Whitman readings, 9/14Edit

Poems we think are connected to the 1855 preface.

Begin by making sure you've followed the three steps prescribed on the Main Page & that you're logged in. Then imitate the example below, noticing that it starts with a bullet (*) and ends with a signature (~~~~).

  • "Beat! Beat! Drums!" talks about the damage that the Civil War has on the country. The "congegation" represents the United States population, and the "solemn church represents the United States as a whole. As if to say that the American people were innocent when the war "burst like a ruthless force". The quote as a whole reads "Through the windows- through the doors- burst like a ruthless force, Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,"(pg.213). In the preface it reads "a live nation can always cut a deep mark and can have the best authority the cheapest... namely from its own soul."(pg494). This refrences how the Civil War "cut a deep mark" into the American culture. Most importantly it inflicts the damage from "its own soul". The preface and "Beat! Beat! Drums!" are linked due to the fact of how they both reference the distruction of the Civil War, and how America has done it to itself. JoeFlannery
  • .The preface's focus on America and patriotism is evident when Whitman says, "America is the race of races"(p.494). Whitman is clearly an American and has much pride for his country as seen throughout his poems such as "From Paumanok Starting I Fly Like a Bird"(p.213). In this poem Whitman is depicted as a bird flying from Paumonok to many great western states singing each of their unique songs, and at the end of the day every state sings the American song. Whitman loves how America is united and even though each state is different, at the end of the day they all come together. Sept 14 Ben Schroeder
  • In the preface, Whitman talks in great detail about "the great poet". In the poem "Of the Visages of Things", Whitman writes about how he has changed through his ife(434). It is no secret that Whitman wanted to be the great American poet, and an in this poem and older Whitman talks about how he has become a greater person. This great poet has many qualities, but one of the most important ones is the ability "bestow on every object or quality its fit proportions", meaning judge everything as it is, and not be biased(496). "Of the Visages of things", Whitman talks about how he now has the objectiveness of the great poet. He says judges, jurors, and even the president can be just as much a criminal, as a convicted one. He also says ugly people are acceptable, and detected people are just good as he is(434). As this is one of Whitman's later poems it is interesting think about whether he is seeing how he lived up to his idea of the great poet, or if this is a reflection caused by some other motive.Sept 14 Danny Winton
  • The preface's idea of the poet as the "one complete lover of the known universe" (p. 498) is an interesting background to the poem "Long I thought that knowledge" (pp. 432-3), where Whitman brings together the idea of the incomplete poet (in love with the false idol of "knowledge") and the authentic lover-poet. At the same time the poem complicates the idea because it seems to insist that the precious landscapes of North America (isn't that a big part the "known universe" Whitman is in love with?) are jealous lovers, to be abandoned by the poet in favor of a truer love. What is the true love-object of the true poet, then? Wareh 18:32, September 5, 2012 (UTC)
  • The preface's focus on "All free American workmen and workwomen"(p.495), as well as the recurring theme of "the American poet"(pg.495) are both omnipresent throughout the entirety of his book of poetry. It is clear that Whitman has extreme patriotism and pride for the country, finding the United States to be the greatest country mostly because of the population of people inhabiting it, particuarly the working class and poets. "Of all nations the United States with veins full of poetical stuff most need poets and will doubtless have the greatest and use them the greatest"(p.496) These themes can be seen very strongly in "Songs of the Banner at Daybreak"(p. 214-219), especially the third of the "Poet" sections. It is written from the perspective of a poet observing the working people of the country with patriotic pride, connecting back to three of the preface's prominent themes. Colleen Nugent, September 13, 2012.
  • The preface's idea of a "master of nature and passion and death, and of all terror and all pain" (pp. 500) parallels Whitman's "Look Down Fair Moon" (pp. 241), where the moon is a sacred being. Written from the perspective of a soldier, the daytime holds "the dead on their backs with arms toss'd wide" (line 3, pp. 241) while the night holds the promise of a moonbeam. There is an intimate and holy relationship between the poet and nature, where the moon (and its "nimbus") has the ability to cleanse the poet's tragic surroundings, giving him hope in a time of war. Abigail Hollander, September 13, 2012.
  • The preface has a very beautiful explanation of the poet. The poet is referred to as "supreme" (pp. 500), and Whitman speaks of how "nothing can jar him... suffering and darkness cannot-- death and fear cannot". The poet is this powerful and somewhat superior being with abilities that not everyone has, but everyone can have. I saw this idea really connect to Section 50 in "Songs of Myself". Whitman refers to something inside of him that he cannot name. He elaborates later to say "To it the creation is the friend whose embracing awakes me" (pp 68). I read this as the undefined thing that is inside all poets. Reading the preface, I understood it as the poet having this entire different view and opinion on things that is unique, but achievable for everyone. The poem was demonstrating that Whitman has this in him, and he has achieved it. He explains it by not being able to fully explain it, because it is this untangible thing. The way I saw it, Whitman using himself as an example of the poet he describes in the preface. Sabra Mwaura September 13, 2012
