Set 12, 2015

Whitmen

Hello Whitmanians (and anti-Whitmanians?)  let's see how far Walt's influence extends. Maybe we'll find surprising connections along the way. We know that Emerson greeted him as he would the sun. Ginsberg gave him a (bit?) role in one of our poems for the week. He's even said to be Bram Stoker's model for Count Dracula.

There must be many others. Gerard Manley Hopkins, for one: "I always knew in my heart Whitman's mind to be more like my own than any man's living. As he is a very great scoundrel, this is not a pleasant confession."



Hope you'll add to this collection, and maybe re-read some WW lines along the way.



Thanks very much. Read this before but had long forgotten about it, which is good because it seems so fresh now after rounds of ModPo. Entranced with "pig-headed father" for some reason, having in it the image of a son leaving farm roots to make a name for himself ("carving") in the city. That done, he's making "commerce"—something which promises reunion but maintains distance.

The "pig-headed" part recalls lines from Whitman's "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry"—

It is not you alone who know what it is to be evil;  
I am he who knew what it was to be evil;  
I too knitted the old knot of contrariety,  
Blabb’d, blush’d, resented, lied, stole, grudg’d,  
Had guile, anger, lust, hot wishes I dared not speak,  
Was wayward, vain, greedy, shallow, sly, cowardly, malignant;  
The wolf, the snake, the hog, not wanting in me,



Here's a bit more of the letters themselves. Apparently there's been some poetry and fiction using this material.




Hi, and thanks for this question. I've done some reading (but it seems "some reading" won't ever be enough to cover even an aspect of a poet like Pound), and so far, I believe that the "condensed" parts of Pound's writing, his involvement with imagism (as opposed to later vorticism, his epic poetry, the Cantos) was influenced by Asian forms. For example, much has been said about the haiku-like quality (as well as wild innovation) of poems such as his "In a Station of the Metro". I haven't read him acknowledging ED.

For now, I'm following some dates. Imagism was being created at around 1911-1912. Pound would produce essays regarding its principles 1913. The anthology Des Imagistes (perhaps the more proper coming out of Imagism as a collective / collected effort) would see light as a standalone by 1914.

What was the ED available at this time? ED's first collection would have been available since 1890, 20 years prior to Pound's essays on imagism. However, let's note that the only ED available back then were heavily edited: "The two editors made changes to the poems, regularizing punctuation, adding occasional titles, and sometimes altering words to improve rhyme or sense." It seems ED would only truly "dazzle"— assuming the form we see her poems now, her fascicles treated as final intent rather than drafts—in the 1955 collection.

1955 would see Pound detained in a psychiatric hospital after charges of treason during the war, some 17 years remaining in his life. ED was available to him, but if he owed her anything he was not as loud about it as he was with the Whitman "parentage".

Will be scouring the annotations to the Pisan Cantos next week and will be sure to return here if I find any ED-EP connection.



I don't feel the antagonism myself. But I think it's possible to encounter these two and see them warring inside you. I think it's in the way a reader or writer absorbs the two. You could devote yourself fully to one, perhaps becoming critical of other paths (ex: Whitman's too wild or Dickinson's too solipsistic, etc) or you could nurture both in your use of literature, which is in keeping also with some things we found in both (Whitman's open to contradicting himself, Dickinson's keen on swerving from the groove).




Yes "apparition" is such a tricky part of this. I'm sure others would argue how essential it is to the lines, but it also pushed me to think about the imagist call for the "exact word" especially if the phenomenon is itself inexact, too fleeting that it seems an "exact word" would somehow violate it. The haiku seems to me not only a form but also a state of mind. Do you think Pound's lines amounted to a failed attempt at a (new?) haiku?



Eel soup! Found Dharker's tantalizing poem, and it engages (interrogates?) this age old quest for Flaubert's le mot juste.



Agreed. It moves along with the moment, all that anxiety, perhaps alarm, maybe also a sense of promise, and she's shuffling with words, finding one that fits, one that will ultimately decide her next course of action: flee or fight or receive.




(Digression, sorry, but I love how cutting it as a usual haiku makes "petals" sound like a verb.)





