A Brown University/Rhode Island School of Design Dual-Degree student (BRDD, 2017), artist, writer, scientist, and explorer of the world dedicated to finding Wondrous things. Art, design, science, literature and the connections between them. For my original artwork see http://arianamakesart.tumblr.com/
Posts tagged Walt Whitman
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars. Walt Whitman, lamenting a failure of scientific communication.
Walt Whitman Appreciation
This summer, I have made it my goal to read both the original and “death-bed” editions of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass in their entirety and to study them deeply. I have done this with only one Whitman poem (arguably Whitman’s most famous), “Song of Myself”. This sublime treatise details the power of Nature, of People, of the American Spirt, of Work, of Suffering, of Joy, and of the Self. It is written in plain, honest language and can be read and understood on different levels by all people. “Song of Myself” transcends history, class, and culture, and speaks on a level more universal and primeval than all of these. Although I have casually read many of the other poems in Leaves of Grass, “Song of Myself” has been the only one I’ve delved into and from which I’ve gained true understanding.
Last year, as part of a school assignment, I spent about two months with “Song of Myself”, taking it apart and putting it back together in the context of American history and Whitman’s personal narrative, and finally, in the context of my own life and understanding of the world. From that point on, Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” became, for me, a kind of sacred text. I gained and continue to gain from “Song of Myself” what people of faith gain from the holy books of their faiths: guidance, comfort, resolve, solace, mystery, visions of the past, present, future. I subscribe to no faith and do not mean to say I have become a disciple of sorts of Walt Whitman. I mean only to say that I know, from personal experience, that written words (even those which are not divinely inspired) have the power to transform and enrich one’s life.
Now I wish to expand that transformative experience. In reading the rest of Walt Whitman’s poems the way I read “Song of Myself”, I hope to know more intimately the language Walt Whitman spoke. I wish to understand the conversations Walt Whitman had with the Universe in its own tongue.
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul. Walt Whitman, “A Noiseless Patient Spider”, Leaves of Grass: “Death-bed” Edition