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A Supermarket In California

Allen Ginsberg

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A Supermarket in California
Added by: Mr. No-Name
In short, Ginsberg is not only shopping for produce, but as he states, for images, and I gather, inspiration, evinced by his placement of Lorca and Whitman...Whitman's role though, is transfigured toward the end of the poem, as is the tone, which becomes somewhat elegaic. Whitman becomes Ginsberg's Tireseas, guiding him through the land of the dead, signifying also, his inevitable fate there.
Added by: Ian
this poem seems to be ginsberg's response to whitman's

'crossing brooklin ferry'

draggin ol walt INTO the future just like he said we would back on that nineteenth-century boat

now they're both history

and more to me than they know

Added by: Rebecca
This poem is not only about Ginsberg's search for inspiration for his poetry but also for his life as a gay man in America, struggling in what is one of the most "normal" and "domestic" settings; a supermarket. Surrounded by signs of family life, Ginsberg turns to Whitman to lead him out of that world and INTO another.
A Supermarket in California by Alan Ginsberg
Added by: Ray Dunk
I believe that the placing of both F. Garcia Lorca and Walt Whitman in this poem is a tribute and acknowledgement to both poets of the influence they had on Ginsberg's own work. Whitman is the father of modern American poetry although he died in 1892.
It should also be remembered that Lorca wrote in NYC 1929/30 including the celebrated "Ode to Walt Whitman". Lorca adopted a freer style after his visit to the USA and only returned to a more classic Spanish style during his days in Andalucia before his assasination by Fascist partisans in 1936, shortly after the start of the Spanish Civil War.

Ray Dunk
Added by: Kat Artman
I believe this poem signifies the change in America... entire families shopping at night, something that until that point was unheard of... everyone in the poem was together and the same, "entire families" and "love past blue automobiles in driveways". Ginsberg was searching for inspiration, "and shopping for images", which he found in Whitman. They were the only two who were alone, everyone else was content to be the same as the people next to them. This can be taken into context of their writing, both Whitman and Ginsberg wrote about ALL of America, when other poets focused on love and war and similar inspirations.

I could be WAY off, though, I'm very new at this and only in ninth grade... my perspective is likely to be much different from people older than myself, so forgive me.
Added by: Mary
I found this poem odd. He uses metaphors and images to invoke emotion in the reader and to help make his point.
Added by: Kellen
Beautiful. This poem assaults the reader, right from the beginning, with a steady stream of complex ideas and novel parallels. It is hard not to get swept up in the movement, the flow of this thing (a living piece of poetry if ever there was one) - but if one does step back, the care with which this was crafted is obvious. "What peaches and what penumbras!" is, in and of itself, phenomenal. The contrast of bright, sweet fruit and an obscure word for darkness creates more conflict in one 5-word sentence than most poets achieve in an entire poem. Absolutely phenomenal, and a joy to read.
dominace,acceptance,and post-war America
Added by: austin
Ginsberg reveals his thoughts of Whitman in the first stanza as ashe links them to his headache. Ginsberg has mixed emotions for Whitman he trys ridiculing him as if he is trying to make him sound stupid almost illiterate. But yet he seeks his direction and says he wanders in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans, but are the cans refering to Whitmans work. Ginsberg also tries to tell us that Whitman is then and he himself is now and that Whitman should be forgotten that it is time for new work to take his place. In the line will we stroll dreaming the lost America with love past blue automobiles in driveways he is morethan likely using the color blue because it resembles simplicity and strength which he feels since the end of the war America was losing saying america was not as pure in his day as it was in Whitmans day. Ending the poem asking of what America did Whitman have when Charon Quit poling his ferry,and then to mention Lethe is ironic Charon polled his ferry across the river of styx to get to hades and Lethe being the river of forget fullness in hades showing us once again that it is time to forget Whitman and also the forget fullness of morals in america in the post war era of the 1950's
Ginsburg's broken view of America
Added by: Aaron Eaton
Ginsburg had done the literary thing, and the beatneck thing. Like Kerouac he had seen America, and now looking back uses Whitman to show what America once was. He strolls through a store filled with families at night something no done at the time. He a single gay man in America looks onto the new world he sees, and wonders if modernization and the coming of new times isn't a bad thing.
Added by: Lillith
Ginsberg is not saying to forget Whitman, he seeks inspiration from Whitman. In the last stanza he is asking Whitman what America he left upon his death and commenting on how America has changed since Whitman's time.

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