Category Archives: Poem in Your Pocket Day

And today’s “Poem in my Pocket” is…

Another Walt Whitman poem!

I decided to try and make a random choice of this year’s “Poem in My Pocket” selection by going to the web page http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/409 (where all the sample poems are arranged by topic) and closing my eyes and choosing.  Turns out I landed on another Walt Whitman poem!  Turns out Whitman has four of his poems among the 61 samples (more than any of the other poets whose poems are provided).

Walt Whitman, American poet (1819 – 1892)

A man ahead of his time I began to appreciate Walt Whitman in the past 10 years or so.  He seems to embody the vagabond spirit of the wandering poet at the same time realizing that he, himself, was standing at the precipice of a very changing world.  He recognized somehow that the emerging industrial age that he lived in would eventually change the course of the world as it had been known and what had been mostly farm and agrarian life.  He wrote about himself, the “I” and the “me” in a boisterous manner as if to somehow reclaim man’s solitary identity in the midst what was to be eventually the modern machine age (that we continue to live in today).  Whitman was perhaps the last of the Romantics, however I’m not sure he’s classifed anywhere that way.  Here is his poem I’ll print and carry with me today, “Poem in My Pocket” day.

 

As I Walk These Broad Majestic Days     

As I walk these broad majestic days of peace,

(For the war, the struggle of blood finish’d, wherein,

O terrific Ideal,

Against vast odds erewhile having gloriously won,

Now thou stridest on, yet perhaps in time toward denser wars,

Perhaps to engage in time in still more dreadful contests, dangers,

Longer campaigns and crises, labors beyond all others,)

Around me I hear that eclat of the world, politics, produce,

The announcements of recognized things, science,

The approved growth of cities and the spread of inventions.

I see the ships, (they will last a few years,)

The vast factories with their foremen and workmen,

And hear the indorsement of all, and do not object to it.

But I too announce solid things,

Science, ships, politics, cities, factories, are not nothing,

Like a grand procession to music of distant bugles pouring,

triumphantly moving, and grander heaving in sight,

They stand for realities—all is as it should be.

Then my realities;

What else is so real as mine?

Libertad and the divine average, freedom to every slave on the face

of the earth,

The rapt promises and luminé of seers, the spiritual world, these

centuries-lasting songs,

And our visions, the visions of poets, the most solid announcements

of any.

(published 1860, 1881)

Poem in Your Pocket Day — Thursday, April 26, 2012

        It sounds a bit corny perhaps, this idea of finding a poem, printing it or writing it up, putting it in your pocket and then carrying it around with you all day.  When I first heard of it two years ago, I thought it was just a one time occurrence.  Recently found out this is an annual event every April during National Poetry Month.

I did write about this event in an earlier blog here as I happened to feature the Walt Whitman poem that I’d chosen as my pocket poem two years ago.  For people who would like to commemorate this day and participate in their own way, there is a web page at: http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/406 that discusses Poem in Your Pocket Day and provides 61 sample poems to choose from.  These poems can be found by selecting the poem subject links provided.  For people who are more familiar with poetry, these 61 sample poems are also listed alphabetically by the poet’s name and his/her featured poem.

So if you’d like to feel close to poetry (literally), carrying around a poem in your pocket is one way to do so.  I like the idea of choosing a poem that you like and reading it throughout the day or maybe just one of two times, there are no rules with this.

After completing this blog I think i’m going to randomly select one of the 61 poems provided on the web page http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/409 by just pointing to one of the poems listed by subject (with my eyes closed) and see what poem manifests itself.   This way I won’t be limiting the poem selection to my own biases (for example, the poem is too long; it’s too brief; it’s about war; it’s about antiquity and I don’t understand what is referred to, etc. etc).   Here goes…

National Poetry Month — Who’s on First?

Walt Whitman

     Portrait: from an 1854 engraving by Samuel Hollyer  (from www.poets.org)

An American poet who was born on Long Island, New York in 1819 and died in Camden, NJ in 1892.  Whitman is an American original, and in my humble opinion, a man ahead of his time.  I didn’t appreciate him until recent years.

There are two verse sections from Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself” that I especially like.  These verse sections are 4 and 5.  This excerpt I ran across in an anthology compiled by Stephen Mitchell entitled “The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Spiritual Poetry.”  After looking some into Walt Whitman’s life, I learned that in the years June 1853 or June 1854 Walt Whitman experienced a spiritual awakening.  Written in 1855, it can be speculated that this awakening is captured in this poem “Song of Myself.”

For a good analysis of “Song of Myself” check out former U.S. Poet Laureate, Robert Haas, and his insight on this poem:  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125789927

Here I want to include the Whitman poem “A Noiseless Patient Spider.”  I ran across this poem when it was among those included in the Poem in Your Pocket day a couple of years ago.  This event takes place on one day during April’s National Poetry Month — this year’s POEM IN YOUR POCKET DAY is THURSDAY, APRIL 26, 2012.  For more information consult this web page:  http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/406

The year that I celebrated this event this is the poem I carried around with me for a few days:

A NOISELESS PATIENT SPIDER

A noiseless patient spider,

I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood, isolated,

Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,

It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself, 

Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my Soul where you stand, 

Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space, 

Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres

     to connect them,

Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor

     hold, 

Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my Soul.  

  

(written in the 1860s, this poem was first published in the 1871-72 edition of Leaves of Grass)