Here I am in front of the Court House. I chose this place because Whitman always stood up for equality.
This is from Songs of Myself…Enjoy!
So far Whitman blogging is soon coming up to a wrap since the semester is almost over. I just finished a project that was on Whitman and the Natural World. The interesting thing about the whole situation is that Whitman is not considered a transcendalist, although he often wrote like one. Transcendalists believed that humans should revert back to their very nature because it will create a healthy society. In much of Whitman’s poetry, there is an insurgency against society because the way it treats others, such as human rights. Therefore, he wants to be only with nature.
GIVE me the splendid silent sun, with all his beams full-dazzling; ¬† Give me juicy autumnal fruit, ripe and red from the orchard; ¬† Give me a field where the unmow‚Äôd grass grows; ¬† Give me an arbor, give me the trellis‚Äôd grape; ¬† Give me fresh corn and wheat‚ÄĒgive me serene-moving animals, teaching content; ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†5 Give me nights perfectly quiet, as on high plateaus west of the Mississippi, and I looking up at the stars; ¬† Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers, where I can walk undisturb‚Äôd; ¬† Give me for marriage a sweet-breath‚Äôd woman, of whom I should never tire; ¬† Give me a perfect child‚ÄĒgive me, away, aside from the noise of the world, a rural, domestic life; ¬† Give me to warble spontaneous songs, reliev‚Äôd, recluse by myself, for my own ears only; ¬†¬†10 Give me solitude‚ÄĒgive me Nature‚ÄĒgive me again, O Nature, your primal sanities!
Whitman is constantly battling against nature and society. He wants the sun and he wants the solitude but at the same time he misses the city, the lights, and the faces it brings. This is such an oxymoron because he wants two opposite things that can not be both possessed at the same time. Yet is is important to note that this is the time of the Industrial Revolution so the beautiful green that Whitman is used to seeing is now disappearing due to innovations, and technology.
O such for me! O an intense life! O full to repletion, and varied! ¬† The life of the theatre, bar-room, huge hotel, for me! ¬† The saloon of the steamer! the crowded excursion for me! the torch-light procession! ¬† The dense brigade, bound for the war, with high piled military wagons following; ¬†¬†35 People, endless, streaming, with strong voices, passions, pageants; ¬† Manhattan streets, with their powerful throbs, with the beating drums, as now; ¬† The endless and noisy chorus, the rustle and clank of muskets, (even the sight of the wounded;) ¬† Manhattan crowds, with their turbulent musical chorus‚ÄĒwith varied chorus, and light of the sparkling eyes; ¬† Manhattan faces and eyes forever for me. ¬†¬†40
At the end of the poem one can see that Whitman choosed innovations and technology rather than nature.
Whitman and the Natural World¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Walt Whitman‚Äôs writing has been greatly influenced by the natural world. Nature makes a presence that only Whitman can depict from either an overly sexualized manner or beautiful simple observations while being in nature. We will discuss how Whitman and nature are one in the same. In Specimen Days, in his later works he wrote beautiful poems and proses about the natural world. We will try to put into words as best as we can how we interpret his writings and put it into today‚Äôs standards.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The first poem we will discuss that stood out to us is A Sun Bath-Nakedness. From the name you can get a sense that this is Whitman at his solace, ‚ÄúI slowly hobble down these country lanes and across fields, in the good air- so I sit here in solitude with Nature- open, voiceless, mystic far removed, yet palpable, eloquent Nature‚ÄĚ (Whitman 830). You don‚Äôt get a feel for people just being themselves in nature anymore; connected to it and having deep feelings for it also. We feel that in this particular scene,¬†Whitman was trekking through a vast opened space taking in Nature‚Äôs beauty and excepting it with all its wonders, no questions asked.¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Nature was naked and I was also. It was too lazy, soothing. and joyous- equable to¬†speculate about. Yet, I might have thought somehow in this vein: Perhaps the inner never lost rapport we hold with earth, light, air, trees, &c., is not to be realized through eyes and mind only, but through the whole corporeal body, which I will not have blinded or bandaged any more than the eyes. Sweet, sane, still Nakedness in Nature! (Whitman 831).
