Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Whitman (again?)

It's interesting to see that I posted about Whitman the other night--wasn't even thinking about how in one of the courses I'm teaching Whitman is the first poet on the syllabus--first thing we're reading is "Song of Myself" from both the 1855 edition and then the 1891/92 deathbed edition of Leaves of Grass. As always I stand in amazement at the rhythm and movement of the poem, both in terms of the form and the content (this I that is so powerful and is both about description and place and time, and out of place and time, which is the point of the Whitman I, to be both in and out of location of self, other, etc). The juxtapositions (the pimpled prostitute and the president), the use of names (places, plants and trees, tribes, etc), the repetitions of phrase and structures to move the poem along, what a pleasure.

And to see words like pismire and kelson!

In other news: because of the Tobenski/Algera series tomorrow night (tobenskialgera.com), will miss the State of the Union, something I haven't done in years. The president will use the word fight a lot and he will talk about the need to listen and be thoughtful and in all of it I fear will come a further deflation of hope--that he will listen and be thoughtful and in the spirit of compromise (the new nickname for leadership, how thoughtless and passive) that the fight will be to advance an agenda that is not bold and not progressive and, finally, ineffective.

I don't like feeling that after a only a year the president has missed some big opportunities to be bold and decisive and that he has made the good elusive , but this is what I worry about. Still, I refuse to give up on hope. I see the power of it in small ways in my life and if that's what I've got, well it could be worse, even while longing for better and better on a larger scale.



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