We looked at the following poem in my process class a few weeks ago, and re-reading it I couldn’t help but see a lot of Whitman in it.
What Is So Amazing
is not so much what is beneath
the house— matter and dirt—
nor what is outside it— surges of
light— space that has no end—
but how it all seems ever to
be renewed by something
unerasable— an energy
that drapes itself over everything
like translucent film so that
what was shabby what was
perishable yesterday today takes in
oxygen makes an exchange
with the world in that deep place
where for lack of more clarity
I’ll say matter becomes consciousness.
Those other questions creation
death free will etc—
let’s continue to defer let them
simply be unresolvable. What’s
so amazing is this apparently
unstoppable commerce— that the
surfaces of all objects— animate
inanimate— and of all minds quaver
continuously like water— reshaping
themselves into the same body— the
world— a candescent breathing
whose skin is like a living because.
This poem is by Gail Wronsky.
I think what we talked about last class relating to Bruchac’s take on Whitman’s bond with native Americans, is also present in this poem. Bruchac identifies Whitman’s “celebration of the Earth and natural things,” a link with eastern thought, and qualities of wonder and appreciation towards nature. All of these elements seem to be the driving forces of this poem. The imagery throughout and especially the “continuous like water” line are very eastern. The poet seems to have accessed this same vein that Bruchac claims to be the primary connection between Whitman and Native American poets. I would also definitely argue for Neruda and Lorca also being of this poetic vein, along with many of my favorite contemporary poets.
Throughout this course I have been drawn towards reading contemporary poetic reactions to Whitman as lamenting the loss of hope and optimism, as this is largely my personal relation to Whitman. This seems especially difficult after modernism, and industrialization, as we see Ginsberg use Whitman in this way also. Still this poem seems to channel Whitman in a still beautiful way, making his message seem just as alive today. She also finds this optimism in a very Whitmanian fashion.
I’m not sure I would map out this poem as having a definite crisis and recovery. It is about being comfortable with and even embracing uncertainty, and still not being able to resist being in complete wonder over the world, nature, and yourself.
It is very Romantic (reminds me of Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn), and also very Whitmanian.