September 29, 2009

Fugitive or Runaway

Filed under: Uncategorized — nicoleg @ 12:04 am

Nicole for  the 29th of September, 2009

In our last class session we discussed many different topics pertaining to Whitman’s choice of words and the technicality of his writing, however one topic caught my interest; the run away slave passage, when it was described by Professor Gold  it caught my interest. I have read that passage many times since the class started and it never stood out in such a way.

The question was how it would be different if Walt Whitman used the word “fugitive “instead of runaway slave.

Well for one thing run away sounds much better. When we think of a fugitive what comes to mind! Bank robber, criminal on the loose, someone who broke out of jail and is on the run. Well this is the reason this word responded so well to me.

What is a fugitive?  What is a runaway?

The definition of fugitive is:

(a.) Fleeing from pursuit, danger, restraint, etc., escaping, from service, duty etc.; as, a fugitive solder; a fugitive slave; a fugitive debtor.

(n.) One who flees from pursuit, danger, restraint, service, duty, etc.; a deserter; as, a fugitive from justice.

(a.) Not fixed; not durable; liable to disappear or fall away; volatile; uncertain; evanescent; liable to fade; — applied to material and immaterial things; as, fugitive colors; a fugitive idea.

(n.) Something hard to be caught or detained.

The definition of runaway is:

(n.) The act of running away, esp. of a horse or teams; as, there was a runaway yesterday.

(n.) One who, or that which, flees from danger, duty, restraint, etc.; a fugitive.

(a.) Accomplished by running away or elopement, or during flight; as, a runaway marriage.

(a.) Won by a long lead; as, a runaway victory.

(a.) Running away; fleeing from danger, duty, restraint, etc.; as, runaway soldiers; a runaway horse.

(a.) Very successful; accomplishing success quickly; as, a runaway bestseller.

Now the meanings are similar, almost or are the same. One of the definitions which is the same in both words except for the word justice

“One who flees from pursuit, danger, restraint, service, duty, etc.; a deserter; as, a fugitive from justice”

If Whitman used the word Fugitive I believe his theory or his belief in his writing would be different, Whitman was a believer in equality for all humans, his words expressed what he stood for.

The word” runaway slave” gives us that descriptive image in our minds of a slave literally running away from down south all the way to NYC. Walt gives us that image, that moment to process his actions with that slave in our taught and minds. If Whitman used the word “fugitive” well I bet most of us would imagine something differently, I know for a fact the first thing would be “criminal” to me. The truth is, the both words have the same meaning, but they both are viewed very differently from each other.

How can a man be a fugitive if he has done no wrong? Well he is running a way from danger of another man, and the restraint of another man whom actually owns him and him a man is described as something hard to be caught or detained. A Runaway Slave.

Section of Stanza 10

The runaway slave came to my house and stop outside,
I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the woodpile,
Through the swung half-door of the kitchen I saw him limpsy and weak,
And went where he sat on a log and led him in and assured him,
And brought water and fill’d a tub for his sweated body and bruis’d feet,
And gave him a room that enter’d from my own, and gave him some coarse
clean clothes,
And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes and his awkwardness,
And remember putting plasters on the galls of his neck and ankles;
He staid with me a week before he was recuperated and pass’d north,
I had him sit next me at table, my fire-lock lean’d in the corner.

September 21, 2009

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

Filed under: Uncategorized — nicoleg @ 11:22 am

Nicole for 22nd of September, 2009


When reading “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”, I taught about Brooklynites still using the ferry to cross the river today, well maybe not the ferry, but the yellow water taxis. Never mind we have the all mighty 150 year old Brooklyn Bridge which took 14 years to build and finished in 1883, we still relay on the boat to hoover us across the river.

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry was one of Whitman’s  pieces, which was written before the Civil War, however there still is that sense of depth that Walt expresses in  most of his work. He speaks about the Barriers between us; referring to the process of  the almighty land of the free which was going to be divide into rivals.

The poem as I mentioned has Walt’s depth and sensuality but, it again holds everyone to Whitman, he connects to everyone on the boat, never mind he stands on his  spot on the boats deck ,he’s in a trans crossing the East River.

Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky,
so I felt,

Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one
of a crowd,

Just as you are refreshed by the gladness of the river,
and the bright flow, I was refreshed,

In one excerpt of the poem he starts each sentence with ;

Flow on

Frolic on


Cross from

Stand Up

Bully For You








These words really stood out to me, they give the papragraph a story and adds an energy to the surroundings.

The poem also has a feel as though Whitman is on a Journey of some sort, from Manhattan to Brooklyn not really a journey! but journey of his soul. He captures every essence of his surroundings, and again he speaks of gods as he is part of  that whole.

My river and sun-set, and my scallop-edged waves of

The sea-gulls oscillating their bodies, the hay-boat in
the twilight, and the belated lighter;
Curious what Gods can exceed these that clasp me
by the hand, and with voices I love call me
promptly and loudly by my nighest name as I
Curious what is more subtle than this which ties me
to the woman or man that looks in my face,

Which fuses me into you now, and pours my meaning
into you.

Brooklun Bridge in 1883, Lithograph  by Currier and Ives

Brooklyn Bridge in 1883, Lithograph by Currier and Ives

September 13, 2009

Nicole for Sept, 15th 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — nicoleg @ 8:47 pm

“In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barleycorn less, And the good or bad I say of myself I say of them.

