Nicole for 13th of October2009
Last night I was in a bar with some friends, my eyes immediately where drawn to this old grayed man sitting at the bar by himself having a pint. I kept looking at him trying to figure out where I knew his face from, then it hit me, he looks like Walt Whitman. He was tall slender with a grayed beard and full long gray hair. I then went over and told him that I taught he looked like him, he laughed and then said in his soft husky voice maybe it’s a writers thing, we all look mad! I asked my friend the bar tender if he was a writer and she said yes.
Last week we discussed Charles Dickens, I was not very amused by his description of New York when he visited. He depicted New-Yorkers as pigs, he explained how they are self- contained, it felt as though he looked down on the society in time in which Whitman lived. As a New Yorker, while reading this I felt very threatened. Never mind what time period it is in time NYC has always been a Metropolis, it has always stood its grounds, small or large it has always been a strong city. And since the 1800’s when Dickens visited, sure the city was in slums, it was filthy, and disgusting, but that’s how it was, new immigrants, and a newly developing down town.
New Yorkers are care free roaming people since the beginning, we adapt to situations around us and will walk the streets in the brightest colours, and sing and talk to ours selves not worrying about the others around, but we also come together in time of need. This is what Charles Dickens did not get. It was the slums! what did he expect! it was not England, but I assure you parts of England was pretty much the same. Every country has there slums. Here he saw and found evidence of England’s superiority of class.
Unlike Whitman who embraced NYC, he loved every thing about it. This is where he grew up, this was home, and this is what he grew to. He did not see any thing wrong with the ladies in bright colours nor depict his fellow man as a pig. He saw New York as Home, a place where he connected with man, woman, child and his city.
This is the place [Five Points], these narrow ways, diverging to the right and left, and reeking everywhere with dirt and filth. Such lives as are led here, bear the same fruits here as elsewhere. The coarse and bloated faces at the doors have counterparts at home, and all the wide world over. Debauchery has made the very houses prematurely old. See how the rotten beams are tumbling down, and how the patched and broken windows seem to scowl dimly, like eyes that have been hurt in drunken frays. Many of those pigs live here. Do they ever wonder why their masters walk upright in lieu of going on all-fours? and why they talk instead of grunting?
Charles Dickens, American Notes for General Circulation (London: Chapman and Hall, 1842), 101, at Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library.
Courtesy of the Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library.