Esteemed thinker: Walt Whitman

ink blot test Point of view; (or POV which I now recognize as a widely used acronym in blogs) is a powerful tool. It enables us to see through someone else’s eyes or if you prefer…walk in their shoes. And with ‘point of view’ we find many perspectives that we either share in agreement with or disagree wholeheartedly…because after all, it is a point of view. A point of view can be an appraisal or opinion; it even has its own literary term when the writer wishes to convey a particular posture… “the narrative view point”… when the story is told from a consistent perspective. It can be in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd person; singular or plural. Sometimes the narrator is all knowing as with the “omniscient”, sometimes as a speculative observer: objective, and then it can be a limited point of view through the scrutiny of a character: subjective.

But when we get to poetry, this genre takes on a whole new realm; for looking at life through the point of view of the poet is quite unique…so unique that many times the reader finds himself or herself disconnected or to the contrary… even more connected than he or she imagined possible.

For the poetic design is composed with limited verbiage; as though every word was a breath that was exhaled… giving life to the thought or idea. Then as we the reader inhales the image; it expands in our own minds allowing us to observe the big idea…and doing such… this point of view is bestowed as a gift that we may keep or discard..whichever seems most fit.

Whitman And so, I hope you will allow today’s blog to borrow a moment of your time for the esteemed thinker: Walt Whitman (1819-1892) ; a most extraordinary man, considered by many (including this blogger) as one of America’s greatest and most significant poets. Born on Long Island, Whitman lived in Brooklyn, N.Y. where his numerous occupations as printer, teacher, editor, and reporter led him to what his name is tantamount with, writer.. His most noted work; Leaves of Grass was self-published; inspired by his travels through the frontiers of the United States and his appreciation for Ralph Waldo Emerson. Although critics of his time were not always kind in regards to his work, his legacy as a monumental contributor to American literature has withstood even the most ardent of critics. Lastly, Walt Whitman is claimed to be the first American “poet of democracy”.

From his book titled Complete Prose Work, here is Mr. Whitman’s point of view regarding poetry.

“… Strange as it may seem, the topmost proof of a race is its own born poetry. The presence of that, or the absence, each tells its story. As the flowering rose or lily, as the ripened fruit to a tree, the apple or the peach, no matter how fine the trunk, or copious or rich the branches and foliage, here waits sine qua non at last. The stamp of entire and finished greatness to any nation, to the American Republic among the rest, must be sternly withheld till it has put what it stands for in the blossom of original, first-class poems. No imitations will do…”

I would be remiss to you, readers of this blog, if I did not grace this page with at least one of Walt Whitman’s poems. There are too many greats to choose… so I will keep to my theme…

When the Full-Grown Poet Came

When the full-grown poet came,
Out spake pleased Nature (the round impassive globe, with all its
shows of day and night,) saying, He is mine;
But out spake too the Soul of man, proud, jealous and unreconciled,
Nay he is mine alone;
—Then the full-grown poet stood between the two, and took each
by the hand;
And to-day and ever so stands, as blender, uniter, tightly holding hands,
Which he will never release until he reconciles the two,
And wholly and joyously blends them.

(To my friend and fellow blogger, Rohan, thank you for your suggestions!)

8 thoughts on “Esteemed thinker: Walt Whitman

  1. Walt Whitman was a cousin of my 3rd great-grandfather and he was cousin to many great and well known authors too so maybe that is where I get my love of reading ?

  2. Brava! Like hearing a favorite piece of music, for the first time! You give the most perfect introductions.

    Like my buddy Joe (Above), I lived quite close to West Hills NY. You would love the trail there I’m sure, and his house is beautifully restored. There is something magical, in reading passages from “Leaves Of Grass”, whilst being there on a spring day.
    A truly great writer…

    “I no doubt deserved my enemies, but I don’t believe I deserved my friends.” Walt Whitman

    I’m a self effacing guy, I always have been. Kind of a contradictory disposition for a photographer,,, we all adore praise. It makes us feel that our images have some worth, which, in turn makes us feel that we ourselves do. Being called a “friend” has meaning to me. Especially when the declaration is from a someone whom I admire greatly, such as yourself. I assure you the feeling is entirely mutual.

    Every time I come into contact with your blog, I always leave with a feeling of excitement. Excitement at having learned something new, and excitement at knowing there is so much more to learn. I thank you for that.
    Your friend, Rohan

    • Rohan, in our life’s journey sometimes we connect with a person through different ways or interests…. one manner is through their art, and clearly your artistic energy has spoken. I enjoy reading your comments for they are always insightful, thoughtful, and meaningful … if you don’t mind me saying rather cerebral. Blogging takes time, contemplation, and mindfulness, and if one is lucky as a byproduct he or she will encounter an extraordinary person … thank you for your amazing words! Looking forward to more of your beautiful photographs… friend!
      I know I would love seeing Whitman’s home-museum…must be heavenly! At least I have my “giant” of a book Leaves of Grass close-by where I can reach up and dip into a poem whenever I wish!

      • Cerebral? Yeah. It’s “All in the head” with me. Others have said, “clinical”. I prefer your observation.

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