  • I chose to analyze Walt Whitman’s Salut Au Monde and noticed several key themes including the environment, people, and connectedness, both in this poem and in the Preface to the Leaves of Grass. Throughout the poem, the style appears to be in free verse, while still maintaining a sense of order and flow. Whitman uses question and answer and repetition, which helps provide a structure to the poem and focus the reader. Erica Jacobs September 13th, 2012.
  • In the preface the idea of "he is individual... he is complete"(pg.497) shares analogous ideas with Whitman’s “A Song for Occupations 1”(pg. 159-60). Individuality comes into play when having men and women in the workforce. “Neither a servant nor a master I… I will be even with you and you shall be even with me,”(pg.159) Whitman’s point is the individual is who they are and should accept who they are. The poem furthers the idea of accepting your individual self when Whitman asks the reader, “Why what have you thought of yourself? Is it you then that thought yourself less?...”(pg.160) The idea of finding yourself and being true to how you are not what others think is one that Whitman expresses within his writings. Lucy Miller, September 13, 2012.
  • In the preface Whitman claims that America (he in this case) "(he) shall be the fittest for his days" correlating with his poem "Pioneer! O Pioneer!"(pp. 211-215). I found that the poem "Pioneer! O Pioneer!" related to many different aspects of the preface, especially the idea of survival of the fittest where "All the pulses of the world, Falling in they beat for us, with the Western movement beat" (pp. 213). The idea of the United States being elite is reiterated by dissecting Americas roots and how that led (and is still allowing) the US to being leaders worldwide. Kate Kozain September 13,2012
  • The preface is a very insightful indicator of the major themes Whitman writes about in “The Leaves of Grass”. It is no surprise to the reader that one of Whitman’s loves is the American frontier. In the preface Whitman writes, “His (the American poet) spirit responds to his country’s spirit… he incarnates its geography and natural life and rivers and lakes.” (pp. 494) This theme of the American Poet’s spirit is relevant in many poems including “Bivouac on a Mountain Side” where Whitman writes, “Below a fertile valley spread, with barns and he orchards of summer, behind, the terraced sides of a mountain, abrupt, in places rising high, broken, with rocks, with clinging cedars, with tall shapes dingily seen…” (pp. 226) In the preface the author gives us an overview topic of his main themes and beliefs, while in other poems, including the “Bivouac on a Mountain Side”, he gives the readers an example of his love for the majestic American frontier. This spirit, which is the love for America’s geography from the American poet, carries into a multitude of Whitman’s poems. Sarah Leffel September 13th, 2012.
  • In the preface, Whitman’s description of the great poet as one who “judges as the sun falling on a helpless thing […] in the talk of the soul and eternity and God off of his equal plane he is silent” (p.496) sheds light on silence as a signifier in the poem “Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun” (p.235). In the poem, Whitman addresses “O Nature” as he exclaims “Keep your silent splendid sun”, suggesting that silence is a characteristic virtue of nature. Considering that the great poet, personified as the sun, connects silence and nature implies that nature, in the acute eyes of the poet, is on the same conceptual plane as the soul, eternity and God. Throughout Leaves of Grass, Whitman frequently makes connections between nature, its infinite quality and his notions of God. The overall extrapolation here is that nature lies beyond judgment and is thus of utmost significance. While silence is assigned its value,the meaning behind the loud and busy lives of men and women would prove to be an interesting and appropriate follow-up analysis. Alex Speak (talk) 05:59, September 14, 2012 (UTC)
  • In the 1855 preface and the poem "To You", Whitman addresses the relationship that the poet forms with the reader. In the preface Whitman writes, "Obideiene does not master him, he maters it. (...) He baffles the swiftest runners as he stands and easily overtakes and envelopes them" (496). Here, Whitman specifies the poet's natural tendency to see details in his environment along with the poet's natural tendency to express the details through poetic language. The reader knows this and examines, decodes, and admires the secrets of the poets work. In the poem "To You" Whitman writes, "who ever you are, now I place my hand on you, that you be my poem (...)" (176), Whitman is the poet and he speaks directly to the reader. He specifically says that even though he does not know the reader on a personal level, he is still sharing his deepest thoughts and ideas with him. He believes his ideas and beliefs are moral, and decides that the reader is worthy of being taught these morals. "I whisper with my lips close to your ear (...)", Whitman hopes that as he shares these beliefs, the reader will adapt some of appreciate his intellect. Molly Cohen, September 14, 2012
