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message 1: by LaLaLa Laura (last edited Jun 20, 2014 05:50PM) (new)

LaLaLa Laura  (laurabhoffman) | 4443 comments Mod
"Walt Whitman's work is uniquely his own--unconventional, lacking rhyme or meter, employing chanted lists of names and objects--but also powerful, sensual, oratorical and inspiring."

Feel free to discuss and share your passion for any and all of Whitman's poetry!


message 2: by Julia (new)

Julia (juliastrimer)


message 3: by LaLaLa Laura (new)

LaLaLa Laura  (laurabhoffman) | 4443 comments Mod
Julia wrote: ""

and what remains is truth.


message 4: by LaLaLa Laura (new)

LaLaLa Laura  (laurabhoffman) | 4443 comments Mod
if anyone would like to make a separate thread for a specific poem of Whitman, feel free!


message 5: by Greg (last edited Jun 23, 2014 07:48PM) (new)

Greg I got a copy of Leaves of Grass [1855 edition], and I'm planning on reading that one. I've read fragments of various editions before, but I'm looking forward to reading those poems together in the form originally published :)


message 6: by Julia (last edited Jul 01, 2014 05:55AM) (new)

Julia (juliastrimer) I just found The Illustrated Leaves of Grass in our retirement community library--with an introduction by William Carlos Williams. It was published in 1971 and uses photographs to accompany Whitman's poems. Certainly not a complete version of Leaves of Grass, but an interesting one.




message 7: by Greg (new)

Greg Finishing up some other books this weekend, finally starting Leaves of Grass and Gulliver's Travels later this week. Looking forward to it!


message 8: by Greg (new)

Greg Overslept all services except the last one again - why is it so impossible for me to wake up on time for anything on the weekend? Anyway - started the death bed version of Leaves of Grass on the exercise bike this morning and ran across this one in the inscriptions section. I'm sure I've heard this poem before somewhere; so it must be famous and well-known already, but I'm sharing it anyway because I like the ecstatic feel of it, a straightforward celebration of all people wherever they are, whatever they are doing:

I HEAR AMERICA SINGING
by Walt Whitman

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day - at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.


message 9: by Julia (last edited Jul 13, 2014 01:08PM) (new)

Julia (juliastrimer) This is certainly one of his most famous poems, Greg--thanks for sharing. I love the robust, down-to-earth people he is celebrating--and I wonder how many people today would regard their job as their "song"?

Bartleby has a huge list of Whitman's Leaves of Grass poems online: http://www.bartleby.com/142/index1.html

Number 1 shows Whitman's intense exultation about life!

1. One’s-Self I Sing

ONE’S-SELF I sing—a simple, separate Person;
Yet utter the word Democratic, the word En-masse.

Of Physiology from top to toe I sing;
Not physiognomy alone, nor brain alone, is worthy for the muse—I say the Form complete is worthier far;
The Female equally with the male I sing.

Of Life immense in passion, pulse, and power,
Cheerful—for freest action form’d, under the laws divine,
The Modern Man I sing.


message 10: by Greg (new)

Greg I love your word "exultation," very apt! I remember reading the poem you shared above as well (I think it was also in the Inscriptions section I was reading this morning). I like that his poetry is democratic in the true sense of the word. It encompasses everyone in its vision!


message 11: by Julia (last edited Jul 14, 2014 02:29AM) (new)

Julia (juliastrimer) That is so true, Greg! And Whitman was totally liberated in his outlook on the human body, both male and female. I enjoyed teaching "I Sing the Body Electric" to the students; it's quite long, so I ended up using just the 1st and 9th sections. He literally praises our bodies from head to toe in section 9, and even when the students reacted a bit to "man-balls" and "man-root", they quickly came to see that he is saying that ALL parts of our body are Holy (are the Soul).

I would use the pictures sent out on Voyager to discuss the debate as to whether to clothe the humans or not. Thankfully, science prevailed, and Whitman would have been glad :-)



19. I Sing the Body Electric

1

I SING the Body electric;
The armies of those I love engirth me, and I engirth them;
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the Soul.

Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves;
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do as much as the Soul?
And if the body were not the Soul, what is the Soul?


