Thursday, December 06, 2007

Poet of the Month

December's Featured Poet
Walt Whitman (1819-1892), was a mystic and upbeat pitchman for the unfolding of the United States as a Great Poem. He was, like the nation itself, nearly broken by the loss of life, human suffering, and the devastation of families resulting from our Civil War. He exhausted himself visiting the sick and dying in D.C. area field hospitals — as described in the “Drum-Taps” section of Leaves of Grass, from which this comes:

By the Bivouac's Fitful Flame
By the bivouac's fitful flame,
A procession winding around me, solemn and sweet and
slow — but first I note,
The tents of the sleeping army, the fields' and the woods'
dim outline,
The darkness lit by spots of kindled fire, the silence,
Like a phantom far or near an occasional figure moving,
The shrubs and trees (as I lift my eyes they seem to be
stealthily watching me),
While wind in procession thoughts, O tender and wondrous
Of life and death, of home and the past and loved, and of
those that are far away;
A solemn and slow procession there as I sit on the ground,
By the bivouac's fitful flame.
Further Reading: Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass; James E. Miller Jr., A Critical Guide to Leaves of Grass, Francis Murphy (Ed.), The complete poems / Walt Whitman.

Coming in January: Elizabeth Bishop

Content developed by local resident and poet Leland Jamieson