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Happy Birthday Walt Whitman Song of Myself Civil War Poetry May 31, 1819 West Hills Long Island.

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Presentation on theme: "Happy Birthday Walt Whitman Song of Myself Civil War Poetry May 31, 1819 West Hills Long Island."— Presentation transcript:

1 Happy Birthday Walt Whitman Song of Myself Civil War Poetry May 31, 1819 West Hills Long Island

2 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 live, 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… Leaves of Grass (1855)

3 Key Techniques 0 Unrhymed / irregular meter (free verse) 0 Chant / rant / spoken rhythms 0 Anaphora 0 Vignettes 0 Lists Self Nation Poetry

4 I celebrate myself And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belong to me as good belongs to you. I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease…observing a spear of summer grass Houses and rooms are full of perfumes….the shelves are crowded with perfumes I breathe the fragrance myself, and know it and like it. The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it. The atmosphere is not a perfume….it has no taste of the distillation….it is odorless, It is for my mouth….I am in love with it, I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked, I am mad for it to be in contact with me

5 A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child?....I do not know what is is any more than he. I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven. Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic, And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones Growing among black folks as among white, Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same.

6 Houses and rooms are full of perfumes….the shelves are crowded with perfumes I breathe the fragrance myself, and know it and like it. The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it. The atmosphere is not a perfume….it has no taste of the distillation….it is odorless, It is for my mouth….I am in love with it, I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked, I am mad for it to be in contact with me

7 The runaway slave came to my house and stopped outside, I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the woodpile, Through the swung half-door of the kitchen I saw him limpsey and weak, And went where he sat on a log, and led him in and assured him, And brought water and filled a tub for his sweated body and bruised feet, And gave him a room that entered from my own, and gave him some coarse clean clothes, And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes and his awkwardness, And remember putting plasters on the galls of his neck and ankles; He staid with me a week before he was recuperated and passed north, I had him sit next me at table….my firelock leaned in the corner

8 Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore, Twenty-eight young men, and all so friendly, Twenty-eight years of womanly life, and all so lonesome. She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank, She hides handsome and richly drest aft the blinds of the window. Which of the young men does she like the best? Ah the homeliest of them is beautiful to her. Where are you off to, lady? For I see you, You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room. Dancing and laughing along the beach came the twenty- ninth bather, The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved them. The beards of the young men glistened with wet, it ran from their long hair, Little streams passed all over their bodies An unseen hand also passed over their bodies, It descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs

9 I am the poet of the body, And I am the poet of the soul. I am the poet of the body, And I am the poet of the soul. Walt Whitman, an American one of the roughs, a kosmos, Disorderly fleshy and sensual….eating drinking and breeding No sentimentalist….not stander above men and women or apart from them….no more modest than immodest. Walt Whitman, an American one of the roughs, a kosmos, Disorderly fleshy and sensual….eating drinking and breeding No sentimentalist….not stander above men and women or apart from them….no more modest than immodest. I speak the password primeval….I give the sign of democracy; By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of on the same terms. I speak the password primeval….I give the sign of democracy; By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of on the same terms. Divine I am inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am touched from; The scent of these arm-pits is aroma finer than prayer, This head is more than churches or bibles or creeds. Divine I am inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am touched from; The scent of these arm-pits is aroma finer than prayer, This head is more than churches or bibles or creeds.

10 Do I contradict myself? Very well then….I contradict myself; I am large….I contain multitudes. I concentrate toward them that are nigh….I wait on the door-slab. Who has done his days work and will soonest be through with his supper? Who wishes to walk with me? Will you speak before I am gone? Will you prove already too late? The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me….he complains of my gab and my loitering. I too am not a bit tamed….I too am untranslatable, I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

11 Mesmerism/Spiri tualism Womens Movement Swedenborgianism Fourierism Slavery Western Expansion Transcendentalism Hucksterism and Celebrity Culture Carpenter / Manual Laborer Printer / Journalist Volunteer Nurse Free Love Mid-19 th Century Political Corruption and Incompetence Teacher New York Roughs Phrenology Pre-Darwinian evolutionary and geological science Pfaffs Bohemians Performance Culture Theater Oratory Music Harmonialism Market Capitalism Technological Change Technological Change Visual Arts Urbanization Photography Landscape and Genre Painting Cultural Expositions

