Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Whitman

Sitting outside today and reading Whitman's "Song of Myself" and found myself crying--overtired, sick, still stressed--and in just the right place to cry to lit that's moving. (Things are better with Robert, though, much better). I had been reading "Song of Myself" on the metro, but am thinking that outdoors is really the only place to read the poem--reading it inside seems kind of pointless:

"You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life.

Long have you timidly waded, holding a plank by the shore,
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea, and rise again and nod to me and
shout, and laughingly dash with your hair.

[ . . . . ]

The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadowed wilds,
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

I depart as air . . . . I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh in eddies and drift it in lacy jags.

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your bootsoles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop some where waiting for you"

The last section are the concluding lines of the poem. Whitman meant to leave off the period at the end. Wise choice.

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