Thursday, May 17, 2012
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
I don’t have a song that particularly fires me up but Nowhere Man by the Beatles has always been one I’ve my favorite songs. I’ve listened to it since I was a kid and I’ve never really tired of it. My worst job experience had nothing to do with the actual job. In 2008 I was working for a family friend in construction, and helping him build and add on to his house out in the hills. That was the summer when there were a number of fires in northern California. I had to dig under his house to make a tunnel to hold cement that would make for a better foundation. It was stifling hot dirt was everywhere and smoke blanketed the county like a heavy fog. Under the house it was difficult to breathe as the combination of dirt and smoke and heat were filling my lungs. The work was better once I had finished under the house, but that was a truly awful experience. So after reading the two poems from What Work Is, as I’m not terribly familiar with Levine, I get the sense that the poet is processing outside experience through an individual; that experience becomes encapsulated in the poet persona of the poem, and doesn’t attempt to discharge into a greater collective conscience. For instance in “My Grave” the poet persona describes how after his death none of his physicality remains, “Not one nightmare/ is here, nor are my eyes which saw,” his physical state is mixed with those of his emotions, memories, and thoughts of loved ones, but they go with him and nothing really seems to remain for anyone else. The death has no greater sway on the fabric of reality or collective memory but instead is stored in box in some common area. Whitman on the other hand focuses the collective through the individual, I know we’ve been over this many times in class, but it keeps arising as a major difference between Whitman and his successors. As time passes the notion of the individual in American society changes ever so slightly. In his poetry Whitman, and in any number of his works, seems to be saying the individual is a key aspect of America in so far as he perpetuates the culture and his station as well as those around him or her. Levine takes in a approach that seems more individualistic. Instead of the individual’s experience in America, Levine illustrates the American experience on the individual.
Friday, April 20, 2012
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
I am not that sure how Whitman’s poetic strategy for collective loss may work but one aspect of it did stand out. Whitman presents the idea that sorrow and loss sink into the very land, “Over the breast of the spring, the land, amid cities,/ Amid lanes and through old woods, where lately the violets peep'd/ from the ground, spotting the gray debris.” The lilacs stretch out across all terrain and dot the nation with a feeling of loss. This idea was carried into at least one of the 9/11 poems, Billy Collins’ “The Names.” The names of the victims of the attack are etched into the very core and fabric of everything written across leaves, rocks, and stones or inked on skin. In Whitman’s poem however there is a sort of acceptance of death, “Come lovely and soothing death,/ Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving,” he presents death as many poets have, it is a thing of necessity that happens to all people. He laments the tragedy of Lincoln’s death and uses love, as lilacs are seen as a symbol of love, to cope with the feeling of lose. The nation loved Lincoln and mourned his passing and honored his memory, that is at least how Whitman saw it. But the 9/11 poetry comes out of a different feeling. There is no singular character to attach love to, as “The Names” describes in its listing of the dead there were many that were loved by others but collectively there is only a deep sense of loss; the feeling of which is now etched in our memory as described in Richard Howard’s “Fallacies of Wonder” “Did some three thousand die for us to call/ remembered towers, wonders, beautiful.” The poem brings into question the idea of representation of a feeling would any object association do the dead justice? Can we find something to represent the pain of loss as Whitman has done with his lilacs? No there are too many dead, too many individuals with different lives and memories attached, but still we are brought together as a nation by the deep sense of loss that we all share.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Now isn't that an adorable couple. I'm sure I'm not the only one to post this photo. I have discovered through extensive research that Peter Doyle was Walt Whitman's boyfriend, and therefore has a very direct relationship with the poet. Doyle was born in Ireland and came to America to take residence with his family in Alexandria, VA. Doyle worked as a blacksmith there and would have been very familiar with the type of labor Whitman praises in his poem. He was also a confederate, and his artillery company, the Artillery Fayette, was named after one of Whitman's heroes Marquis de Lafayette the revolutionary war hero. He was also present for the tragedy that would haunt Whitman's poetry, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
I think I would like to expand upon the flower blog I posted in a while. I would like to see if his inclination for flower anatomy continues. I would look at some of the other poems to see what's in them and maybe look at some pretty pictures of flowers. I'm not entirely sure.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
This is another visually descriptive passage from specimen days. You can tell Whitman appreciates just about everything in life. Man-made objects are in no way unequal to the natural in beauty. In this passage he makes it clear that the new ferry boat has, for the moment, out-shined nature with its brilliance. He is connecting the technological with the natural and melding them. He uses the imagery of clouds dressed in a, "golden profusion of beaming shaft and dazzle," in much the same way that the ferry is draped in, " flags, transparent red and blue, streaming out in the breeze." The comparison is a simple one but pleasant, and I don't think there are many that would argue that either would be an ugly sight to behold