missvirginia on Nov 16th 2009
The one thing that really struck me in the reading, made me mad. MADE ME PISSED OFF!! Funny enough, it was in the first few sentences of the entire reading. “The master-songs are ended, and the man/That sang them is a name” from Higgins’ essay just enraged me. It was like someone just read over one of Walt’s poems and didn’t care about the life, the experiences he had, or anything that went in to the poetry. But then I felt better once I read Higgins’ hypothesis of how our Walt became “Walt Whitman”. His poetry being too “pure” is a beautiful way of putting how the poems seem to almost go beyond people today, go over their heads, and that is why he isn’t as “popular” as other poets.
Higgins’ four elements that made Whitman the icon that he is are nicely insightful and agreeable. One thing that I thought of immediately when reading that is how the timing of his poetry and life were quite impeccable for each other. Higgins’ third item in the list is how he made sex and the body possible in poetry. I have to say that if he hadn’t published most of the poems right after the Civil War (specifically the 1867 edition), the criticism of his “bawdy”-ness (no pun intended) would have been so much more and more scathing. Yet, the country’s idea of the human body was still evolving and changing rapidly; especially with the frankness naked soldiers had to be dealt with. There was no point in trying to be “appropriate” when a man had shrapnel covering his thighs and crotch area.
Using that as a segway, Pound’s chapter was hilarious! But I loved how he used America’s bad things, like the crudeness and hollow feelings that exist in this nation, both in a physical/geographical sense of the word and in the people. It was beautifully written to be realistic, complementary, and rude at the same time. I totally agree with Pound’s overall theme; there is no other American poet who captures the rawness of the nation. He represents the different areas, he mentions the forests, the streets, the beaches, and the people. He keeps most of the poems as if the reader were his eye. His descriptions of the scenes he writes about create a very distinct feeling for the reader; it is intimate.
In the selected readings on the blog, Hart Crane seemed to most channel Whitman. The punctuation, rhythm, and word usage screamed Whitmaniac I’ve never read Allen Ginsberg before, but America made me want to go buy a book of his. Especially America being so scathingly judgemental and ugly. Yet, people are that. People are beautiful too, and maybe because I’m such an optimistic people person the poem’s high criticism doesn’t bother me at all. I think Whitman would have appreciated the poem, but probably wished that there had been some sort of positive reinforcement that American, despite it’s issues is beautiful. But maybe, just maybe that is what makes America beautiful; that I can walk down the street and see a homeless person peeing on the sidewalk, that when I turn on the News at 6 there is rarely good news on. We look at those things like they’re ugly, but it’s part of humanity, it’s part of what we are living with today. So to channel Walt, embrace it and the ugliness, according to Higgins, will rectify itself in the future. We just have to keep plugging away.
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