Wednesday, April 27, 2011

We Found Our Own

Time again to read good, old Walt Whitman. We are now on Page 31 from Walt Whitman's 1855 edition--the first--of Leaves of Grass.

Whitman sings life and energy:
[Page 30] Dazzling and tremendous how quick the sunrise would kill me,
If I could not now and always send sunrise out of me.
[Page 31] We also ascend dazzling and tremendous as the sun,
We found our own my soul in the calm and cool of the daybreak.
Whitman's poet must absorb the sun's energy, it's information, and radiate it back into the world as poetry. The poet must do this. It's is a prerequisite of life and utterly necessary.
My voice goes after what my eyes cannot reach,
With the twirl of my tongue I encompass worlds and volumes of worlds.
Speech is the twin of my vision . . . . it is unequal to measure itself.

It provokes me forever,
It says sarcastically, Walt, you understand enough . . . . why don't you let it out then?
The "It" here seems to be speech, the figure of song and poetry. It seems to be voice, emblem of the individual. And the individual is both unique and part of the larger fabric of the world. Yet speech and voice are somehow different from the individual. They converse with the individual, provoking him or her to make more speech and to articulate more. Whitman's poet then makes an abrupt turn and praises silence before the world.
Come now I will not be tantalized . . . . you conceive too much of articulation.

Do you not know how the buds beneath are folded?
Waiting in gloom protected by frost,
The dirt receding before my prophetical screams,
I underlying causes to balance them at last,
My knowledge my live parts . . . . it keeping tally with the meaning of things,
Happiness . . . . which whoever hears me let him or her set out in search of this day.

My final merit I refuse you . . . . I refuse putting from me the best I am.

Encompass worlds but never try to encompass me,
I crowd your noisiest talk by looking toward you.

Writing and talk do not prove me,
I carry the plenum of proof and every thing else in my face,
With the hush of my lips I confound the topmost skeptic.
Whitman's poet here admonishes speech and voice. Can you imagine? A poet denying his essential vehicle! For the poet, it is best not to invest too much or all the time in articulation. It can be better simply to be and to listen.
I think I will do nothing for a long time but listen,
And accrue what I hear into myself . . . . and let sounds contribute toward me.

I hear the bravuras of birds . . . . the bustle of growing wheat . . . . gossip of flames . . . . clack of sticks cooking my meals.

I hear the sound of the human voice . . . . a sound I love,
I hear all sounds as they are tuned to their uses . . . . sounds of the city and sounds out of the city . . . . sounds of the day and night;
Talkative young ones to those that like them . . . . the recitative of fish-pedlars and fruit-pedlars . . . . the loud laugh of workpeople at their meals,
The angry base of disjointed friendship . . . . the faint tones of the sick,
The judge with hands tight to the desk, his shaky lips pronouncing a death-sentence,
The heave'e'yo of stevedores unlading ships by the wharves . . . . the refrain of the anchor-lifters;
The poet hears a mosaic of sounds. We began this page with the poet's need to articulate. The poet, both person and soul, ascends like the sun. "We found our own," we join with the world and make our own world. We absorb and we radiate.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to comment if you have something substantial and substantiated to say.