skip to main | skip to sidebar
Home » , » A Supermarket in California Summary and Analysis


"A Supermarket in California" was written by Allen Ginsberg in 1955 while he was living in Berkeley, California. It was initially included as one of "different sonnets" in Ginsberg's 1956 distribution of "Wail and Different Sonnets" by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and City Lights Books. On the same day that he wrote "A Supermarket," Ginsberg also wrote "A Strange New Cottage in Berkeley," one of his other famous poems. Both were some of his first attempts at using the long line structure that would become Ginsberg's signature and be exemplified by his poem "Howl."

The poem "A Supermarket in California" is both an ode to Walt Whitman, Ginsberg's poetic hero and major influence, and an early experiment with many of the themes that would later dominate his work. Ginsberg's writing was initially influenced by Whitman, who is regarded as America's first original poet. The structured line and stanza, which was the standard form for poetry at the time, was abandoned by Whitman, a poet who worked with meter and rhythm.

Because of his writing style and way of life, Whitman became known as an eccentric. Romantic poets had a big impact on Whitman, and a lot of his poetry is about nature and how industrialized society is taking away everything that is good about America and natural. Furthermore, Whitman's sonnets frequently celebrated a physically expressive method of being, utilizing hidden references to advance both an otherworldly and sexual opportunity. Leaves of Grass, like Whitman's earliest poetry, "Howl," and his most well-known work, was regarded as pornographic and obscene by nineteenth-century standards. Modern Whitman scholarship occasionally challenges the notion that Whitman himself was gay or bisexual. Despite this, it is generally accepted that Whitman was neither.

Ginsberg set out to stylistically and thematically carry on Whitman's legacy. Whitman's use of varying line and breath lengths served as an inspiration for Ginsberg's long line. Ginsberg wrote about the effects of corporate and industrial growth that Whitman could only foresee in his own work, thematically, in an effort to continue Whitman's poetic assault on industrialized society. These topics are addressed in "A Supermarket in California," with its depictions of domesticated life symbolized by food taken out of its natural setting. In addition, "A Supermarket" makes reference to a concealed sexualized world that is concealed in the language of everyday objects.

In "A Supermarket," Ginsberg also pays tribute to another influence, Garcia Lorca. Lorca was a persuasive Spanish writer in the mid twentieth hundred years. Right-wing Spanish Nationalists killed Lorca at the start of the Spanish Civil War for his leftist political views. In his poem "America," Ginsberg, who throughout his life supported leftist politics, included a line about the Spanish Loyalists. Lorca was an impact on Ginsberg basically for his own praise to Whitman in his own verse. Lorca, like Ginsberg, saw Whitman's disdain for poetic structure and rules and his controversial subject matter, which valued free thought and expression over cultural conformity, as influences.


Stanza 1:

The speaker walks alone down back roads in a difficult mood, thinking of the poet Walt Whitman. He or she enters a brightly lit supermarket hungry, tired, and dreaming of Whitman's poetry. He thinks he saw the Spanish poet Federico Garca Lorca (1898–1936) among the watermelons and admires all the people and families he sees. The speaker's perspective on Whitman seems somewhat out of place in relation to the streets and supermarket: In my ravenous weariness, and looking for pictures, I went into the neon organic product general store, longing for your counts!" The speaker's thoughts are largely on poetry in this sentence. He enters a supermarket, but he doesn't care about the food. He is, instead, "shopping for images," or looking for poetry ideas.

Stanza 2:

The speaker imagines Whitman asking the grocers questions like, "Who killed the pork chops?" while appearing lonely and filthy. likewise, "Are you my Angel?" The speaker envisions the accompanying Whitman; Additionally, he imagines security guards following him. Together, Whitman and the speaker taste artichokes and pocket extravagant food sources. They never pause to pay.

As the speaker imagines Whitman shopping for food in the supermarket, Stanza 2 becomes more intimate. He has lost interest in Whitman's work; he is by all accounts contacting associate with Whitman by and by. He wanders back roads in his poetry dreams, which suggests that he is separated from other people in some way. Lines that refer to Whitman as a "lonely old grubber... eyeing the grocery boys" convey a sense of trust and friendship rather than blame because of these similarities. Whitman is a writer for the speaker to gain from in verse 1, yet he turns into a companion in refrain 2.

Stanza 3:

The speaker asks Whitman where they should go because the supermarket is about to close. Which direction does your beard point this evening? he inquires. Contacting Whitman's book, the writer feels ludicrous. Feeling alone, he wonders if they will continue to walk through empty streets. He wonders if they will return home “dreaming of the lost America of love” as they pass residential (suburban) homes and driveways. The speaker's views on Whitman come together to form a complicated mix. The speaker becomes happy with seeing Whitman as a companion while likewise retaining his profound consciousness of the more established writer's impact over him. The speaker will follow Whitman, as indicated by the questions at the beginning of stanza 3. They suggest that the speaker is going to keep learning from Whitman. They demonstrate that he is sufficiently at ease with his imagined Whitman.

Whitman is called "dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher" by the speaker. He closes the sonnet by requesting Whitman what kind from America he had when the Greek god Charon deserted him on the bank of the waterway Lethe.

In the end, he continues to be familiar and respectful, referring to Whitman as his "dear father" and "lonely old courage-teacher." This demonstrates that Whitman has a significant impact on the speaker, just like family does. As he tries to be brave in his life and work, he might feel supported by Whitman. Taken all in all, the speaker's relationship with Whitman appears to have changed and extended by the sonnet's end while staying muddled to characterize.

A Supermarket in California


Post a Comment

Back To Top