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†This one quote solidifies everything we interpret Whitman and his thought process about nature is. We dug a little deeper with his writing to see the symbolism¬†with the first line he used. We wanted to find out what he meant by Nature being naked. We didn‚Äôt see the personification he embeds with it the first time we read it. He gave nature this human like quality that makes is easier for people who aren‚Äôt into nature a way to bond with nature as he had done. We wanted to be free in mind, body and spirit with ourselves without a care in the world. we wanted to show our true selves to the world to see that we who we are and to take us as we are, the good, bad and ugly. Naked.¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Christopher Clause, a critic, wrote about how his views about Nature and Whitman also. We wanted a twist on how others might view him and he goes on to say, ‚ÄúNature shares in the human fall and has altogether lost any independent selfhood. The only self that matters is the fatally flawed human one.‚ÄĚ (Clause). We gathered this from his article, Whitman, Hopkins, and the World’s Splendor. We understood his statement to be that the only thing that has matter in this world is one‚Äôs self. To Whitman he wanted everyone to see that everything, micro and macro, in the world has the utmost importance.¬†¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The next prose we will talk about will be Scenes on Ferry and River- Last Winter‚Äôs Nights. This prose was a simple observation I myself enjoy to do myself on every day to day travels. He mentions the people and animals as if they were the only things that mattered. ‚ÄúAnother– for two hours I cross‚Äôd and recross‚Äôd, merely for pleasure- for a still excitement‚ÄĚ (Whitman 859). His simplistic joys remind me of a child with no stress in the world. Within this prose it goes through a two month period of time. The one month he wrote about painted a beautiful picture was in Night of March 18, ‚Äô79:
As we walk‚Äôd up and down in the dark blue so mystic,
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† As we walk‚Äôd in silence the transparent shadowy night,
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† As I saw you had something to tell, as you bent to
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† me night after night,
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† As you droop from the sky low down, as if to my
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† side, (while the other stars all look‚Äôd on,)
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† As we wander‚Äôd together the solemn night (Whitman 860).
Each word he uses is strategically placed to illustrate the reader an ending to a long journey on the ferry. The words have this double meaning that makes this prose/poem seem almost dream like.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Walt Whitman wrote about Camden, equality, war, and his love for America. Most off all he wrote about nature with its mysteries and beauty. He wrote with such love for nature it is apparent from his writing; it‚Äôs as if nature was writing about itself.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Work’s Cited
Clausen, Christopher “Whitman, Hopkins, and the world’s splendor.” Sewanee Review 105.2 (1997): 175. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 2 Dec. 2009.
Whitman, Walt. Whitman Poetry and Prose. N.Y: Literary Classics of The United States, Inc, 1996. Print
Below is the remainder of the poem titled “Last of Ebb, and Daylight Waning” and its annotation….
Then to those far and away
The pool whirls and is loud¬†
There goes the great poets of this time
Here goes all my complaints and wishes
They disappear in the forever churning tide¬†
Forever in eternity
Keep churning tide
Do it forever you strong tide
Below ¬†is the annotation for “And yet not you Alone”….
Nor you, ye lost designs alone–nor failures, aspirations;
I know, divine deceitful ones, your glamour’s seeming;
Duly by you, from you, the tide and light again–duly the hinges turning,
Duly the needed discord-parts offsetting, blending,
Weaving from you, from Sleep, Night, Death itself,
The rhythmus of Birth eternal.
You are not alone even though you are surrounded by the twilight
You are not alone even through all the failures
The light overcomes the dark
The switch always is turning from light to dark
The both parts are tricking but are combined
When its night, people sleep, then the dark represents death
This leads to the afterlife
Finally the last poem “Proudly the Flood Comes In”…
PROUDLY the flood comes in, shouting, foaming, advancing,¬†
Long it holds at the high, with bosom broad outswelling,¬†
All throbs, dilates – the farms, woods, streets of cities – workmen at¬†
Mainsails, topsails, jibs, appear in the offing-steamers’ pennants¬†
of smoke-and under the forenoon sun,¬†
Freighted with human lives, gaily the outward bound, gaily the¬†
The flood comes in without hesitation
It floods so much without holding back
It floods the farms, woods, and cities
Ships appear to help
Many people are scared, but they are helped by the ship*
What makes these poems interesting is the fact that they have much to do with water which is a powerful force and needed for survival. Whitman loves to personify water in this section and also the sun and dark. My favorite part is how he connects the darkness and twilight the passing into the afterlife. It sounds so beautifully magical-almost vampireish.¬†
