Essay about Allen Ginsberg's "A Supermarket in California"

1722 Words Feb 26th, 2011 7 Pages
Allen Ginsberg's "A Supermarket in California" Presented much like a spontaneous journal or diary entry, Allen Ginsberg's "A Supermarket in California" is a complex and multifaceted poem that stands as an indictment against American government and culture. The opening lines of the poem forward the aforementioned journal-like quality and also present the central focal point of tension in the poem as a whole. The opening line specifically expresses a tone of wistfulness or even sadness: "What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman" (Ginsberg, 1). The evocation of Whitman's name is an obvious symbol of optimism or even idealism. Due to the wide-ranging nature of Whitman's own writings, the sense of idealization is meant to extend …show more content…
This inclusion forthrightly states that poetry is to be regarded as "food." Obviously, given the poem's theme of isolation and loneliness, it is natural to assume that poetry and art are intended to be the food that relieves that kind of hunger, the hunger for images. Despite the presence of so much abundance and edible food, the speaker of the poem continues to follow his vision of Whitman: "I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans/ following you," (Ginsberg, 14). The urgency of spiritual need is greater than that of physical need. By following Whitman and his poetic vision, the narrator succeeds in finding spiritual nourishment. The nature of this spiritual food is shown in the following lines "We strode down the open corridors together in our/ solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen/delicacy, and never passing the cashier." (Ginsberg 18-20). One of the more interesting turns-of-phrase in the entire poem happens in these lines. The phrase "our/ solitary fancy" evokes the sense of paradox. It is strange to consider a sense of mutual or shared loneliness. The rest of the lines illustrate that the sharing of loneliness with other lone "seekers" is, in fact, the nature of spiritual nourishment. Poetic communication is, therefore, as valuable and as necessary as literal food. Line 20 shows in a most obvious way that Ginsberg intends his reader
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