"I think there was a better poem to be written." You may be right. It seems to me that if EP was to make a choice between poem+prose and poem-as-is, he'd take the longer version. He'll discard imagism for vorticism, his hokku yileding to (or absorbed into) the Cantos.

Anyway, it's important to add that even the root of the haiku tradition includes a haiku-prose variety called the haibun by Matsuo Bashō.



Apparition becomes a sort of fleeting appearance if we remove the supernatural. Should we remove though?



Joy. I'm taking that for you the poem was breathing fresh air into the transit scene?





How two lines could overflow as sound, image, meaning.




I'll direct you to a list like this if I see one. Or please, if you make one, tell me and I'll subscribe immediately. I'm afraid I'm only familiar with the Dickinsonians in the syllabus: Armantrout, Niedecker, Corman. I'm sure others will come up for me if I "read outwards" but it seems that when I'm dealing with Dickinson and her heirs, my tendency is to look deeply into their work rather than pick up on things and links that throw me off the groove (very un-ED of me, now that I think of it).




His soil rich under both Pound's Cantos and Neruda's Canto General.






From this Twain letter: "You shall see marvels upon marvels added to these whose nativity you have witnessed; & conspicuous above them you shall see their formidable Result — Man at almost his full stature at last! — & still growing, visibly growing while you look." 

How very difficult it is for me (and it seems, for Ginsberg) to share this optimism. Still, how very infectious and "true" the way they sound it.




Seems "father and son" had different Americas. I wonder about the relation though: could Ginsberg's America be the betrayal of its predecessor's hopes? or, could Whitman's America be the cause of the next America's despair? Did Ginsberg omit this discussion? Did he submerge it in the river Lethe?



He's projecting his loneliness then, seeing a national malaise?










Following you above, I think Ginsberg's conjuring WW as Dante did Virgil, making a guide out of his idol but at the same time making sure that the idol's less capable than he is (Virgil could not go beyond to Paradise because his limits lay in reason, neither baptized nor equipped to receive grace, whereas WW was out of touch, maybe out of kilter in a newer, less invigorated America).






And how very different the ground of Ginsberg and that of Whitman. Ginsberg's shoes on a tiled floor, the produce and the cattle etc sorted or packed for easy, thoughtless consumption. Thanks.



What do you think Ginsberg was trying to achieve by asking a forgetful (though not forgotten) graybeard?









Not overboard, no! I think this is all about that brand of bizarre. That's as direct a link as a poet would claim of another. And it's in keeping with the conceit of "Song of Myself": what I assume, you shall assume. And here's Ginsberg assuming Whitman, soul and all.




Would Whitman have loved such a boom as you described? I imagine Sandburg at home with with smoke and steel. But I wonder about Whitman, the limits of his inclusiveness, his idea of democracy.




Ginsberg apparently carries a less affirmative view of the banks compared to Whitman. Where WW found life, industry, and democracy, Ginsberg saw death, alienation, and democracy. The death too of WW, therefore: as man and a savage set of poetics.




"in the parking lot, waiting for you." That's a killer, and there were about two couplets there, one I loved:

              self. That common moment, unguarded,  
              skin to skin, why didn’t it make us change?  






Same goes for me. Thanks for the Reines. Clicked your links and, yes! You're right. If there's only a way to subscribe to your exclamation points, I'd click that as well.



Another acknowledged Whitmanian is Muriel Rukeyser. Fond of how she takes poetry to dark places. This leads to a sample

       :  Take my hand.          Fist my mind in your hand.          What are you now?



Just discovered she's in ModPoPlus! Have also (just) begun compiling my postModPo destinations. ModPoPlus, the teaching forum, Rukeyser, and Reines are all in the bag.





Happy when this happens to me. It means I'm still alive and connected, and that I (yet) have freedom to change my mind, legroom for exploration.



From Mark Strand:

“Through you I shall be born again; myself again and again; myself without others; myself with a tomb; myself beyond death. I imagine you taking my name; I imagine you saying 'myself myself' again and again. And suddenly there will be no blue sky or sun or shape of anything without that simple utterance.”

Who deserves his place in this thread too if we believe Gregerson calling him one of Whitman's “most astute heirs and readers.” Farewell, Mark Strand.