Saturday, September 28, 2019

A Leaf or a Star

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars. - Walt Whitman
Even the smallest to the largest

In the 1850s, an American poet pulled away from standard poetry format and moved into his own poetry. It was a bold move, but then Walt Whitman was bold in so many ways.

His “free verse” was exactly that: free.  Whitman was strong in his beliefs that all people should read and understand the meanings that are embedded in the words.  The importance of the individual, whether it be a person or a blade of grass or a distant star, was central to his vision.

Walt Whitman fell under the extreme condemnation of his bi-sexuality.  Although Leaves of Grass was labeled to be almost pornographic and obscene, but that did not restrict its success. In a November 1885 review, it was suggested that Whitman was “guilty of the horrible sin not to be mentioned among Christians”.

This part of the popular opinions, Whitman had intense relationships with several women, and claimed he had six children. Whatever his sexuality, it cannot be criticized in current mores and rightly so. One cannot be defined by one element of life but taken as a whole.

Whitman’s most memorable poem will always be O Captain! My Captain, written after Lincoln’s assassination. He once said, after constant repetition,

"Damn My Captain...I'm almost sorry I ever wrote that poem."


So, hoist a glass to an individual who believed that people/leaves of grass/stars are unique, no matter how small or large or whatever.

From YouTube read by Tom O'Bedlam

45 comments:

  1. Yes, I bought a book of his poems when in Georgia, and I treasure it.

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  2. When viewing any work of art it should be judged on its own merit. The artist is no less an artist if we do not agree with his/her lifestyle.

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    1. Looking through history, so many writers, poets, actors,musicians and more have been homosexual. The extreme creativity? Unbelievable talent and intelligence? Who knows? But all have enriched lives throughout time.

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  3. Enjoyed this post and learning more about Whitman.

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    1. Whitman is a poet who seems to have faded into the background.

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    2. Maybe a bit, but I think he's carved his place in poetic history and will remain.

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  4. Walt Whitman is a hero and inspiration to many. This year is the centenary of his birth, I believe.

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    1. Really? Whitman experienced so much in his life, especially as a nurse in the Civil War.

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  5. A big yes to anyone who believes, and honours, individuality.

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    1. We are who we are, and we are part of the large picture.

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  6. I love Whitman. There is something amazing to his work. Song of Myself is one of my favorite things ever written.

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    1. My grandmother gave me Leaves of Grass when she died. I enjoy it still.

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  7. I was going to say, if Walt Whitman didn't say that, I don't know who else would.

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  8. I've never read any of Walt Whitman's works. I'm a fiction paperback kind of girl.

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  9. Hi Susan - thanks for this ... I enjoyed it - and hadn't realised that Walt Whitman had written 'O Captain! My Captain!' ... so I was pleased to listen to it. Thank you - Hilary

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  10. Yes, he was a great poet, and an advocate for freeing the slaves, although, possibly because of the times, he still believed they were nothing more than ignorant servants.

    His Leaves of Grass was ground breaking, at least in my opinion. And this is the 21st century, so who cares what his sexual orientation was.

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    1. He was odd in that way. For freeing the slaves, he saw them as somehow now quite equal to the white man. That confused me as well. Leaves of Grass was groundbreaking in many ways.

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  11. Sure had a way with words indeed, no matter what he did elsewhere.

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  12. It was Mrs. Grill's fault. I knew Poems were for sissy's, but somehow she convinced me different.
    I had to look-up Whitman but could only remember 'My Captain.....'. Melissa Grill loved all poetry, but as a mountain teacher she leaned to the 'old fashioned' style of RHYMES (Ed Guest). She insisted that if I were to be 'well rounded' I would read poetry. I like Whitman, But I did grow to love his chocolate candy! LOL
    Very good entry.
    Sherry & jack

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    1. I always wondered why that box of chocolates carried his name.

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  13. Replies
    1. Poetry are words that stay after the poet passes.

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  14. Everything The Almighty makes is unique. Only we people use machines to make every item the same, in nature there is no repetition.

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  15. His insistence that each human is a Cosmos engaged me nearly 60 years ago. It is an idea that will serve sanity and compassion forever.

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  16. People are unique and sacred vessels of peace spreading the good word across earth. A lot of mystery awaits to be solved in our universe but we should always pay homage and respect one another.

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  17. His work is still a pleasure to read.

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    1. Especially considering this was written 130 yrs. ago, good poetry lasts.

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    1. I hope you find his writing to be thoughtful.

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  19. I've always loved Whitman's work -- possibly my favorite American poet. Thanks for sharing about him and for the link.

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  20. i think i have read few of his works in our school books or may be book book borrowed from library dear Susan

    thank you for sharing this beautiful poem

    i agree that we should not and we cannot judge anyone by his single action

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  21. This took my memories back to my school days when I had to learn this in our English class. It was long after that I read more about Walt Whitman.
    One doesn't have the right to judge another's individuality, and thereby their creativity. We are all different and unique. And we need to respect others for what they are.

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