As part of “April Poetry Month”, I decided to read Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”. It was also penance to a friend when I complained that I hated poetry.
The book is very good, but I found my attention often wandering. I would have to re-read sections over and over again, and even then I wasn’t sure if I understood what the author was trying to get at. I often didn’t think I “got it right”.
However, I really empathize with Whitman’s homosexual humanism. Let’s face it: the guy liked rough trade. His rhapsody of the working man is a sublimated expression of his desire to shag them. And I can relate. Here are some stanzi I liked:
“The boatmen and clamdiggers arose early and stopped for me,
I tucked my trowser-ends in my boots and went and had a good time,
You should have been with us that day round the showder-kettle.”
“Blacksmiths with grimed and hairy chests environ the anvil,
Each has his main-sledge… they are all out… there is a great heat in the fire.
From the cinder-strewed threshold I follow their movements,
The lithe sheer of their waists plays even with their massive arms,
Overhand the hammers roll – overhand so slow – overhand so sure,
They do not hasten, each man hits in his place.”
“Through me forbidden voices,
Voices of sexes and lusts… voices veiled, and I remove the veil,
Voices indecent by me clarified and transfigured.
I do not press my finger across my mouth,
I keep as delicate around the bowels as around the head and heart,
Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.
I believe in the flesh and appetites,
Seeing hearing and feeling are miracles, and each part and ag of me is a miracle.
Divine I am inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am touched from;
The scent of these arm-pits is aroma finer than prayer,
This head is more than churches or bibles or creeds.”
“Do I contradict myself?
Very well then… I contradict myself;
I am large… I contain multitudes.”
Now I realize while Bill gave Monica a copy of this book!