9

O my Body! I dare not desert the likes of you in other men and women, nor the likes of the parts of you;
I believe the likes of you are to stand or fall with the likes of the Soul, (and that they are the Soul;)
I believe the likes of you shall stand or fall with my poems—and that they are poems,
Man’s, woman’s, child’s, youth’s, wife’s, husband’s, mother’s, father’s, young man’s, young woman’s poems;
Head, neck, hair, ears, drop and tympan of the ears,
Eyes, eye-fringes, iris of the eye, eye-brows, and the waking or sleeping of the lids,
Mouth, tongue, lips, teeth, roof of the mouth, jaws, and the jaw-hinges,
Nose, nostrils of the nose, and the partition,
Cheeks, temples, forehead, chin, throat, back of the neck, neck-slue,
Strong shoulders, manly beard, scapula, hind-shoulders, and the ample side-round of the chest.

Upper-arm, arm-pit, elbow-socket, lower-arm, arm-sinews, arm-bones,
Wrist and wrist-joints, hand, palm, knuckles, thumb, fore-finger, finger-balls, finger-joints, finger-nails,
Broad breast-front, curling hair of the breast, breast-bone, breast-side,
Ribs, belly, back-bone, joints of the back-bone,
Hips, hip-sockets, hip-strength, inward and outward round, man-balls, man-root,
Strong set of thighs, well carrying the trunk above,
Leg-fibres, knee, knee-pan, upper-leg, under leg,
Ankles, instep, foot-ball, toes, toe-joints, the heel;
All attitudes, all the shapeliness, all the belongings of my or your body, or of any one’s body, male or female,
The lung-sponges, the stomach-sac, the bowels sweet and clean,
The brain in its folds inside the skull-frame,
Sympathies, heart-valves, palate-valves, sexuality, maternity,
Womanhood, and all that is a woman—and the man that comes from woman,
The womb, the teats, nipples, breast-milk, tears, laughter, weeping, love-looks, love-perturbations and risings,
The voice, articulation, language, whispering, shouting aloud,
Food, drink, pulse, digestion, sweat, sleep, walking, swimming,
Poise on the hips, leaping, reclining, embracing, arm-curving and tightening,
The continual changes of the flex of the mouth, and around the eyes,
The skin, the sun-burnt shade, freckles, hair,
The curious sympathy one feels, when feeling with the hand the naked meat of the body,
The circling rivers, the breath, and breathing it in and out,
The beauty of the waist, and thence of the hips, and thence downward toward the knees,
The thin red jellies within you, or within me—the bones, and the marrow in the bones,
The exquisite realization of health;
O I say, these are not the parts and poems of the Body only, but of the Soul,
O I say now these are the Soul!


message 12: by Greg (last edited Jul 13, 2014 09:43PM) (new)

Greg Julia wrote: "That is so true, Greg! And Whitman was totally liberated in his outlook on the human body, both male and female. I enjoyed teaching "I Sing the Body Electric" to the students; it's quite long, so I..."

I particularly like the 1st section of "I Sing The Body Electric." The armies of love line is wonderful, and I love his use of the word "discorrupt." I love both the sense and sound of it! In fact, the whole first section is wonderful!

There's a song by an oddly named band Death Cab For Cutie with the song title "Soul Meets Body." That song has a line I've always liked: "But I know our filthy hands can wash one another's / and not one speck will remain." It's definitely intended metaphorically and is similar in meaning, I think, to Whitman's usage of "discorrupt." I also think it's absolutely true! People can heal each other - the body, yes, but also the spirit, the body charged full of spirit! It's even possible the band might have been thinking of Whitman when they wrote it - they seem the sort to be reading poetry.

I guess that wouldn't be unfitting, given another of Whitman's poems from the "Inscriptions" section that begins:

POETS TO COME
by Walt Whitman
Poets to come! orators, singers, musicians to come!
Not to-day is to justify me and answer what I am for,
But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental, greater than before known,
Arouse! for you must justify me.
....


message 13: by Miriam (new)

Miriam | 36 comments I love Walt Whitman. I read his "Leaves of Grass" last term in American literature Modern and loved and was completely captivated by his work. I love his use of sexuality and how he makes it utterly pure and absent of all shame. Also, I enjoyed his use of free verse and his arrangement of words on the page! He has become one of my all time favorite poets!


message 14: by Greg (last edited Jul 18, 2014 09:33AM) (new)

Greg Miriam wrote: "I love Walt Whitman. I read his "Leaves of Grass" last term in American literature Modern and loved and was completely captivated by his work. I love his use of sexuality and how he makes it utterl..."