One main contrast of the ideas behind every page of my verses, compared with establish’d poems, is their different relative attitude towards God, towards the objective universe, and still more (by reflection, confession, assumption, &c.) the quite changed attitude of the ego, the one chanting or talking, towards himself and towards his fellow-humanity. It is certainly time for America, above all, to begin this readjustment in the scope and basic point of view of verse; for everything else has changed. As I write, I see in an article on Wordsworth, in one of the current English magazines, the lines, “A few weeks ago an eminent French critic said that, owing to the special tendency to science and to its all-devouring force, poetry would cease to be read in fifty years.” But I anticipate the very contrary. Only a firmer, vastly broader, new area begins to exist ‚ÄĒ nay, is already form’d ‚ÄĒ to which the poetic genius must emigrate. Whatever may have been the case in years gone by, the true use for the imaginative faculty of modern times is to give ultimate vivification to facts, to science, and to common lives, endowing them with the glows and glories and final illustriousness which belong to every real thing, and to real things only. Without that ultimate vivification ‚ÄĒ which the poet or other artist alone can give -reality would seem incomplete, and science, democracy, and life itself, finally in vain (Whitman 659).¬†
Theses words struck out to me because of the constant affirmation of ¬†the the changing ¬†of times. Whitman attitudes towards time, race, and gender was needed during that time. It was a time in which it was needed to be heard. The Revolution was over and it was a time for liberation. America needs man like Whitman wreak havoc and make people question themselves. Poetry is changing and the very existence ¬†of it will still remain. He’s in a way bridging the gap between different group of people connected to to make a more untied America. Another part that really stood out was when he talks about Shakespeare, ¬†to me a woner man of his time.¬†
Even Shakspere, who so suffuses current letters and art (which indeed have in most degrees grown out of him,) belongs essentially to the buried past. Only he holds the proud distinction for certain important phases of that past, of being the loftiest of the singers life has yet given voice to. All, however, relate to and rest upon conditions, standards, politics, sociologies, ranges of belief, that have been quite eliminated from the Eastern hemisphere, and never existed at all in the Western. As authoritative types of song they belong in America just about as much as the persons and institutes they depict. True, it may be said, the emotional, moral, and aesthetic natures of humanity have not radically changed ‚ÄĒ that in these the old poems apply to our times and all times, irrespective of date; and that they are of incalculable value as pictures of the past. I willingly make those admissions, and to their fullest extent; then advance the points herewith as of serious, even paramount importance (Whitman 663).¬†
It amazing how Whitman can see the artistry in other writers before his time. Even thought time has changed the one remaining factor is the poets writing will be forever glorified. The wold may be changing in negative and positive way , but their words will live in in books and the hearts of their followers.
During this week’s readings, the reader delves more into Whitman’s dreams. It is as though Whitman is reminiscing the war. This is why this section is called the Songs of Parting.
“Of these years I sing,
How they pass and have pass’d through convuls’d pains, as
How America illustrates birth, muscular youth, the promise,
the sure fulfillment, the absolute success, despite of
people-illustrates evil as well as good,
The vehement struggle so fierce for unity in one’s-self;
How many hold despairingly yet to the models departed,
caste, myths, obedience, compulsion, and to infidelity,
How few see the arrived models, the athletes, the Western
States, or see freedom or spirituality, or hold any faith in results,
How the great cities appear-how the Democratic masses,
turbulent, wilful, as I love them,
How the whirl , the contest, the wrestle of evil with good,
the sounding and resounding, keep on and on,
How America is the continent of glories, and of the triumph
of freedom and of the Democracies, and of the fruits of
society, and of all that is begun,” (600-601).
I chose these lines because it focuses on Whitman analyzing time. When he says “Of the years I sing” , he is going back in time thinking about everything that has happened to him personally. He speaks about all the struggles that are being overcome and all the difficulties he saw and sees America going through. Then Whitman goes on to say how not everyone can even get close to this “Western Freedom”. Beyond that, Whitman discusses the “results of the war”. He sees how slavery has ended and admires how the people of “democratic masses appear”. Then Whitman ends with just recognizing America as the country of peace and virtue and democratic integrity. From this one can sense that Whitman is finally seeing his dream beginning.
Then I chose lines from Song at Sunset because it is a song that Whitman sings for the left over battles that are yet to be won.
“I sing to the last equalities modern or old, …
O setting sun! though the times has come,
I still warble under you, if none else does, unmitigated
I chose this because Whitman is coming to a close with his battles and he says that he will adore the sun and everything because he is at peace now. There he says” the time has come” so he leaves happily in for adoration because the civil war united the nation and people of color.