  • Amongst his patriotic exertions and explanations of the true poet Whitman, in his preface, makes the important point that simplicity is the best style of poetry and perhaps the most emotive. "Sometimes with One I Love" exemplifies simplicity in both point and language, as do many of the poems in "Calamus." This is a small four- line poem, but it is not at all bare. When the narrator says "I fill myself with rage and fear" the reader cannot help but empathize, for everyone has more than once in there life felt this way. In four lines the themes of unrequited love, self-awareness, personal evolution and catharsis are all recognized. The poet resolves that although "[their] love was not returned...out of that [they] have written these songs." The lesson to be learned from such a short piece is that there can always come something good or redemptive out of something bad or discouraging. It would not have been as effective if more than those four lines were devoted to the subject. This was a message Whitman wanted sent to not only his audience but a certain someone clearly. The topic does not require interpretation because the actual truth is powerful on its own. Had Whitman dodged the true topic by stating some general aphorism or cliché such as "love hurts" the reader would be falling asleep at their desk. Simplicity does not always have to exist duplicitously in both style and topic, however. For example "Scented Herbage of my Breast" could be mistakenly labeled as difficult or complex, but the truth is that although it is complicated in regard to metaphor it is transparent in regard to meaning. The key to deciphering this particular poem is listening to tone; clearly the speaker is hopeful that his legacy will continue. In fact, Whitman's legacy of simplicity and honesty in American poetry lives on. Kgork94 (Kylie A. Gorski), September 14, 2012
  • This stanza from taken from page 43 of Whitman, Poetry and Prose, “I resist anything better then my own diversity, And breathe the air and leave plenty after me, And am not stuck up, and am in my place.” can be directly interpreted as his relationship with physical space and ones own body. In many occasions he will talk about ‘self’ as a balancing act between the surroundings. In my opinion, this is a very profound way to describe the humbling nature and physics balances us exactly where we need to be to exist successfully. This stanza relates to the ideas talked about in the preface (1855) page 8-9, “He bestows on every object or quality its fit proportion neither more nor less. He is the arbiter of the diverse and he is the key. He is the equalizer of his age and land.” Which almost stands as a rewording of the idea that, humans are here for a reason in exactly the right place, there is no need to be greedy because that is what sets us off balance. This idea comes up frequently in Whitman’s work. Maya Whalen MAWK 26 (talk) 17:54, September 15, 2012 (UTC)
  • In the preface, it reads " - and who in his spirit in any emergency whatever neither hurries or avoids death" (Pg. 507, lines 12-13). This line signifies a theme of death in Whitman's poetry. This stanza relates to the poem Death's Valley on page 412. The two parallel in the sense of discussing how death is not feared upon. One line in Death's Valley reads "Nor gloom's ravines, nor bleak, nor dark - for I do not fear thee.." is an example that death is not a fear of mankind. Whitman goes on to discuss in this poem that death is a way of peace because the agony of suffering before death is too painful. He gives specific examples of people suffering in lines 7 - 9, "And I have watch'd the death-hours of the old; and seen the infant die; The rich with all his nurses and his doctors; And then the poor, in meagerness and poverty." He states that it is a peaceful happening when death occurs because mankind is no longer in pain. In line 6 it reads, "After dread suffering - have seen their lives pass off with smiles." This line exemplifies how one is at peace and with happiness once they are no longer in misery. Kscandale (talk) 21:06, September 15, 2012 (UTC)
  • In the preface, Whitman displays his patriotism as he portrays America as a free and diverse country unlike any other in the world. In the beginning he states that America is "[the greatest poem]" (pg. 493) due to the fact that "[it is] not merely a nation but a teaming of nations," (pg. 493) meaning that America has the potential to possess all the great qualities of other nations, or citizens, in one country. Whitman states throughout the preface that the common people are the “spirit” of America and continues to urge each individual to think for themselves, to develop their own opinions versus just accepting those which are learned through various institutions, since political and ideological freedom are major democratic ideals in the United States. This idea of free thought and speech is apparent in the “Song of the Universal” beginning on page 171 where Whitman makes it clear that it is more meaningful to learn through experience than it is to learn from books or teachers, farther developing his mention of this in the preface. In this poem Whitman extends his American freedoms by writing about this secular idea at a time when clergy held such control over the ideology of citizens and daily life. Aurora Butera September 15th, 2012
  • "....but the genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures..but always most in the common people. Their manners speech dress friendships- the freshness and candor of their physiognomy-" These lines in Whitmans preface show two themes found throughout his poetry. The idea and belief that the common people played a vital role in society. This is seen in the poem I Hear America Singing, ordinary people are viewed as the main citizens in society as well as given a lot of credit for their work. The tone when describing these individuals is very relaxing, "The day what belongs to the day- at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly," (Pg. 12) These common people are portrayed in a positive light showing you Whitman truly believed the middle class was extremely important. The final point shown in One's-Self I Sing is Whitmans obsession with the individual and their traits. "Not physiognomy alone nor brain is worthy for the Muse," He brings up a good point of how society has formed to become judgmental on individuals physical traits and characterizes many things off only one aspect of a person in that being the physical aspect instead of intellectual which is more important. Cali6 September 16, 2012 (UTC)Josh Callahan

