Thursday, May 31, 2012

song of the open road


TO The States, or any one of them, or any city of The States, Resist much, obey little;
Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved;
Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, of this earth, ever afterward resumes its liberty.

Walt Whitman (31 may 1819-1892) poet, essayist, and humanist
"Caution" in Leaves of Grass



Thus in silence in dreams’ projections,
Returning, resuming, I thread my way through the hospitals,
The hurt and wounded I pacify with soothing hand,
I sit by the restless all the dark night, some are so young,
Some suffer so much, I recall the experience sweet and sad,
(Many a soldier’s loving arms about this neck have cross’d and rested,
Many a soldier’s kiss dwells on these bearded lips).

excerpted from "The Wound Dresser"  in the Leaves of Grass



to celebrate walt whitman's birthday i turned to my cache of photos and post two photos of walt's words that i've encountered on my wanders.

the first photo is of the sign that stands proudly in front  visible voice books - one of the few remaining independent bookstores remaining in town -- as walt whitman is a national treasure; visible voice books is a cleveland treasure.  

the second photo is of the entrance to the dupont circle metro station in washington dc - pretty far out to read walt's words emblazoned as one descends or ascends from the depths of the earth.



instead of a song, today i offer a reading of one of my favorite whitman poems,  song of the open road - (to hear the second half of this epic poem go here)





 in response to  steve's comment and question, i offer this addendum:

walt whitman lived in dc for 10 years (1863-1873) during that time he nursed wounded soldiers - whitman was a great opponent of slavery when he was living in new york he was most affected by the reports and photographs of injury and death to the union soldiers. he was also most worried about his brother george; george was serving as a union soldier. walt was so moved and worried, he decided to walk to washington from ny - he found his brother (who it turns out at the time he got there was okay) but whitman stayed on and cared for the wounded. i'm sure this is the backstory as to why this verse was chosen. a few years ago there was a wonderful exhibit at one of the smithsonian museums i attended on whitman's experiences and life in washington. if i find a link to this exhibit i will add an addendum to the addendum!

addendum to the addendum:

ah, the wonders of google.... the exhibit i remembered was at the smithsonian's portrait gallery july 2006-march 2007, to get started an on-line version of the exhibit, one life: walt whitman, a kosmos  click here

4 comments:

Steve Reed said...

I have never noticed that Whitman verse at the DuPont Circle metro stop. How have I missed that?! I wonder what made them choose that specific verse?

mouse (aka kimy) said...

walt whitman lived in dc for 10 years (1863-1873) during that time he nursed wounded soldiers - whitman was a great opponent of slavery and while living in new york he was most affected by the reports of injury and death to the union soldiers and was most worried about his brother george; george was enlisted as a union soldier. he was so moved and worried, he decided to walk to washington from ny - he found his brother (who was okay) but then whitman stayed on and cared for the wounded. i'm sure this is the backstory as to why that verse was chosen. - (wow, i got carried away, i should add this as an addendum to the post there may be other curious cats!)

Steve Reed said...

Interesting! I always think of Walt as a New York & New Jersey guy. Thanks for following up!

e said...

Great post...I hope you've been well, Kim.