How do you review a poem? You can go for the academic angle: the composition, historical context, stylistic importance, Or you can write about your suHow do you review a poem? You can go for the academic angle: the composition, historical context, stylistic importance, Or you can write about your subjective reaction, and a bunch of bullshit theory as to what Whitman was actually on about, which is exactly what I'm going to do because I never bothered attending that literary criticism lecture.
There are a few things about Whitman: 1) He was gay 2) He was American 3) His parents were Quakers.
These are important because (in corresponding order): 1) Trivia of the day: Oscar Wilde visited him specifically and they shared a lovely dinner, with Whitman being in the bathtub presumably naked. This is probably not important, I just thought it's funny. Oh, and there's quite a bit of homosexual eroticism, nothing compared to what GQ publishes but notable none the less.
2) It becomes increasingly clear why Australians laugh at American patriotism (well, I can't speak for all, but that is certainly the case with the bunch of university anarchists I know). Leaves of Grass can be compared to La Liberté guidant le peuple, a painting by French Romantic artist Delacroix, more well known as Coldplay's surprisingly tasteful choice of cover art for Viva la Vida. If you never took art or listen to the radio: http://endtimepilgrim.org/liberty.jpg
3) Quakers are funny people. Before you get offended I was involved in Quakerism after a drop out with the Anglican church, so my understanding is probably obscured by teenage angst. The deal with Quakers is that its principles are broad you can almost fit atheism under it. Whitman was a Humanist, and it's interesting because the core of Quakerism is that God is inside you, and that we are all intrinsically spiritual.
If you add the three facts together, you're beginning to see a glimpse of the rigour and resplendence of this epic poem. It's about ideals, expressions, freedom, the right to write really obscure things but still justifiably quotable. It makes you feel alive, not the Indie, quiet type of epiphany by a jump up and down CAPS LOCK kind of way. Nobody can lecture like Whitman. I can see his ghost yelling at the TV because of a crap presidential speech, or a Modern Warfare game. What a pity he never met Hemingway, or Sylvester Stallone.
'There was never any more inception than there is now, Nor any more youth or age than there is now; And will never be any more perfection than there is now, Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.' - Leaves of Grass
Damien Hirst getting drunk (nothing new here) Billy Childish strangely not drunk OR stoned Nick Cave - more than one poem PJ Harvey Robb Some highlights:
Damien Hirst getting drunk (nothing new here) Billy Childish strangely not drunk OR stoned Nick Cave - more than one poem PJ Harvey Robbie Williams was apparently a poet (note the past tense) Roger Robinson - speaker corner artist who rambles a lot, in caps lock