29 June 2011

Song of myself, 8

My children have me thinking about Whitman. Love how he makes this work, how he gets to 'The suicide sprawls' and manages to maintain the balance. Golf clap: I rejoice with you, Walt.
8

The little one sleeps in its cradle;
I lift the gauze, and look a long time, and silently brush away flies with my hand.

The youngster and the red-faced girl turn aside up the bushy hill;
I peeringly view them from the top.

The suicide sprawls on the bloody floor of the bed-room;
I witness the corpse with its dabbled hair—I note where the pistol has fallen.

The blab of the pave, the tires of carts, sluff of boot-soles, talk of the promenaders;
The heavy omnibus, the driver with his interrogating thumb, the clank of the shod horses on the granite floor;
The snow-sleighs, the clinking, shouted jokes, pelts of snowballs;
The hurrahs for popular favorites, the fury of rous’d mobs;
The flap of the curtain’d litter, a sick man inside, borne to the hospital;
The meeting of enemies, the sudden oath, the blows and fall;
The excited crowd, the policeman with his star, quickly working his passage to the centre of the crowd;
The impassive stones that receive and return so many echoes;
What groans of over-fed or half-starv’d who fall sun-struck, or in fits;
What exclamations of women taken suddenly, who hurry home and give birth to babes;
What living and buried speech is always vibrating here—what howls restrain’d by decorum;
Arrests of criminals, slights, adulterous offers made, acceptances, rejections with convex lips;
I mind them or the show or resonance of them—I come, and I depart.
If you, like me, are interested in how Leaves of Grass changed over the years, note how Walt edited this line in deathbed version:
The blab of the pave, tires of carts, sluff of boot-soles, talk of the promenaders
Interesting that he needed to get rid of that 'the'. I want to get an MA in Leaves of Grass Comparative Studies. This degree should exist if it doesn't already...
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