July 24, 2007


I'm feeling rather open, expansive, and generous tonight for some reason. Just in a nice mood I guess, and you know what that means .... yep, some more Whitman (never let it be said that I am full of surprises)

This is the meal quickly set, this the meat for natural hunger,
It is for the wicked just the same as the righteous, I make appointments with all,
I will not have a single person slighted or left away,
The kept-woman, sponger, thief, are hereby invited,
The heavy-lipp'd slave is invited, the venerealee is invited;
There shall be no difference between them and the rest.

The is the press of a bashful hand, this the float and odor of hair,
This the touch of my lips to yours, this the murmur of yearning,
This the far-off depth and height reflecting my own face,
This the thoughtful merge of myself, and the outlet again.

Do you guess I have some intricate purpose?
Well I have, for the fourth-month showers have, and the mica on the side of a rock has.

Do you take it I would astonish?
Does the daylight astonish? does the early redstart twittering through the woods?
Do I astonish more than they?

This hour I tell things in confidence,
I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you.

by the way, it took me a minute, and then I double-checked. "venerealee" does mean what you think it should mean.


Anonymous said...

Does it really?! And how can you read my thoughts? ;)


ASM said...

That's a great passage. One of the elements of Whitman that I've always found most provocative is that he achieves his open, expansive stride through the voice and tone of a prophet, a voice that is by definition distanced from the masses through privileged sensitivity to the divine. His openness encompasses everything, but there's also an ever-present loneliness in his voice that is just as compelling as his infinite breadth: he is expansive and achingly singular, the paradoxical tension that sustains his poems. Thanks for starting my day with Whitman. He's better than coffee.

Since you’re someone interested in musical matters, you might find it interesting that his prophetic voice is tightly linked to rhythm. In elongating his lines, Whitman is able to channel the metrical pattern that distinguishes the King James Bible (a fact that is probably obvious to the naked ear, even without the numbers).

reviewstew said...

Imogene, perhaps I made the mistake of thinking that everyone's mind is the same open book that mine is?

and ASM, I couldn't agree more. That's the magic of Whitman - the personal and the universal are all bound up with each other.

This rhythm thing is new to me, though. I know his rhythmic eccentricities and intricacies well, but never though for a moment to compare them to the bible (nor have I ever thought of the bible as having a unique style of prosody, though I guess it must). Thanks for the food for thought!