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
And our visions, the visions of poets, the most solid announcements
(published 1860, 1881)