Carolyn's Last Read Was ...
Walt Whitman - Selected Poems
Walt Whitman's poems travel - both in content and form.
They take the reader on long,long journeys - down the page and across the United States, from California to New York, and across the globe.
But his travels aren't simply literal. He journeys into the soul as extensively as he roams in literal terms.
In Out of The Cradle Gently Rocking, the child 'bareheaded,barefoot', stripped of adult conceits and inhibitions, explores love, loss and mortality.
While in Passage To India he urges the soul to travel to Asia to 'Eclairise the myths Asiatic, the primitive fables .../The far darting beams of the spirit, the unloosed dreams ...'/
Whitman journeyed to connect with fellow humans and the universe in its entirerety, from the tiniest microbes to the cranes, ships and tall buildings of New York.
The long series of poems Song of Myself opens: 'I celebrate myself, and sing myself,/And what I assume you shall assume,/For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.'
Connecting with words was part of the experience.
Although he lived most of his life in and around New York, Whitman writes exquisitely about nature, associating it with love and loss. He gave the name Leaves of Grass to his collected poems.
In Out of the Cradle he relates the story of a pair of birds nesting: 'When the lilac-scent was in the air and Fifth-month grass was growing.'
One day, the female bird fails to return. The mate continues to call for her:'Yes, when the stars glisten'd/All night long on the prong of a moss-scallop'd stake ...'
And the poems are sensuous, even when describing young soldiers slaughtered on the battlefields of the Civil War.
A Sight In Camp In the Daybreak Gray and Dim ends: ' ... a face not child,nor old, very calm, as of beautiful yellow-white ivory;/Young man I think I know you - I think this face is the face of Christ himself,/Dead and divine and brother of all, and here again he lies.'
Whitman has been dubbed the father of American free verse.
As one of America's most influential poets he sums up the nation's experience of exploration - a pioneer spirit whose imagination was the real adventurer.