Where Jayro found Whitman

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Where Jayro found Whitman

Where Jillian Found Whitman

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The poem in its entirety

Come up from the fields, father, here’s a letter from our Pete,
And come to the front door, mother, here’s
a letter from thy dear son.

Lo, ’tis autumn,
Lo, where the trees, deeper green, yellower and redder,
Cool and sweeten Ohio’s villages with leaves
fluttering in the moderate wind,
Where apples ripe in the orchards hang and
grapes on the trellis’d vines,
(Smell you the smell of the grapes on the vines?
Smell you the buckwheat where the bees were lately buzzing?)
Above all, lo, the sky so calm, so transparent
after the rain, and with wondrous clouds,
Below too, all calm, all vital and beautiful,
and the farm prospers well.

Down in the fields all prospers well,
But now from the fields come, father, come
at the daughter’s call,
And come to the entry, mother, to the front door come right away.
Fast as she can she hurries, something ominous,
her steps trembling,
She does not tarry to smooth her hair nor
adjust her cap.

Open the envelope quickly,
0 this is not our son’s writing, yet his name
is sign’d,
0 a strange hand writes for our dear son,
0 stricken mother’s soul!
All swims before her eyes, flashes with black,
she catches the main words only,
Sentences broken, gunshot wound in the breast,
cavalry skirmish, taken to hospital,
At present low, but will soon be better.

Ah, now the single figure to me,
Amid all teeming and wealthy Ohio with all
its cities and farms,
Sickly white in the face and dull in the head,
very faint,
By the jamb of a door leans.

Grieve not so, dear mother (the just-grown
daughter speaks through her sobs,
The little sisters huddle around speechless and
dismay’d),
See, dearest mother, the letter says Pete will
soon be better.

Alas, poor boy, he will never be better (nor maybe
needs to be better, that brave and simple soul),
While they stand at home at the door he is
dead already,
The only son is dead.

But the mother needs to be better,
She with thin form presently drest in black,
By day her meals untouch’d, then at night
fitfully sleeping, often waking,
In the midnight waking, weeping, longing with
one deep longing,
0 that she might withdraw unnoticed, silent
from life escape and withdraw,
To follow, to seek, to be with her dear dead
son.

Where Chuck Found Whitman

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Where Chuck Found Whitman

Where the Other Sam Found Walt Whitman

The “Bloody Angle” is the name given to a piece of ground at the Spotsylvania Courthouse Battlefield on which some of the war’s most traumatizing hand-to-hand and muzzle-to-muzzle fighting took place in May 1864.  Whitman would certainly have encountered a number of those men damaged at the site.

Finding Whitman

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Location : 406 Princess Elizabeth St.

Poem: Whoever You Are Now Holding Me in Hand

Finding Whitman

Location : 406 Princess Elizabeth St.

Poem: Whoever You Are Now Holding Me in Hand

Levis, Walt Whitman, Technology, and what makes the American Dream

I’ve begun to notice more and more people discussing the Levis campaign of advertisements, as well as the contest going along with it. Heavily based on Whitman the story follows a character who after reading Leaves Of Grass for the first time sets off into America to really know his own country and himself. In following the story, the contestants have an opportunity to find where the character Grayson Ozias IV (GO IV, get it?) has buried $100,000.

The contest is comprised of three stages, the first of which I’ve been actively following. Starting off in New York City the story is told via the Levis website http://goforth.levi.com/fortune where there are audio recordings left in digital portrayals of wax cylinders ( which Whitman recorded “I hear America singing” on).

The clues lead you to a location and time, where someone actually has to go and pick up physical objects related to the story, as well as unlocking the next digital audio clue. The game has been dubbed an Alternate Reality Game: where a fictional game or story requires the participants to actively use the real world to complete the game. The physical clues at locations sometimes include ciphers- puzzles that while its unsure if they give any direct information to the location of the treasure, the third phase of the game involves a cipher that leads to the location, so these early ones are mostly to help you understand cipher methods.

What I’ve really enjoyed about playing along with this game is that it actually educates the players not only on this fictional character, but the works of Walt Whitman and a history of America through local stories and folklore that wouldn’t be found in a general American History overview. Things like Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop  of New Orleans- a former front for the pirate Jean Lafitte turned into a bar, the sinking of the SS Central America of Charleston- one of the largest depositories of gold ever found in America, Robert Leroy Parker AKA Butch Cassidy and his ranch in Wyoming, or Joseph “Bunco” Kelly and the nefarious Shanghai Tunnels of Oregon. These are just a few of the things the story interacts with through the clues and it forces contestants to go to these places and see this part of our country.

Another wonderful part of this contest is the technology actively used within the contest. The creators did a great deal of work thoughtfully planning it out – using not only the website but a character/game support identity based via Twitter and Facebook- as well as dispersing cryptic media packages to many retails across the country especially those known for being denim jean aficionados. But the contestants themselves have worked to create resources for everyone to use and work with to become better informed. This includes a wiki at http://goforth.wikibruce.com as a resource for the multilayered game play. The website http://whereisthemaninthehat.tumblr.com/ was created by a player to let everyone else document their journeys to clue drop offs and allows everyone to submit their videos and photos. In preparation for phase two, a quiz that narrows the contestants down to only the first 100 people to complete it fully, web based chat rooms were set up so that many players could actively discuss clues with one another. The website offered by Levis does offer a discussion page, but it requires refreshing the page and potentially having a large number of new posts and having to search for a response to what you just said rather than a dynamically changing site that many are used to with current websites. For many of the clue drop offs, people were able to find webcams at locations so that we could all observe what happened in close to real time. At the Rochester Hotel clue pickup in Durango, CO the two contestants that went actually used their laptop to provide steaming video personally to view clues painted on the wall. The fact that this contest started now is interesting, because much like this site and the Whitman Archive it is using current technology to celebrate Whitman and the spirit of America.

There are drawbacks to the contest though. Obviously the main goal of this entire game is to generate an interest in Levis products. It’s very likely and almost a little hurtful to think that someone within the Levis’ corporate doesn’t really care about Whitman, or America, just about generating profits.

What’s really more concerning to me is that while this contest has forced people from all age groups out in search of America, what happens when it ends? Who’s ideal of America is being sought after? Something tells me that Whitman would despise that we’re not carving our own path. His words weren’t a path laid out, but rather a call to bolster oneself and move forward with undaunted determination to seek something out for yourself.

That being said, I’m still following the game. Yesterday I took the quiz in the Phase 2 portion of the game, and if I qualify in first 100 at the announcement tomorrow night at 9pm, I’ll be receiving a final cipher that I need to solve first in order to go forth in search of the treasure. Results to come soon!

Chelsea Finds Whitman

I found Whitman at Riverby Books in downtown Fredericksburg in front of the “Modern Warfare” section

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