Sometimes, it seems, I cannot escape the poetry of Walt Whitman. He is so expansive in his writing, exposing the secrets of the Universe that are laid out all around us. He takes the time, taps into his heart, and uses his acute senses.
I think that our senses are judged as acute when we make meaning from the input we receive from our world. In other words, others think that we are super observant, have a great sense of smell, touch, taste, or hearing based on how we respond and assign meaning to those stimuli. Walt thirsts (I didn’t mean that to be a sensory pun!) for his truth, which is to convey the essence of America. It’s a country whose very basis requires an awakening to heart and core Self in order to fully participate in the spirit of its foundational truths. Walt communicates that through his masterful interpretation of sensory images.
Any poet, any great poet, understands the significance of sound in communicating the snapshots of emotion or story. Meaningless sound, like in trifling rhyming poems, are like an annoying droning to me. However, well-employed patterns of sound, the words, their phonemes, and how those work together to help communicate the message, that is a sensitive understanding poet.
And the same is true of musicians. God, how I love music. If I truly had a choice, I think that I would choose to be a vocalist and play instruments. Music moves my soul deeply, in so many directions. What power! The same is true of masters of words, though, spoken or written. Even as I write this, I’m listening to a YouTube musician, Adrian von Ziegler. Un-freaking-believable talent because he taps into those energies of life that I write about. In fact, I wrote my whole first novel, The Fellowship of the Heart, while listening to three different twenty-minute compositions of his.
Returning to the creative genius of Walt Whitman, I will limit myself. Why start now? Because Walt’s work is filled with sound imagery, containing 28 out of 383 poems that have song, sing, or chant in the titles — at least based on a quick count. So, I will start with the first one, which is also the very first poem in his epic work, Leaves of Grass. The poem is “One’s Self I Sing:” (All quotes from Leaves of Grass: 1855 and 1891–92 Editions. John Hollander, editor).
ONE’S-SELF I sing, a simple separate person,
You utter the word Democratic, the word En-Masse.
Of physiology from top to toe I sing,
Nor physiognomy alone nor brain alone is worth for the Muse, I say the Form complete is worthier far,
The Female equally with the Male I sing.
Of Life immense in passion, pulse, and power,
Cheerful, for freest action form’d under the laws divine,
The Modern Man I sing.
Look at the sound words (ironic, isn’t it?!): the alliteration/consonance in the very first line creates a song — self, sing, simple, separate, per-son. Repetition in the second line: “the word.” The alliteration in the first line of the third stanza: passion, pulse, power. I could go on, but the point is that Walt sets up a song in a poem about singing, and we remember songs.
He sings, in poetry, a song about the value of democracy in America, a value that can only truly be realized by the I, the individual, but the benefit of it is known in power when those I’s can coexist in their own truth.
How? Through the sorts of ideas that I have been sharing for a long time now, but, specifically here in these posts for the last 157 days. When we awaken to our hearts, discover core Self, and create a life purpose consistent with that self, the result is a healthy, expressed love for Self and for the world in which Self functions. This is what we need now — not politics, not a social stance that creates animosity, not stubborn inflexibility, but living personal truth that spreads love to others.
Yes, Democracy, One’s-Self, En-Masse — these three words alone capture that very thought! And then Walt goes on to say that the whole person, “the Form complete,” is necessary to consider for his poetic inspiration, and no sexism with Walt — “the Female equally with the Male, I sing.” Then, I note the third stanza’s alliteration that brings together this idea of heart, purpose, and vibrational energies of life: “passion, pulse, and power” that produces a cheerful heart and song of “Modern Man” (all-inclusive man and woman!) functioning in “freest action.”
May I just leave you with a few questions (that’s one!)? Do you know yourself so well that you could sing a song about You? Have you discovered your Heart and core Self so that you know how to express love for Self and the world? Can you feel those vibrational energies that result from that wonderful You? Are you a Modern Man — or Woman — that Walt was singing about?
Hear yourself; sing yourself — what a lovely song you are!
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Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!