Assigned poems, M 9/17 - M 9/24Edit

Poems we have assigned to our classmates.

These poems are assigned to be read in advance. You must post your selections by Saturday, Sept. 15. If you are the discussion leader for one of these days, list two short poems or sections of longer poems for your day. If you are not the discussion leader for any of these days, list one poem under a day of your choice. But it's important to distribute poems evenly: so choose a day with fewer poems listed already. If a day already has two poems suggested by non-discussion-leaders, don't add a third (unless every day already has two such poems). Use the following format for each poem you list (no description/analysis needed as above--just the title).

 * "Poem title" [indicate which section(s) of a longer poem] (pp. XXX-XXX) ~~~~

Check for duplicates before posting!

M 9/17Edit

  • "Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun" (Parts 1 and 2) (pp.235) Sarah Leffel September 14th. Sleffel (talk) 01:08, September 15, 2012 (UTC)
  • "A Hand Mirror"(pg.202) "Facing West from California's Shores" (pg.85) Lucy Miller September 15th.
  • "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer" (pp.204) Danny Winton September 15th

W 9/19Edit

  • "Last of Ebb, and Daylight Waning" (p. 378) Sabra Mwaura September 15, 2012
  • "Then Last of All" (p. 379) Sabra Mwaura September 15, 2012
  • "To One Shortly to Die" (p.334) Colleen Nugent September 15, 2012
  • "Death's Valley" (p.412) Colleen Nugent September 15, 2012
  • "To a Western Boy" pg. #102 - Kgork94, September 14, 2012====

F 9/21Edit

  • "To A Pupil" (p.292 ) Erica Jacobs September 15th, 2012.
  • "Here the Frailest Leaves of Me" (p. 100) and "A Leaf for Hand in Hand" (p. 100) Pastorec (talk) 17:16, September 15, 2012 (UTC)
  • "Miracles" (p. 290) Kscandale (talk) 00:51, September 21, 2012 (UTC)
  • "Darest Thou Now O Soul" (Pg. 328) Josh Callahan September 16th, 2012

M 9/24Edit

  • "Excelsior" page 353 Aurora Butera
  • "O Captain! My Captain!" (p.253) and "What Think You I Take My Pen in Hand?"(p.101) schroedb
  • "Children of Adam; Section 8" and "Calamus, In Paths Untrodden" Maya Whalen-Kipp MAWK 26 (talk) 17:50, September 15, 2012 (UTC)
  • "You Tides with Ceaseless Swell" (p.378) Alex Speak (talk) 19:48, September 15, 2012 (UTC)
  • "From My Last Years" & "In Former Songs" (p 530) Kate Kozain

Other stuffEdit

  • The On the Road page from a previous preceptorial is still of interest.
  • The Iliad and Simone Weil
    • Britannica biography of Simone Weil
    • "The Iliad, or the Poem of Force" is available via Moodle. This is your introduction to the Iliad as well.
    • Look over Albin Lesky's summary of the Iliad and keep it at hand for the big picture while you read the assigned Iliad passages for Fri. 2/4 (from Books 4, 6, 11) and Mon. 2/7 (from Books 16, 20-22, 24).
  • Playlist from introductory Sacred Harp presentation (Oct. 29), and Shape note singing page on this wiki with further information and resources. The word index to the 1991 Sacred Harp may be useful in exploring the treatment of death, etc.
    • Once you've used the word index to find, for example, 47b Idumea (that means "page 47 on the bottom, tune name = 'Idumea'"), you can then often find a YouTube video (searching Sacred Harp 47b, Sacred Harp Idumea, 47b Idumea, etc.) to get some impression of the musical setting of the poetry you've found. When YouTube fails, use this complete index of recordings.
    • Here is a whole First Year Seminar at another university organized around American folk music.