Saturday, 7 November 2009

Poets 1: Walt Whitman

This post is the first of a series of them dedicates to talk about poets and poesy.

To start with, I have chosen the American writer Walt Whitman and his mythical book “Leaves of Grass”.

I found Walt Whitman out when I was a teenager. The first time I read "Leaves of Grass" his verses had a profound effect on me. This is undoubtedly a cult book that shows a vitalist and optimistic way to live.

Brief Biography
Walt Whitman was born on 31st of March of 1819 in a farm of West Hills, near to Huntington, Long Island.
Between 1830 and 1834 he learnt the job of printer.
Between 1836 and 1838 he taught in several schools in Long Island.
After then, he published a monthly magazine called “The Long Islander” in Huntington but two years later he came back to the teaching. By this time he also published sort stories in “Democratic Review”.
In 1842 Whitman worked as editor manager at The Aurora and The Tatler and published a novel against the acohol called “Frankin Evans”.
Between 1842 and 1848 he was the editor manager at Daily Eagle.
In 1848 he travelled to New Orleans where he was the editor manager at Daily Crescent. Whitman was fired because of political reasons and, after working at the Brooklyn Freeman came back to New York where worked as a carpenter in its family-run company.
By those years he also wrote poems and in 1855 he self-published “Leaves of Grass”. His book was well received by the critics and in the year 1856 the second edition was published.
He continued his career as a journalist and the third edition of “Leaves of Grass” came out in 1860.
On 12th of April of 1861 the Civil War broke out. A year later Whitman visited his brother who had been wounded in the front. He also visited other hospitals of Army.
In 1865 he got a position in the Department of the Interior but was fired again because the Interior Secretary considered “Leaves of grass” an obscene book.
Along the following years several books by Whitman were published.
In 1867 the fourth edition of “Leaves and Grass” came out, in 1871-73 the fifth one, in 1876 the sixth one, in 1881-82 the seventh, in 1888 the eighth one and in 1891 the ninth one. Along the editions, Whitman did some modifications.
On 26th of March of 1892, Walt Whitman died and was buried in the Harleigh Cemetery of Candem into a grave designed by himself.

I celebrate myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun
there are millions of suns left,
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand
nor look through the eyes of the dead
nor feed on spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.

Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.
Out of the dimness opposite equals advance
Always substance and increase,
Always a knit of identity
Always distinction
Always a breed of life
To elaborate is no avail
Learned and unlearned feel that it is so
None obeyed the command to kneel,
Some made a mad and helpless rush… some stood stark and straight,
A few fell at once, shot in the temple or heart… the living and dead lay together,
The maimed and mangled dug in the dirt… the new comers saw them there;
Some half-killed attempted to crawl away,
These were dispatched with bayonets or battered with the blunts of muskets;
A youth not seventeen years old seized his assassin till two more came to release him,
The three were all torn, and covered with the boy’s blood.
Here and there with dimes on the eyes walking,
To feed the greed of the belly the brains liberally spooning,
Tickets buying or talking or selling, but in to the feast never once going;
Many sweating and ploughing and thrashing, and then the chaff for payment receiving,
A few idly owning, and they wheat continually claiming.


  1. There was a picture of Marilyn Monroe I really like:

    Look at the book she is reading...

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. You're welcome!
    I wonder what she feels or thinks...