Tuesday, June 06, 2006

LEAVES OF GRASS AND THE POET WALT WHITMAN




Photo by Sonia de Amorim Mascaro

The origin of my Blog’s name.
I have never explained the origin of my Blog's name. When I was looking for a name that I could use in my Blog, I was looking for something close to the idea of nature, trees, leaves, grass … I enjoy the gentle sound of leaves drifting to the ground and being swept across my garden by the wind. The sound of leaves carefully falling to the grass and
rustling in the wind is a soothing, delicious and peaceful sound to me. So this idea association lead me to a poem I read some times ago, the beautiful “Leaves of Grass”, by Walt Whitman. Hence just in that moment, the name of my Blog was born. I have been thinking to make a post with the poem "Leaves of Grass". Here they are.



Walt Whitman, "american poet, journalist and essayist, best known for “Leaves of Grass” (1855), was born in 31 May 1819, at West Hills, Huntington Township, New York, the second child of Walter Whitman, house builder, and Louisa Van Velsor, both descendants of early settlers on Long Island. Whitman spent his first few years on his family's farm in West Hills, Long Island, the second of eight children. When he was four, the family moved to Brooklyn where Whitman would receive all his formal education. By the age of twelve he had left school and begun an apprenticeship in the printing office of the Long Island Patriot, later moving to the Long Island Star. "



Whitman "was early on filled with a love of nature. He read classics in his youth and was inspired by writers such as Goethe, Hegel, Carlyle and Emerson. He left school early to become a printer's apprentice. He also in 1835 worked as a teacher and journeyman printer. After that he held a great variety of jobs while writing and editing for several periodicals, The Brooklyn Eagle from 1846 to 1848 and The Brooklyn Times from 1857 to 1858. In between he spent three months on a New Orleans paper, working for his father, and earning his living from undistinguished hack-work."



Whitman incorporated natural speech rhythms into poetry. He disregarded metric, but the overall effect has a melodic character. Whitman dies in 26 March 1892 at Mickle Street and was buried in Harleigh Cemetery, Camden, New Jersey.


Book II - Starting from Paumanok

11.
As I have walk'd in Alabama my morning walk,
I have seen where the she-bird the mocking-bird sat on her nest in
the briers hatching her brood.

I have seen the he-bird also,
I have paus'd to hear him near at hand inflating his throat and
joyfully singing.

And while I paus'd it came to me that what he really sang for was
not there only,
Nor for his mate nor himself only, nor all sent back by the echoes,
But subtle, clandestine, away beyond,
A charge transmitted and gift occult for those being born.


Book IV. Children of Adam - I Sing the Body Electric

4. I have perceiv'd that to be with those I like is enough,
To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly
round his or her neck for a moment, what is this then?
I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it as in a sea.

There is something in staying close to men and women and looking
on them, and in the contact and odor of them, that pleases the soul well,
All things please the soul, but these please the soul well.


Book VII - Song of the Open Road

1. Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.

The earth, that is sufficient,
I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,
I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go,
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,
I am fill'd with them, and I will fill them in return.)


Book XXXIV. Sands at Seventy - Continuities


Nothing is ever really lost, or can be lost,
No birth, identity, form--no object of the world.
Nor life, nor force, nor any visible thing;
Appearance must not foil, nor shifted sphere confuse thy brain.
Ample are time and space--ample the fields of Nature.
The body, sluggish, aged, cold--the embers left from earlier fires,
The light in the eye grown dim, shall duly flame again;
The sun now low in the west rises for mornings and for noons continual;
To frozen clods ever the spring's invisible law returns,
With grass and flowers and summer fruits and corn.


Click to see a Portrait of Whitman


Record: this is a 36-second wax cylinder recording of what is thought to be Whitman's voice reading four lines from the poem "America." (in MP3 format).