I'm enjoying it too! I'm getting toward the end of the InscrIptions section of the death bed edition. Right now I'm almost done with the very long poem "Song of Myself." I really like the ecstatic feel of sections #2 & 3 of that poem.

SONG OF MYSELF (excerpt)
by Walt Whitman

#2

Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are crowded with perfumes,
....

The atmosphere itself is not a perfume, it has no taste of the distillation, it is odorless,
It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it,
I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked,
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.
The smoke of my own breath,
Echoes, ripples, buzz'd whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and vine,
My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing of blood and air through my lungs,
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and dark-color'd sea rocks, and of hay in the barn,
The sound of the belch'd words of my voice loos'd to the eddies of the wind,
A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms,
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag,
The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hill-sides,
The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun.

Have you reckon'd a thousand acres much? have you reckon'd the earth much?
Have you prictis'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 the sun, (there are millions of suns left,)....


message 15: by Julia (new)

Julia (juliastrimer) Ah, those lines make my heart sing!

"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 the sun, (there are millions of suns left,)...."

His view of the world is so breathtaking--it's as if he and Carl Sagan were soul mates in awe of the Cosmos!




message 16: by Greg (new)

Greg Julia wrote: "Ah, those lines make my heart sing!

"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 the sun, (there are millions of suns..."


Love the picture quote you included Julia! Re: Carl Sagan, it is a wonderful thing to hear scientists in a state of wonder at the world! I remember reading an interview with an astronaut talking about viewing the Earth from space, the awe and the mystery of it. I wish I could remember which astronaut it was - such a beautiful interview.


message 17: by Julia (last edited Jul 18, 2014 06:38PM) (new)

Julia (juliastrimer) One of my favorite books is The Home Planet by Kevin W. Kelley, with a foreward by Jacques Cousteau. It's an incredible collection of photographs and quotations from astronauts. You can buy used copies from Amazon:

From Publishers Weekly

"This is a collection of 150 photographs of Earth taken from space, accompanied by quotes from members of the Association of Space Explorers, a multi-national group of astronauts and cosmonauts. The pictures are spectacular: an "Earthrise," as seen from the moon; the mountain ranges, canyons, coastlines, cloud formations, tropical storms, volcanos, oceans, deserts and deltas of the Earth photographed from thousands of miles above our planet's surface. So precise is the view that we see a plankton bloom, in an amazing inversion of scale, off the coast of New Zealand. The space explorers' comments on their experiences, their common realization of the camaraderie of all of Earth's citizens and of the fact that the Earth is fragile and too precious to be wasted range in eloquence, but are uniformly affecting and well-intentioned: "The first day or so we all pointed to our countries. The third or fourth day we were pointing to our continents. By the fifth day we were aware of only one Earth," says a Saudi Arabian. "We went to the moon as technicians; we returned as humanitarians," declares an American."



I'm sure Whitman would have understood exactly how they felt; he couldn't go into space literally, but his viewpoint is certainly cosmic.


message 18: by Greg (new)

Greg Julia wrote: "One of my favorite books is The Home Planet by Kevin W. Kelley, with a foreward by Jacques Cousteau. It's an incredible collection of photographs and..."

Thanks Julia!


message 19: by Holly (new)

Holly (whatwouldhollydo) I just finished reading "Walt Whitman: Selected Poems" edited by Harold Bloom. I have a difficult time reading poetry as I think you have to have an in depth knowledge of the poet's life, times, and body of work to fully grasp the meaning and symbolism in their work. With that said, I really enjoyed this selection. I found Whitman's language to be easy to follow and the topics of many of his poems relevant to modern society as much as they were relevant over a century ago. My favorite quote came from the poem "Good-Bye My Fancy!" It reads: Let him who is without my poems be assassinated! Love that!


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