on August 13, 2019

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