20 comments:

  1. Sonia, I studied Whitman in college and I like his work very much, especially "I sing the body electric". I will come back later to hear the audio.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you so much for a lesson on Whitman...I love the origin of your blog name...almost sounded like the recording was taking place on a steam train?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you so much for a lesson on Whitman...I love the origin of your blog name...almost sounded like the recording was taking place on a steam train?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you so much for a lesson on Whitman...I love the origin of your blog name...almost sounded like the recording was taking place on a steam train?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks once again Sonia for infusing a bit of culture into my life. Poetry is a lovely thing.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sonia,
    I got excited when I got to VII: Song of the Open Road, because I thought this fits in with how I'm visualising my retirement. But then I got to the second stanza:
    Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
    Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
    Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
    Strong and content I travel the open road.

    Now what did he have against libraries, those institutions that open up the world and better inform us about what open roads there are out there??

    Maybe he went to libraries where the librarians used to say "shhhh" too much. I dare say that libraries these days could do with a little more quiet!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I was reading about Walt Whitman the other day and some of his work and I saw "Leaves of Grass" I thought you must be a fan.

    Love the picture....the green is soothing!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks Sonia for this post about Walt Whitman and how you came about the title for your blog! I love to see the leaves of grass blowing in the wind too! So pretty!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Well I think you picked a wonderful name for your blog and thank you for teaching me about Mr. Whitman.

    Take care,
    Connie

    ReplyDelete
  10. Very interesting and informative - I have enjoyed visiting some of his homes here in NY -
    Thank you for this post

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Sonia...
    I tried to post a comment yeeterday but blogger wouldn't let me! Grrrr. I hope it lets me today. I knew your name came from Whitman..wel, at least I thought it did...And I love that you have some stanzas from his work...It is so extrordiary...! Thank you for this, dear Sonia.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks so much my friends KENJU, PJ, KERRI, VAL, DEANA, RACHEL, CONNIE AND ROB, ENDMENT AND NAOMI.
    I appreciate as always your nice words.

    VAL, I agree with you, what did Whitman have against libraries? I love so much libraries and bookstores. I missed so much to visit a good library. Here where I have been living there are not a good library and a good bookstores either. Too bad! The Internet have been my salvation!
    I am thinking about this and I don't understood why he wrote this: ..." Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms, ..." Maybe he saw the libraries as a place that feed and fill up the desire of to see new landscape, to have new experiences and to restrain "the travel the open road." So, anyway, I think it's a equivocate thought. Books and libraries improve and whet the desire to know and to see more and more things in the world.

    ReplyDelete
  13. You should check out Poetry Thursday and this other group of bloggers that I am involved with who do haiku. I can give you the links. Just email me.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I love the photo. I love this post! Thank you for reminding me to come back. By the way did you see my "bluejay" in a past post.Walt Whitman would have enjoyed my "enchanted forest" journey!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Yes, thank you for the Whitman reminder, Sonia. I haven't read his poetry recently and your post is jogging me to revisit him!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you so much YOLANDA,NATUREGIRL and MARY for your nice comment!

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is a great post ~ very informative...your blog is lovely and it's name suits it...Now I know more about how you named it...thank you :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thankyou for encouraging me to re-discover Whitman. I can't put leaves of Grass down now!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Sonia

    Cada dia que passa seu blog consegue ficar cada vez mais exuberante. É realmente um privilégio poder desfrutar e documentar nossa maravilhosa natureza e mostrá-la ao mundo!!!
    Parabéns again!
    Beijos,
    Lito.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Sonia, I don't know how I came upon your blog, but I'm glad I did! My Son-in-law is from Central America (ElSalvador). I have visited there four times. Some of your beautiful pictures reminds me of my trips there. My son-in-law has a sister named Sonia and she has a granddaughter named Sofia. I love reading of Brazil and the surrounding places. I will follow your blog daily and look forward to the pictures you take on Fridays. I wish I could speak Spanish. Some words I know... I know Lito in English is Ralph.

    ReplyDelete

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