✻ [BOOKS] ✯ Leaves of Grass By Walt Whitman ❅ – Agedanna.info
Too long ago to remember All I recall was the flow I ve not read anything from this author since I was about 16 Nearly 40 years ago I loved it Sometimes things I loved then aren t what I love now So, I don t re read I was softer then Now, I might find my eyes rolling right out of my eye sockets I love Robert Service That s about as deep as I go now Still, he has a few that I ve read multiple times, and every time I think of them, and start uttering the words, I have nightmares When Leaves of Grass was first published, critics applauded Whitman only that he did not burn the mass of stupid filth immediately upon completion They primarily objected to its sensual and occasionally rather overtly homoerotic content Nowadays, of course, it seems entirely too mild to raise an objection on those grounds, but man, oh man, I understand the impulse to want to turn this book into kindling It s less like THIS and like THIS. This weighty poetic tome has all the weaknesses inherent to self publication unjustified overlong length, tedious repetition of images and ideas, wildly uneven quality from one poem to the next, irritating authorial tics, and a pervasive self important focus As I look at stuff,I think about stuff.O stuff O synonym for stuff O six page list of things that aresimilar yet different It s really impossible to document the amazing repetitions in Leaves of Grass short of simply handing you the book itself It is repetitive in syntax, in word choice, in tone, in content, in message, in perspective And the collection is inexcusably padded past any hope of delivering the forceful emotional impact that poems are so uniquely capable of.And man, what gives with the crappy words English s strongest selling point as a language is its vast, incredibly nuanced vocabulary It s not a particularly beautiful or intuitive dictionary, but the thesaurus is stellar we have an endless supply of synonyms at our disposal There s really no excuse for a native English speaking poet to resort to such dull, texture less language Take this brief ditty, After the Sea Ship After the sea ship, after the whistling winds,After the white gray sails taut to their spars and ropes,Below, a myriad myriad waves hastening, lifting up their necks,Tending in ceaseless flow toward the track of the ship,Waves of the ocean bubbling and gurgling, blithely prying,Waves, undulating waves, liquid, uneven, emulous waves,Toward that whirling current, laughing and buoyant, with curves,Where the great vessel sailing and tacking displaced the surface,Larger and smaller waves in the spread of the ocean yearnfully flowing,The wake of the sea ship after she passes, flashing and frolicsome under the sun,A motley procession with many a fleck of foam and many fragments,Following the stately and rapid ship, in the wake following.Guys, did you know that winds whistle Or that ship sails are white gray Or that the ocean has both larger and smaller waves Are you kidding me And yes, that s the whole poem, by the way, I didn t pull him off the stage with a cane right before he got to the good part Am I being too unfair Let s compare with another short, nautically themed poem from a contemporary from the same transcendental school Here is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow s sonnet The Sound of the Sea.The sea awoke at midnight from its sleep, And round the pebbly beaches far and wide I heard the first wave of the rising tide Rush onward with uninterrupted sweep A voice out of the silence of the deep, A sound mysteriously multiplied As of a cataract from the mountain s side, Or roar of winds upon a wooded steep.So comes to us at times, from the unknown And inaccessible solitudes of being, The rushing of the sea tides of the soul And inspirations, that we deem our own, Are some divine foreshadowing and foreseeing Of things beyond our reason or control.Even given the additional constraints of rhyming meter, Wadsworth whom I m honestly not that excited about in general manages to deliver a concise, impactful message with an interesting scope and vocabulary Also, The Sound of the Sea was not padded with flabby rephrasings of the same idea in an overlong collection The point is, Whitman was mediocre, at best, even in his own time Less THISTHIS. I know I m being a bit vicious, but from six hundred pages of poetry, I gathered fewer insights than from a collection of half a dozen from a better poet I have already started reading a new poetry collection, and I m compelled to read and reread, discovering new depths, awestruck at the emotional viscera Reading Leaves of Grass was, in comparison, watching a slightly interesting shade of paint dry.The wide eyed transcendental awe that Whitman is famous for grates under the relentless single minded repetition Whitman s spirit may have been remarkable, but his language is uninspired, hobbled by a limited vocabulary and overburdened by his didactic approach to inspiration He tries too hard to educate and persuade, and sounds like a salesmen hustling flora and fauna door to door The man s never met a thing he wasn t ready to romanticize toiling farmers, shackled slaves, dying soldiers they are noble savages, one and all Less THISTHIS. His relentless optimism at the splendor of America politically, geographically, socially every part of it is super duper splendid, according to Walt displays a total unwillingness to look critically at the world he lives in, which is a tremendous failure for a poet Page after page documents the unending beauty of the territories he d never visited, but there are only a handful of passing acknowledgements that Americans were actively slaughtering one another over the right to own other living humans Whitman is not being naive here, but rather deliberately myopic.An extremely tedious classic that is really nothing than rambling sermons from an inept poet I can see someone being charmed by his incessant enthusiasm for life, but for a pragmatist like myself, I can t stomach the lack of emotional maturity The world has all kinds of grace and majesty and stars and perfection, but it also has human beings killing other human beings for no clear reason A robust poet can make sense of this dilemma Whitman is no robust poet, so he merely turns away from it. Here, In Its Original