“Sailing to Byzantium”, “A Supermarket in California” and “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” “Sailing to Byzantium” by William Butler Yeats, “A Supermarket in California” by Allen Ginsberg, and “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson all describe a journey from the material to the spiritual. Each poem suggests that a purely materialistic view of life cannot serve the artist or society, or result in lasting art. One of Yeats’ most famous poems, “Sailing to Byzantium” begins somewhere in the West (Ireland): “THAT is no country for old men.” The implication is that whatever society the poem starts in does not care about anything but the immediate, only that which brings pleasure: “Caught in that sensual music all neglect/...The end:
..... but to eternity, through art. Clearly death is the only mate who allowed the poet to experience eternity. As Ginsberg says of the poets, these poets are “lonely”; in the end, these speakers all have eternity, through art, instead of an earthly mate. Yeats commends this state of things, contrasting it to “the young/ In one another’s arms.” It is the mature poet’s duty to make art, not to mate or focus on what “dies.” The speaker in Dickinson too accepts this state of affairs. Ginsberg is the most remorseful about this, calling it by the name “lonely,” yet none of these poets would accept the “Aisles full of husbands” or wives—a guarantee of false abundance of the average—in exchange for the value of a life spent creating art of great merit.