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In the Company of Walt

While I appreciated visiting Whitman’s home and grave, I have to admit that when I left the conference, I was pretty concerned that I hadn’t gotten as much out of it as I could have. In general, I felt closed off from the experience, like I just wasn’t in the moment but everyone else was. […] […]

Natalie for Oct. 27

Erkkila states that in “Lilacs,” “the poet . . . places a sprig of lilac on the coffin as a sign presumably of perpetual renewal and the unity of life” (231). I saw the lilac a bit less romantically, as indicative of the magnitude of grief– both the reminders of a death that never completely […] […]

Whitman, Default Answer

Setting: Jeopardy!, October 14, 2009 Final Jeopardy Category: Poets Final Jeopardy Answer: In a 1921 letter this American-born poet had “a long poem in mind… which I am wishful to finish,” and he did at 433 lines. Two of the contestants wrote: Who is Walt Whitman? Why we might cut those guys some slack: If […] […]

Assimilation Charges

Because tonight’s discussion ended with attention to Whitman’s emphasis on assimilation in 1867 Leaves (especially in “Pensive on Her Dead Gazing”), it occurred to me that he was probably aware–again, in a way that makes him seem like an alien dropped from a planet of highly advanced thinking into plain ol’ 19th-century America–of how much […] […]

Song of Natalie (regretfully tardy)

All truths wait in all things, They neither hasten their own delivery nor resist it, They do not need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon, The insignificant is as big to me as any, (What is less or more than a touch?) Logic and sermons never convince, The damp of the night drives deeper into […] […]

Notes, Discussion 9/15

Shift From Country to City, Collapse of Relied-upon Systems: Overall Alienations living w/ extended family to living by himself surveillance of small town to looking out for oneself vertical authority (hierarchy, chain-of-command) to horizontal institutions (peers, friends, equals)– absence of people telling you what to do agricultural system (attn to rhythms of nature, systems of […] […]

What I Feel Ignorant About

What was Whitman’s conception of literature at the time he was writing? Who were his influences? What did he consider standard literature? amazing literature? How radical did he think he was being, and how important was that to him? I ask these questions because I have a tendency to read too minutely into the form […] […]

Whitman = superior/unique/oppressive/intrusive/containing multitudes

I sit here fighting the crash that must follow my caffeine high because I refuse go to bed (to gear up for my 6 a.m. shift tomorrow morning) without riffing a little more on why Whitman is a superior but equal-opportunity-believing poet. As soon as I suggested that Whitman was more democratic than T. S. […] […]