have patience and indulgence toward the people…

us-flag-21-apr-2017

 

This is what you shall do…

 

 

This is what you shall do


by Walt Whitman
“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”
 
“This is what you shall do…” by Walt Whitman, from the preface of Leaves of Grass. Public domain.
Jefferson turned down a request to appear at the 50th anniversary celebration in Washington, D.C.; it was the last letter he ever wrote, and in it he expressed his hope for the Declaration of Independence:
“May it be to the world, what I believe it will be … the signal of arousing men to burst the chains … and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. […] All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. … For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.”

wisdom

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“Of the Terrible Doubt of Appearances” by Walt Whitman.

When he whom I love travels with me or sits a long while
    holding me by the hand,
When the subtle air, the impalpable, the sense that words and
    reason hold not, surround us and pervade us,
Then I am charged with untold and untellable wisdom, I am
    silent, I require nothing further,

 

It’s the birthday of Walt Whitman (books by this author), born in West Hills, Long Island, New York (1819). Whitman worked as a printing press typesetter, teacher, journalist, and newspaper editor. He was working as a carpenter, his father’s trade, and living with his mother in Brooklyn, when he read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “The Poet,” which claimed the new United States needed a poet to properly capture its spirit. Whitman decided he was that poet. “I was simmering, simmering, simmering,” Whitman later said. “Emerson brought me to a boil.”
Whitman began work on his collection Leaves of Grass, crafting an American epic that celebrated the common man. He did most of the typesetting for the book himself, and he made sure the edition was small enough to fit in a pocket, later explaining, “I am nearly always successful with the reader in the open air.” He was 37 years old when he paid for the publication of 795 copies out of his own pocket.
Many of Whitman’s poems were criticized for being openly erotic. One of Whitman’s earliest reviews had called the book “a mass of stupid filth,” accusing Whitman of “that horrible sin not to be mentioned among Christians.” But rather than censoring himself, Whitman added 146 poems to his third edition.
He began to grow a literary reputation that swung from genius to moral reprobate, depending on the reader. Thoreau wrote, “It is as if the beasts spoke.” Willa Cather referred to Whitman as “that dirty old man.” Emerson praised Whitman’s collection as “the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom America has yet contributed,” and the critic William Michael Rossetti proclaimed that Whitman was a talent on par with Shakespeare.
Whitman left New York when his brother was wounded in the Civil War, traveling to Virginia and then to Washington, D.C., to serve as a volunteer Army hospital nurse. He had a reputation for unconventional clothing and manners. He wrote, “I cock my hat as I please, indoors and out.” With the help of well-placed friends, Whitman eventually found work as a low-level clerk in the Department of the Interior. But when former Iowa Senator James Harlan discovered Whitman worked in his department, he had him dismissed, proclaiming Leaves of Grass was “full of indecent passages,” and that Whitman himself was a “very bad man” and a “free lover.”
Whitman’s friend William Douglas O’Connor immediately came to his defense. He arranged for Whitman to be transferred to the attorney general’s office, and he published a pamphlet refuting Harlan’s charges. Titled The Good Gray Poet: A Vindication, the small book praised Whitman’s “nobleness of character” and went on to quote from positive reviews — and to ridicule Harlan as an under-read philistine.
The pamphlet became more than a vindication: it helped to radically alter the average reader’s perception of Whitman as both a writer and as a man: Out with the image of the bawdy nonconformist and in with the “good gray poet,” the nickname for Whitman that is still popular to this day.
Whitman spent the last 20 years of his life revising and expanding Leaves of Grass, issuing the eighth and final edition in 1891, saying it was “at last complete — after 33 y’rs of hackling at it, all times & moods of my life, fair weather & foul, all parts of the land, and peace & war, young & old.”
Today, most scholars agree that Whitman was likely gay. When he was asked directly, toward the end of his life, Whitman declined to answer. But he did say, shortly before he died, that sex was “the thing in my work which has been most misunderstood — that has excited the roundest opposition, the sharpest venom, the unintermitted slander, of the people who regard themselves as the custodians of the morals of the world.”

dandelion in the wind

dandelions

blowin’ in the wind

I Heard You Solemn-Sweet Pipes of the Organ


by Walt Whitman

I heard you solemn-sweet pipes of the organ as last Sunday 
morn I pass’d the church,


Winds of autumn, as I walk’d the woods at dusk I heard your 
long-stretch’d sighs up above so mournful,


I heard the perfect Italian tenor singing at the opera, I heard 
the soprano in the midst of the quartet singing;


Heart of my love! you too I heard murmuring low through 
one of the wrists around my head,


Heard the pulse of you when all was still ringing little bells
 last night under my ear.

 
“I Heard You Solemn-Sweet Pipes of the Organ” by Walt Whitman. Public domain.

Brain Grease

HayRouleaux

illustrator: Hay Rouleaux

Brain Grease

Go back to sleep.

Let the brain grease work.

Like Whitman, Rousseau, and JFK:

From grandfather politics come dreams and youth;

indelible images of Africa,

and a “Song of Myself”.

(see writersalmanac.org/December14,2015)

Definition #264 Humans

created by humans

created by humans

It’s the birthday of the literary critic Harold Bloom born in New York City (1930).

His parents were Jewish immigrants, and his first language was Yiddish,

but he fell in love with English poetry and read it before he had ever heard English spoken aloud.

He started reading Walt Whitman and Hart Crane when he was eight years old.

He went on to become one of the most influential literary critics in the country.

He is one of the last critics who argues that great literature is a product of genius,

and that we shouldn’t read to understand history or politics or culture,

but to

understand the human condition.

Definition #227 Simmering

Owen mimics his Mom; grabs her eyeglasses, and grins. He took 35 years to study this look!

Owen mimics his Mom; grabs her eyeglasses, and grins. He took 35 years to study this look!

expression simmers:

thirty years later erupts

with volcanic grin!

It’s the birthday of Walt Whitman , born in West Hills, Long Island, New York (1819). Whitman worked as a printing press typesetter, teacher, journalist, and newspaper editor. He was working as a carpenter, his father’s trade, and living with his mother in Brooklyn, when he read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “The Poet,” which claimed the new United States needed a poet to properly capture its spirit. Whitman decided he was that poet. “I was simmering, simmering, simmering,” Whitman later said. “Emerson brought me to a boil.”
Whitman began work on his collection Leaves of Grass, crafting an American epic that celebrated the common man. He did most of the typesetting for the book himself, and he made sure the edition was small enough to fit in a pocket, later explaining, “I am nearly always successful with the reader in the open air.” He was 37 years old when he paid for the publication of 795 copies out of his own pocket.

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