And Complete Form, Is The Edition Of The American Masterpiece That Inspired Emerson To Write His Famous Words To Whitman I Greet You At The Beginning Of A Great Career As Malcolm Cowley Says In His Introduction, The First Edition Of Leaves Of Grass Might Be Called The Buried Masterpiece Of American Writing, For It Exhibits Whitman At His Best, Whitman At His Freshest In Vision And Boldest In Language, Whitman Transformed By A New Experience Cowley Has Taken The First Edition From Its Narrow Circulation Among Scholars, Faithfully Edited It, Added His Own Introduction And Whitman S Original Introduction Which Never Appeared In Any Other Edition During Whitman S Life , And Returned It To The Common Readership For Whom The Great Poet Intended It One Of The Most Important Literary Events In Twentieth Century Poetry And Criticism Karl Shapiro Whitman sings the song of America like no other poet I know the outsized joy and pain, the affinity for common folk and the love of nature and the sheer overwhelming feeling of every sight and sound and industrious noise around him I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear, he wrote Because of this some are tempted to see Whitman as a poet of pure exuberance like a proto hippie or, worse, like a garrulous Hallmark card But Whitman doesn t shy away from pain at all he embraces it like he embraces everything else not in a way that cheapens or ignores it but in a way that feels it deeply too He did, after all, endure the civil war he served as a nurse in army hospitals we might shudder to think what those were like and wrote about the experience in his typically direct, personal way Speaking of the personal, for many years I always brought an old tattered copy of Whitman with me backpacking, and whenever I had to endure a particularly awful commute, I d listen to Whitman to calm down, to step outside myself and encounter something beautiful amid the soul crushing traffic Whitman has become like an old friend to me now, one I ll no doubt keep coming back to, no matter my station in life or what I m going through. I am the poet of the Body and I am the poet of the Soul,The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me,The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into new tongue.I am the poet of the woman the same as the man,And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man,And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of men.This is the first edition of Leaves of Grass published in 1855, which consists of 12 poems In his poems Whitman exalts nature and humans, regardless of sex, race, class and profession For him a prostitute is worth as much as a nobleman The body is as worthy as the soul The woman is honored as the man I have perceiv d that to be with those I like is enough,To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,To pass among them or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly round his or her neck for a moment, what is this then I do not ask any delight, I swim in it as in a sea. Alright, my rating here is very misleading I haven t read Leaves Of Grass I don t even intend to read Leaves Of Grass Not all the way through any way It seems sort of weird to just read a big fat collection of poetry all the way through The five star rating is for one poem, Song of the Open Road.I ve never really appreciated poetry I ve liked song lyrics and that s poetry, but it seemed like I needed a tune to go with it I ve liked scripture which can be pretty poetic, but it seemed I needed religious sentiment to go with it Over the last few years , I ve been trying to correct this character flaw, and I ve felt like I was improving, but I didn t feel like I was there yet.So, I finished Atlas Shrugged recently and it left me feeling afraid of commitment, so I took Leaves Of Grass to work with me, so I d have something to read on my lunch hour without feeling obligated to finish and that might help me grow in my appreciation of poetry I looked in the table of contents and saw Song of the Open Road and thought that it might appeal to me as a runner hiker guy and read it Appeal to me, it did I found myself reading it over and over again and having a very positive emotional reaction It was visceral and inexplicable, so I won t try to detail it for you, but I thought as I was reading it, This must be what appreciating poetry feels like I wanted to memorize it and quote applicable sections at apropos moments to friends and family and all that other lame stuff that people who appreciate poetry do.So it gets five stars for providing me with something of a break through I think I ll go read it again. It is becoming increasingly trendy to chalk up success to practice and hard work We have the famous 10,000 hours from Malcolm Gladwell s Outliers, and a similar theme from Joshua Foer s Moonwalking with Einstein, just to name two examples But it seems to me that some people were just born to do what they did, that no amount of practice could ever have produced something so fresh, original, new, and revolutionary Take Montaigne He invented a new genre the essay , pioneered a free and easy prose style, and popularized a down to earth skeptical attitude There was no precedent to his proclamation that he would write about only himself To be sure, he worked very hard on his essays going over them again and again, crossing out a line here, adding one there But it wasn t the practicing that made him special, it was that his essays were the expression of an entirely original type of person, who effortlessly broke every rule Walt Whitman is a similar case Though free verse had precedents in the Biblical psalms, no poet had emancipated himself so completely from prosody, rhythm, and rhyme Though deism was trendy with the Transcendentalists, Emerson s and Thoreau s perspectives were a far cry from Whitman s mysticism Not to mention that his celebration of the bodily pleasures and sexuality scandalized nearly everybody Could 10,000 hours of anything have produced that How do you practice to be original This is all besides the point, I suppose This poem is gorgeous It s so modern in its sensibilities, I almost want to say that it could have been written in the 50s or 60s but Whitman s reverence for nature, love, and life was so pure and raw, that no disillusioned Cold War drug