Thursday, May 17

Sing a song of Whitman

Maybe I've got spring fever. I'm at work, almost finished with something I've been working on. But my mind keeps wandering. I just wandered over to the blog of r, the other contributor here at Poetic Feet. And I liked what I read so much that I thought it belonged here.
And so, I'm lifting it for your reading pleasure:


Well, it's been an exciting week all around: Wednesday was a marathon Whitman reading, and while we signed up by time slot rather than section, I got to read one of my favorite parts of Leaves of Grass, "Song of Myself":

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

[...]

Have you reckon'd a thousand acres much? have you reckon'd the earth much?
Have you practis'd so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?

Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,)
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books.
You shall not look through my eyes either, not take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.

[...]
Trippers and askers surround me,
People I meet, the effect upon me of my early life or the ward and city I live in, or the nation,
The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors old and new,
My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues,
The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love,
The sickness of one of my folks or myself, or ill-doing or loss or lack of money, or depressions and exaltations,
Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful news, the fitful events,
These come to me days and nights and go from me again,
But they are not the Me myself.

[...]
Backward I see in my own days when I sweated through fog with linguists and contenders,
I have no mockings or arguments, I witness and wait.

***
I love Whitman, for better or for worse: the ebullience, inclusiveness, and contradictions (do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes). Perhaps more on this later.

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