Tuesday, July 13, 2010
The next page (page 14) of Whitman's poetry starts with the poet not declaiming but questioning. The poet addresses the reader, challenges the reader, prods the reader, puzzles the reader.
Your thousand acres are pretty good, the poet's reasoning seems to be, and the Earth is pretty good, too. You may have felt pride in your ruminations over other poems...but now you are here with me in this poem. With me and herein, you the reader will not get at the meaning of poem but you will actually get the source of them all!
I have mentioned before my admiration for Whitman's audacity. His claims for what his poem is, what his ends are--these are audacious if anything is. And his style is no less confident and muscular. Look at all of the anaphora (Have you, You shall, Always), the repetition, and the ellipses. Notice the range: we began the page with acres and Earth; we leave it with organs, particles, and inches.
A final note must be made to acknowledge the great openness that Whitman champions: "Clear and sweet is my soul....and clear and sweet is all that is not my soul." He accepts all and rejects nothing. He embraces it all; it's all his subject and it's all essential: "Lack one lacks both."