fueled Beats or Hippies could have come close There is nothing trendy in his poetry he was a member of no movement He was not writing in verse to rebel against anything, but to celebrate everything he saw worth celebrating At his worst, Whitman is repetitive continually rehashing ideas and imagery, and producing some uninspiring lists But at his best, Whitman is revelatory When the force of his original perspective is married to the force of his original style, the product is as extraordinary as it is inimitable The words and ideas are woven around each other like a vine growing around a tree, producing a poem that lives and breathes so freshly harvested from his mind, that even now it seems to still have dirt and roots clinging to it I m happy to see that America has produced a poet capable of upholding the democratic principle without descending into just one of us plain folksiness And I m glad to see that America has produced an individualist that is not peevish and immature I m saying America produced, but I m not really sure what mysterious force results in people like Whitman and Montaigne But it sure as hell ain t 10,000 hours. Leaves of Grass is like reading every single instant message that I and a friend of mine ever wrote to one another over the course of the last ten years Likely way too long, too self serving and would have shocked the general public if they cared to read it when it was written But nestled in there are some real, true brilliant moments.This is after all Whitman s life work, laid bare and un edited for the most part What else are we to expect He is literally singing a song of himself, which he believes to be American and is American by all accounts He shouts it loud and strong and keeps repeating it until the reader gets it But in there in that persistance is a thing of real, American beauty a self made man in love with his country and the people in it Real unhumble patriotism To understand this in all it s ragged glory is to understand Whitman and his America. Don t pay attention to me, I m currently high on poetry. In Leaves of Grass Walt Whitman sings nature and his symbiosis with America, he sings the universe and his awareness of it all, but above all he sings the people and their quest for individuality and immortalityThe proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed itAnd here he includes himself with all his mysticism and spiritual illuminations In that, it is a celebration of humanity, his country and everything in it Some parts of his poems were so beautiful it spoke to me, however not all touched me For one I am not American, and for other, he wrote it in another time that is long gone But there are times when he comes through our contemporary than many other writers I read I loved him for his love of the common people, for his praise of the most unlucky human beings like slaves and prostitutes as for his sense of justiceThe attitude of the great poets is to cheer up slaves and horrify despots It s an ode to equality, and for that, we cannot praise him enough His words sometimes sounded like music in my ears It really sang to meYou shall stand by my side and look in the mirror with meSometimes playful, often insightful and timeless, Leaves of Grass is not to be missedIt is the medium that shall well express the inexpressible Let s let Whitman speak for himself Song of Myself I CELEBRATE myself, And what I assume you shall assume,For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.I loafe and invite my soul,I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass. Clear and sweet is my soul and clear and sweet is all that is not my soul. I resist anything better than my own diversity,And breathe the air and leave plenty after me,And am not stuck up, and am in my place. I am the poet of the body,And I am the poet of the soul The pleasures of heaven are with me, and the pains of hell are with me,The first I graft and increase upon myself the latter I translate into a new tongue.I am the poet of the woman the same as the man,And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man,And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of men. I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journeywork of the stars,And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren,And the tree toad is a chef d ouvre for the highest,And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven,And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery,And the cow crunching with depressed head surpasses any statue,And a mouse is a miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels,And I could come every afternoon of my life to look at the farmer s girls boiling her iron tea kettle and baking short cake. The disdain and calmness of martyrs,The mother condemned for a witch and burnt with dry wood, and her children gazing on The hounded slave that flags in the race and leans by the fence, blowing and covered with sweat,The twinges that sting like needles his legs and neck,The murderous buckshot and the bullets,All these I feel or am.Finally, the three last superb stanzas I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love.If you want me again look for me under your bootsoles.You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,And filter and fibre your blood.Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,Missing me one place search another,I stop somewhere waiting for you.A Song for Occupations Come closer to me,Push close my lovers and take the best I possess,Yield closer and closer and give me the best you possess. The wife and she is not one jot less than the husband,The daughter and she is just good as the son,The mother and she is every bit as much as the father. We thought our Union grand and our Constitution grand I do not say they are not grand and good for they are,I am this day just as much in love with them as you,But I am eternally in love with you and with all my fellows upon the earth. You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,And filter and fibre your blood.Failing to fetch me me at first keep encouraged,Missing me one place search another,I stop some where waiting for you.The Sleepers Be careful, darkness already, what was it touched me I thought my lover was gone else darkness and he are one,I hear the heart beat I follow I fade away.