Walt’s Leaves

The lawn at the Palatial Horvath Estate has really enjoyed the rainy, warm, and humid weather we’ve been having lately. Over the past week the grass rose defiantly, screaming its supremacy, cackling madly and singing “Feed me, Seymour, feed me all night long.” As I walked down the path to my car, I could see dandelions and buckthorn grass giving me the finger.

So I mowed it.

Ain’t no wisecracking lawn getting the upper hand on MY estate.

Mowing the lawn has, of course, made me think of Leaves of Grass, a collection of poems by Walt Whitman. Hey, here’s a little English Major trivia for you. Did you know that the “leaves” in the title Leaves of Grass refer to a “leaf” in printing as opposed to a leaf in, well, leaves? A “leaf” is one of a number of folds (each containing two pages) which comprise a book or manuscript. Whitman worked as a printer and typesetter, hence his use of the term.

Here are a few random poems from this great collection for your enjoyment.  They are all, of course, by Walt Whitman.

 

Me Imperturbe

Me imperturbe, standing at ease in Nature,
Master of all or mistress of all, aplomb in the midst of irrational things,
Imbued as they, passive, receptive, silent as they,
Finding my occupation, poverty, notoriety, foibles, crimes, less
important than I thought,
Me toward the Mexican sea, or in the Mannahatta or the Tennessee,
or far north or inland,
A river man, or a man of the woods or of any farm-life of these
States or of the coast, or the lakes or Kanada,
Me wherever my life is lived, O to be self-balanced for contingencies,
To confront night, storms, hunger, ridicule, accidents, rebuffs, as
the trees and animals do.

Poets to Come

Poets to come! orators, singers, musicians to come!
Not to-day is to justify me and answer what I am for,
But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental, greater than
before known,
Arouse! for you must justify me.

I myself but write one or two indicative words for the future,
I but advance a moment only to wheel and hurry back in the darkness.

I am a man who, sauntering along without fully stopping, turns a
casual look upon you and then averts his face,
Leaving it to you to prove and define it,
Expecting the main things from you.

 
Out of the Rolling Ocean the Crowd

Out of the rolling ocean the crowd came a drop gently to me,
Whispering I love you, before long I die,
I have travel’d a long way merely to look on you to touch you,
For I could not die till I once look’d on you,
For I fear’d I might afterward lose you.

Now we have met, we have look’d, we are safe,
Return in peace to the ocean my love,
I too am part of that ocean my love, we are not so much separated,
Behold the great rondure, the cohesion of all, how perfect!
But as for me, for you, the irresistible sea is to separate us,
As for an hour carrying us diverse, yet cannot carry us diverse forever;
Be not impatient—a little space—know you I salute the air, the
ocean and the land,
Every day at sundown for your dear sake my love.

 

Roots and Leaves Themselves Alone

Roots and leaves themselves alone are these,
Scents brought to men and women from the wild woods and pond-side,
Breast-sorrel and pinks of love, fingers that wind around tighter
than vines,
Gushes from the throats of birds hid in the foliage of trees as the
sun is risen,
Breezes of land and love set from living shores to you on the living
sea, to you O sailors!
Frost-mellow’d berries and Third-month twigs offer’d fresh to young
persons wandering out in the fields when the winter breaks up,
Love-buds put before you and within you whoever you are,
Buds to be unfolded on the old terms,
If you bring the warmth of the sun to them they will open and bring
form, color, perfume, to you,
If you become the aliment and the wet they will become flowers,
fruits, tall branches and trees.

 
Well, I’m off to sip iced tea in a genteel and lady-like manner whilst the cats wait on me hand and foot.

Or maybe that’s just heat exhaustion.

 

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