I read and read aloud when I read Whitman. I am looking for something when I am not in his words. Today, after the post of Creeley, I read Whitman in that man’s words. I liked the sound of his voice. It seemed as though he was near crying.
Today in the mail I received three books from a dead poet Amon Liner. “Rose, a color of darkness” a book written but published after death. I hear him as I hear Whitman: bright, addressing, and, like Whitman’s strongest moments, I am touched and effusive with longing.
“Flood-tide below me! I see you face to face!”
In the water looking at Whitman I rejoice as he speaks to me. To us he speaks. To my loneliness he speaks. Such a tall, far-reaching father that here, in my bedroom, near the ocean, I hear him and he hears me.
And Liner, in his most touching moments, calls myself to me in characters that I never knew as myself and he hears me.
As Berrigan says in “Whitman in Black”, the city of New York is Whitman’s city. The same city where “The Bridge” by which Crane builds his American vision to Whitman rises. I feel as though all cities are belonging to Whitman and to each he sings of their existence. To each of us he sings to our existence.
These moments are on me and the grandest poets of our country own me and the lives they lived and the visions they have given are in me. My honoring of their vision is reciprocated in their honoring of my unique person they call to in each direct address. Whitman’s fervent voice to the American, to the human being, finds mark in me. Each day I live them as I read.
Below is a video of Ted Berrigan, part of the the second school of New York Poets (the first most notably including Frank O’Hara), reading “Whitman in Black”. The last words are “after a fashion”. They are cut off in the video.Whitman in Black by Ted Berrigan