12 Timeline : Mexican Cession/ Seneca Falls Convention : Gold Rush/ Asiatic Cholera Epidemic : Compromise of 1850/ Hawthornes Scarlet Letter : Melvilles Moby Dick : Harriet Beecher Stowes Uncle Toms Cabin : Crystal Palace Art and Industry Exposition opens in New York : Kansas / Nebraska Act, Fugitive Slave Anthony Burns captured in North and returned to slavery in South / Walden Brooklyns population hits 500,000 / Whitman first publishes Leaves of Grass : Bloody Kansas / Charles Sumner beaten by Preston J. Brooks of South Carolina : Dred Scott – no black citizenship and Missouri Compromise unconstitutional : Lincoln Douglass Debates : John Brown takes Harpers Ferry and is captured and hanged / first U.S. oil strike in Pennsylvania Lincoln elected president / 11 states secede and form confederacy / firing on Fort Sumter / Battle of Bull Run

13 Open Letter to Emerson 1856 Always America will be agitated and turbulent. This day it is taking shape, not to be less so, but to be more so, stormily, capriciously, on native principles, with such vast proportions of parts! As for me, I love screaming, wrestling, boiling-hot days.

14 Beat! Beat! Drums! Beat! beat! drums! ---blow! bugles! blow! Make no parelystop for no expostulation, Mind not the timid---mind not the weeper or prayer, Mind not the old man beseeching the young man, Let not the childs voice be heard, nor the mothers entreaties, Make even the trestles to shake the dead where they lie awaiting the hearses So strong you thump O terrible drumsso loud you bugles blow.

15 The Wound Dresser (Section 3) On, on I go, (open doors of time! Open hospital doors!) The crushd head I dress, (poor crazed hand tear not the bandage away,) The neck of the cavalry-man with the bullet through and through I examine, Hard the breathing rattles, quite glazed already the eye, yet life struggles hard, (Come sweet death! be persuaded O beautiful death! In mercy come quickly.) From the stump of the arm, the amputated hand, I undo the clotted lint, remove the slough, wash off the matter and blood, Back on his pillow the solder bends with curvd neck and side-falling head, His eyes are closed, his face is pale, he dares not look on the bloody stump, And has not yet lookd on it.

16 The Wound Dresser (Section 3 continued) I dress a wound in the side, deep, deep, But a day or two more, for see the frame all wasted and sinking, And the yellow-blue countenance see. I dress the perforated shoulder, the foot with the bullet- wound, Cleanse the one with a gnawing and putrid gangrene, so sickening, so offensive, While the attendant stands behind aside me holding the tray and pail. I am faithful, I do not give out, The fracturd thigh, the knee, the wound in the abdomen, These and more I dress with impassive hand, (yet deep in my breast a fire, a burning flame)

17 Come Up From the Fields Father Come up from the fields father, heres a letter from our Pete, And come to the front door mother, heres a letter from thy dear son. Lo, tis autumn Lo, where the trees, deeper green, yellower and redder, Cool and sweeten Ohios villages with leaves fluttering in the moderate wind, Where apples ripe in the orchards hang and grapes on the trellisd vines, (Smell you the smell of the grapes on the vines? Smell you the buckwheat where the bees were lately buzzing?) Down in the fields all prospers well, But now from the fields come father, come at daughters call And come to the entry mother, to the front door come right away.

18 Reconciliation Word over all, beautiful as the sky, Beautiful that war and all its deeds of carnage must in time be utterly lost, That the hands of the sisters Death and Night incessantly softly wash again, and ever again, this soild world; For my enemy is dead, a man divine as myself is dead, I look where he lies white-faced and still in the coffinI draw near, Bend down and touch lightly with my lips the white face in the coffin.

19 Over the Carnage Rose Prophetic a Voice Over the carnage rose prophetic a voice, Be not disheartend, affection shall solve the problems of freedom yet, Those who love each other shall become invincible, They shall yet make Columbia victorious. Sons of the Mother of All, you shall yet be victorious, You shall yet laugh to scorn the attacks of all the remainder of the earth. No danger shall balk Columbias lovers, If need be a thousand shall sternly immolate themselves for o one. One from Massachusetts shall be a Missourians comrade, From Maine, and from hot Carolina, and another an Oregonese, shall be friends triune, More precious to each other than all the riches of the earth

20 Over the Carnage Rose Prophetic a Voice (continued) To Michigan, Florida perfumes shall tenderly come, Not the perfumes of flowers, but sweeter, and wafted beyond death. It shall be customary in the houses and streets to see manly affection, The most dauntless and rude shall touch face to face lightly, The dependence of Liberty shall be lovers, The continuance of Equality shall be comrades. These shall tie you and band you stronger than hoops of iron, I ecstatic, O partners! O lands! With the love of lovers tie you. (Were you looking to be held together by lawyers? Or by an agreement on a paper? or by arms? Nay, nor the world, nor any living thing, will so cohere.)

21 Further Exploration Reynolds, David. Walt Whitman. Oxford University Press, Miller, Matt. Collage of Myself: Walt Whitman and the Making of Leaves of Grass. University of Nebraska, 2010.


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