And I know I am solid and sound, To me the converging objects for the universe perpetually flow, All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means.”

-Walt Whitman

The more I reread the poems the more I understand them, Reading them aloud is the key, well to me at-least.

I say to myself, how can Walt be so explicit in his period in time,  he’s  a rebel, he crosses boundaries between  different races, cultures and ethics.  He asks direct and provoking question and gives an answer to them in such a manner you have to gasp.

He is one with the world, a white man who feels the pain of others whom are told they are different. He is a man who knows he is different and he tells the world out loud, rather than hiding and being secretive like most other men back then.

Reading his work makes me blush at times, it sends you through different emotions, the different periods in his life I feel it, as though I can see.

He achieves this equality or oneness with the reader, I think that’s why when I read I see what he see’s.


A woman waits for me—she contains all, nothing is lacking,
Yet all were lacking, if sex were lacking, or if the moisture of the right man were lacking.
Sex contains all,
Bodies, Souls, meanings, proofs, purities, delicacies, results, promulgations,
Songs, commands, health, pride, the maternal mystery, the seminal milk;
All hopes, benefactions, bestowals,
All the passions, loves, beauties, delights of the earth,
All the governments, judges, gods, follow’d persons of the earth,
These are contain’d in sex, as parts of itself, and justifications of itself.
Without shame the man I like knows and avows the deliciousness of his sex,
Without shame the woman I like knows and avows hers.
Now I will dismiss myself from impassive women,
I will go stay with her who waits for me, and with those women that are warm-blooded and sufficient for me;
I see that they understand me, and do not deny me;
I see that they are worthy of me—I will be the robust husband of those women.
They are not one jot less than I am,
They are tann’d in the face by shining suns and blowing winds,
Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and strength,
They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle, shoot, run, strike, retreat, advance, resist, defend themselves,
They are ultimate in their own right—they are calm, clear, well-possess’d of themselves.

Image Gloss for September 15th

Filed under: Uncategorized — nicoleg @ 8:11 pm

To be in any form, what is that?
If nothing lay more developed the quahaug and its callous shell were enough.

Mine is no callous shell,
I have instant conductors all over me whether I pass or stop,
They seize every object and lead it harmlessly through me.

I merely stir, press, feel with my fingers, and am happy,
To touch my person to some one else’s is about as much as I can stand.

Is this then a touch? . . . . quivering me to a new identity,
Flames and ether making a rush for my veins,
Treacherous tip of me reaching and crowding to help them,
My flesh and blood playing out lightning, to strike what is hardly different from


The Quahag or Quahog the word comes from the Mohegan-Montauk Narragansett it simply means a clam.

I like this excerpt because I think persons can relate to it. Never mind Whitman is referring to I, it speaks to us as a  whole.

We as humans are always looking and finding new identities, from child hood to adulthood. It may not be drastic, but we do change. We evolve sexually mentally and physically.

The shell of this quahog is hard, it  has protection, the clam grows safely inside, no-one  seizes it, it already has it’s identity. It changes only in it’s callous shell. Never mind the exert goes in to a naughty scene it captures Whitman at his raw state…………….

On all sides prurient provokers stiffening my limbs,
Straining the udder of my heart for its withheld drip,
Behaving licentious toward me, taking no denial,
Depriving me of my best as for a purpose,
Unbuttoning my clothes and holding me by the bare waist,
Deluding my confusion with the calm of the sunlight and pasture fields,
Immodestly sliding the fellow-senses away,
They bribed to swap off with touch, and go and graze at the edges of me,
No consideration, no regard for my draining strength or my anger,
Fetching the rest of the herd around to enjoy them awhile,
Then all uniting to stand on a headland and worry me.

I just found those words jumping out to me.

September 3, 2009

Song of Nicole

Filed under: Uncategorized — nicoleg @ 1:06 pm

Nicole for Tuesday September, 8th 2009

In the beginning of this class I was truly overwhelmed by the course of this project, I had no prior knowledge of Walt Whitman rather than he was great American poet, and writer.

I began to read “Song of Myself “. I was astonished by the words and phrases Whitman used; he was not just a great American Poet but, a man whose work can relate to every reader in any time of history. “Song of My self” spoke to me as though it was written in the 21st century. He bluntly spoke about his sexuality, his looseness something that was regarded as being very private and discreet.   At times I felt a deep connection to his work, his words and his sense of being. “I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you”. However, Living in NYC I don’t feel that much of a connection every waking day, but you do have a sense of connection to your city and surroundings.

Whitman used his worlds carefully, his words are powerful, they grab you and pull you in, they transcend you into his eyes, you feel his pain, joy and his oneness to every man, woman, child, tree, bird, and earth. Each stanza gave a different part of his life, like a story a biography. Each was like an emotional roller coaster to me. He was everyone and everyone was him, he felt their pain… Godly in some parts he was, the father, the holy trinity.

I Exist as I am, and that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And If each and all be aware I sit content

I see the approach of your numberless gangs….I see you understand yourselves and me,
And know that they who have eyes are divine, and the blind and lame are equally divine,
And that my steps drag behind yours yet go before them,
And are aware how I am with you no More than I am with everybody.


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