Monday, March 3, 2014

Song of the Soil: Walt Whitman



Walt Whitman has been called “The Father of Free-Verse”, as a writer in the mid-1850s who was pulling away from traditional rhyming poetry.  So very talented, Whitman was a teacher, a government employee, journalist, and a volunteer nurse during the Civil War.

Walt Whitman was connected to the earth, the soil, and he wrote passionately about its beauty, as well as its cycles of life and death.  Toward the end of his life, he moved to Laurel Springs, New Jersey, which he called “the prettiest lake in: America or Europe.”

I took these photos in Bremgarten bie Bern, Switzerland, when I visited my new grandson (and his parents) in 2012.  The photos reminded me of Walt Whitman’s poetry.


One day....


...and then the next.

A song of the grass and fields!

A song of the soil, and the good green grass!

A song no more of the city streets,

A song of the soil of the fields.



A song with the smell of sun-dried hay, where the nimble pitchers
        
             handle the pitch-fork,

A song tasting of new wheat, and of fresh-husk’d maize.

Please notice the next field over is green and tasseled with stalks of corn.




27 comments:

  1. Such a sight could sure make words give flight

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    1. So few people today can appreciate the sight of new wheat!

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  2. Oh to walk through the waving fields once more.

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    1. I remember when my sister Mary and I flew kites on the cut-wheat fields. Wore shoes, too.

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  3. Walt Whitman might be my most favorite writer of all-time...oh to have been able to pick his brain.

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  4. Thank you for sharing his poetry and these inspiring pictures.

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  5. Both the images and the words sing to me this morning. Thank you.

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    1. Are there fields like this in Canberra?

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    2. We aren't much of a crop growing area but when I lived in country NSW it was a common sight - fields of lucerne, and sometimes wheat. And more rarely an explosion of colour in a field of sun flowers.

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    3. What a sight the field of sunflowers must have been!

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  6. A song to delight the heart; a song of fields under a summer sun.

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    Replies
    1. Wasn't it a joy to the heart, indeed.

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  7. He was able to see so much from so little

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    Replies
    1. So much insight and belief in the common man

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  8. Hi Susan,

    With this, you have transported me to that field. This might surprise you, but I have seen similar fields in Wales.

    Take care, Susan.

    Gary

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    1. No, I am not at all surprised! I have visited Wales, seen its diversity. Hope the horrible rain will not hurt the plantings.

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  9. Your photos are lovely! If I breathe in deeply enough I can actually smell the earth and the grass. What a wonderful feeling!

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    1. The fields were impressive. For this farm girl who has not seen wheat fields for decades, this was a true experience.

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  10. Walt Whitman is one of my favorite poets. You put some lovely pictures to his verse, Susan.

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    1. He is one of mine as well. Robert Frost is with him.

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  11. Very nice! Song of peace as well, I'm sure.

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    1. As one who had seen the horror of the Civil War, he surely appreciated the value of peace.

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  12. oh i love his work--and such great scenes :)

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  13. Dear Susan, this post just delighted me because it so fits with what I'm into right now. My sister-in-law recently shared with me the info she'd read on Alzeheimer's. She said that scientists say that memorizing something everyday will help keep our minds sharp. So I began last week and memorized a four-stanza poem by Wendall Berry. This week I'm working on "Ulysses" by Alfred Lord Tennyson. The first poem was in free verse; the second is written in iambic pentameter and thus is easier to memorize. As a grade-high-college student I memorized a lot of poetry and that was easy now. I can see that my mind has been affected by age because memorizing last week and this one is harder. But oh, the joy of a good poem and the being able to recite it to myself at night as I lay in the dark awaiting the arrival of sleep. And Whitman is on my list. I'd like to memorize his poem "When Lilacs Last in the Doorway Bloomed." Peace.

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Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!