Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Walt Whitman & Mrs. Wigglebottom

America, how can you not love Mrs. Wigglebottom, who doesn't care if you stumble home drunk and unhappy with yourself and the world? She'll wait for you to throw yourself down on the couch and pull the big green pillow to you, and then she'll leap up beside you and rest her rock-hard head on your hip with her ears cocked towards you like she'll listen, even if she can't understand. And when you sit there quietly wishing for either another drink or to not have bothered to start to drink at all, she'll rub her cheek against your leg, so that her walrus-y whiskers tickle you just a little. And your thoughts might turn to Walt Whitman, who really only wrote one good poem, even though you're usually loathe to admit that. But what a poem it is--still--one you can come back to again and again and find yourself in. How in the hell did Walt Whitman write a poem for a girl born 155 years after him? That is a mystery, I guess. Walt Whitman will not put up with you moping around on the green couch.

Shoulder your duds dear son, and I will mine, and let us hasten forth, Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go. If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest the chuff of your hand on my hip,

And in due time you shall repay the same service to me,

For after we start we never lie by again. This day before dawn I ascended a hill and look'd at the crowded heaven,

And I said to my spirit When we become the enfolders of those orbs, and the pleasure and knowledge of every thing in them, shall we be fill'd and satisfied then?

And my spirit said No, we but level that lift to pass and continue beyond. You are also asking me questions and I hear you,

I answer that I cannot answer, you must find out for yourself. Sit a while dear son,

Here are biscuits to eat and here is milk to drink,

But as soon as you sleep and renew yourself in sweet clothes, I kiss you with a good-by kiss and open the gate for your egress hence. Long enough have you dream'd contemptible dreams,

Now I wash the gum from your eyes,

You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life. Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore,

Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,

To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout, and laughingly dash with your hair.


Blogger harvestbird said...

Do you think it's from this poem that America's passion for cookies and milk first flowered? Or did Whitman's snack-related pledge reflect an existing social convention?

11/10/2005 12:11:00 AM  
Blogger Aunt B said...


Considering that no one in the U.S. gives Walt Whitman the props he deserves, I'm going to guess he was reflecting an existing social convention.

We'd all be better off following Whitman's passions. At least, I know I'd appreciate the opportunity to watch 28 naked men frolicking in the water...

11/10/2005 08:46:00 AM  
Blogger harvestbird said...

How many men in a water polo match? Because you can't convince me that they don't try and yank off each other's speedos when push comes to shove.

11/10/2005 06:29:00 PM  

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