Wandering With Him

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

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3 Responses to Wandering With Him

  1. Dana Thieringer says:

    I like what you said about all cities belonging to Whitman, and of him singing to them and to us of our existence. This is something that at first makes me a tad jealous of Whitman–this ability to feel such a clear access to all parts of the world. I think it has a lot to do with discovery, even in its mildest sense. Just follow your footsteps around a town and you will see or feel something that will make it your own, make it a private city for you. People may be more comfortable in a place than you are, but nothing is off limits. These small, new discoveries will, as you said, sing to us of our existence.

  2. Jared S. says:

    I had an interesting moment today reading the assignment, especially Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, where I thought over and over of Frank O’Hara. It’s that strong sense of place, both a loss of identity and a gaining of one. And the energy!

    In a similar vein to the Berrigan poem you included, I’d have you read O’Hara’s “Steps.” I know I’ve mentioned it to you in the past. Here’s a link: https://people.creighton.edu/~mlm22940/writings/ohara/steps.html

    • Peter Galle says:

      What a Wonderful Poem. I really am falling in love with him. I wish we had video of him reading it.

      “It’s that strong sense of place, both a loss of identity and a gaining of one.” I really feel that in these poems now that you have pointed that out. Really nice.

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