This week I would like to focus on the passage that is titled Human and Heroic New York because whenever I see writings about New York it makes me reminisce what it is known for.
The general subjective view of New York and Brooklyn…
which I may call the human interior and exterior…
no need to specify minutely …the human qualities of these vast cities…
is to me comforting, even heroic, beyond statement…
clear eyes that look straight at you…
To-day, I should say-defiant of cynics and pessimists,
and with a full knowledge of all their exceptions
an appreciative view that New York gives the directest proof yet of successful democracy (847-848).
I chose this quote from the passage because Whitman personifies the city and compares it to a human being. This is especially seen as Whitman calls Manhattan the interior and Brooklyn the exterior of New York. It is the same as someone liking someone for their personality or for their physical features. Then I love how Whitman states that the human qualities of New York makes it the best example of democracy. What Whitman means from this is that he wants the two sub cities of New York City to unite under one ; and Whitman envisions this to happen.
Now I would like to focus on a passage that Whitman wrote that is called a “Night Remembrance”.¬† This passage spoke to me because I appreciate nature as well, but the imagery Whitman uses just completely makes me appreciate how beautiful the earth is.
“I was down here with a friend till after midnight; everything a
miracle of splendor-the glory of the stars, and completely
rounded moon-the passing clouds, silver and
luminous-tawny-now and then masses of vapory illuminated
scud-and silently by my side my dear friend. The shades of the
trees, and patches of moonlight on the grass”(854).
I am guessing that during those times, one can see the stars and moon so brightly. Today, I can never truly say that I got a great view of the stars where they light up the sky. Besides that, I just love Whitman’s diction which describes the constellations so well.¬† His use of words such as splendor and luminous just pop out because he really creates the image but in words. This is just another poem that connects Whitman to nature. However, it is interesting to see how in this passage Whitman includes a friend who must be someone special because nature is something he hold so dear to his heart.
But I guess we will never know who this special friend is…
For the Material Museum Culture Exhibit I was given the task of writing about Thomas Eakins paintings which are The Gross Clinic and The Swimming Hole. First, I would like to give a brief summary of Thomas Eakins so the readers can know his background and where his artwork ideologies may have come from.
Thomas Eakins was born in 1844 and died in 1916. His paintings were mostly based on portraits rather than abstract shapes or any other genre. Besides that, Eakins was a teacher at Philadelphia’s Academy of the Arts. But what Americans and future artists revere Eakins for is his portraits. Thomas Eakins potraits categorizes him as the founder of American Realism(Thomas Eakins’ Swimming Picture 1). However, during his time Eakins was highly criticized for his admiration of the human anatomy; something he expresses in his portraits. Due to this, his sexuality was up in the air. Yet, one this is certain, Eakins portraits involve his personal life (Erwin 655-664). This will be most evident as we take a look into The Gross Clinic painting.
This painting was conducted during Eakin’s stay at the Jefferson Medical College in 1874. During this time, Dr. Gross is the Chair of Surgery for the school and was asked by Eakins if it was possible that he make a portrait of Gross conducting a typical surgical lesson. In the portrait one can see how Dr. Gross standing while all the nurses and clerks and students surround him. They can be identified because they are wearing the traditional business garment color which is black. Then on the left hand side of Dr. Gross, one can see the mother who is covering her eyes dressed in a black veil. According to historians, the feel as though the mother is being melodramatic since this operation is going to save her child’s life. However, the vividness of the operation is often criticized as being “too realistic to be in display in polite Victorian society” (Jefferson 1). Then if one analyzes the doctor, one can see that Eakins thought the doctor as a hero. Dr. Gross stands above everyone and then has a light color contrasts that occur around his face as though he is looking up towards heaven. This is also evident in how the Doctor is the most detailed figure in the portrait whereas the people in the seats and those below him are almost like shadows.
Now I shall focus on the portrait of the Swimming Hole.
This portrait of the swimming hole represents Thomas Eakins and five other students near a creek located in Philadelphia. Because of this portrait, Eakins was told to leave his study because this was such an outrage in Victorian society. Eakins tried to show this portrait at an Exhibition in 1885 and tried to show it but instead the person ahead of the viewing returned it to Whitman for something that was less controversial. Now if we take a more artistic look at the painting, it is interesting to note that Eakins included himself in the portrait. Therefore, it is safe to say that Eakins feels as though the action of being ‘naked’ is not wrong. Rather, Eakins glorifies it and even accepts the fact that all the people who are naked are men. It is as though he is making a statement about homosexuality as well. In that time period, homosexuality was not something that was considered normal but rather a sin during those times when the Protestant Revolution was at its peak (Barry 1).
Yet these two things connect to Whitman because Whitman himself is obsessed with the human anatomy as well. Due to their abnormal admiration for the human physical body, both people were considered outcasts in their society since that does not go well with regular Victorian society. Beyond that, I saw in Whitman’s writing something similar to that of Thomas Eakins’ swimming hole portrait. The passage is called a Sunbath-Nakedness.
“I slowly hobble down these country lanes and across fields, in the good air
as I sit here in solitude with Nature…I merge myself in the scene, in the perfect day
Hovering over the clear brook water…As I walk’d slowly over the grass,
the sun shown out enough to show the shadow moving with me …
Nature was naked and I was also…
Sweet, sane, still Nakedness in Nature! ah if poor, sick, prurient
humanity in cities might really know you once more! Is not
nakedness then indecent? No, not inherently…It is your thought ,
your sophistication, your fear, your respectability, that is
indecent. There comes moods when these cloths of ours are not
only too irksome to wear, but are themselves
As you can see, like Eakins, Whitman does not think that being naked is a taboo. Rather, he thinks it is the best way for people to get back to their true humble selves. One can see this as he asks a rhetorical question, “Is not nakedness indecent?” From him asking that, the reader knows that he believes that society just created nakedness to be so wrong. Rather, Whitman says “it is your thought, your sophistication, your fear, your respectability, that is indecent” From this, it is evident that people of power and just pure academics were making nakedness such a horrible thing. Whitman somewhat connects to the bible because Adam and Eve were in the garden naked and until they ate from the tree of knowledge they knew what they were doing was sin. Yet, before that it was innocent for them to be naked so that parallels to what Whitman is saying. Overall, this directly related to Whitman because like Eakins, he wants to be closer to nature and go against the society norms that thinks that being nude is so wrong.
Erwin, Robert “Who Was Thomas Eakins?.” Antioch Review 66.4 (2008): 655-664. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 18 Oct. 2009.
“Thomas Eakins’s swimming picture.” American Artist (VNU eMedia, Inc.) 60.644 (1996): 8. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 18 Oct. 2009.
During the readings for this week I was surprised to find a more sympathetic Whitman. In his other writings, one often finds satire and content for those who are not for the unite. However, I found writing that was more sympathetic that just really centered on good virtues rather than the bad. For this weeks readings, I would like to focus first on The White House by Moonlight.
“The White House of future poems, and of dreams and dramas, there in the soft and copious moon-thegorgeous front, in the trees, under the lustrous floodingmoon, full of reality, full of illusion-the forms of the trees,leafless, silent, in trunk and myriad-angles of branches, underthe stars and sky-the White House of the land, and of beauty and night-sentries at the gates…pacing there in blue overcoats…eyeing you with sharp eyes, whichever way you move” (742).
I chose to focus on this because white represents so much in society, therefore when one comes across the word white, one must stop and analyze. It is commonly found that white is used to symbolize purity, innocence, and good. Its just interesting that Whitman chooses to describe the White House with the moon light because he is expressing that it stands strong even at night. Then if we take a look at the first line which states, “The White House of future poems” it is evident that the White House represents unity of the union and the rebellious states to Whitman. It is the symbol of the America that Whitman knows is not going to die, but rather live on for people to tell to future generations.
Now I would like to focus on a passage on Death of President Lincoln because it was a very graphic passage for me.
“He leaves for America’s history and biography…UNIONISM, in its truest and amplest sense, form’d the hardpan of his character. These he seal’d with his life. The tragic splendor of his death, purging, illuminating all, throws round his form, his head, an aureole that will remain and will grow brighter through time…He was assassinated-but the Union is not assassinated… Death…obliterates a hundred…a President…but the nation is immortal” (787-788).
I really like this passage because I love how it just correlates with history and true American Patriotism. This truly connects to the White House passage because it demonstrates how the White House is the beacon of hope and the President is the Leader who acts upon for hope. It is just interesting to see this more sentimental, more relaxed version of Whitman. Whitman’s admiration for Lincoln just touches me because I am just so used to him hating on people’s lack of sensitivity and understanding. I am assuming, because all Whitman writes about is unity and peace, that this is Whitman’s perfect example of everything he believes in and stands for so I can feel, somewhat in undertones, his pain.