* NOTICE: Mr. Center's Wall is on indefinite hiatus. Got something to say about it? Click HERE and type.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Poetry XXI -- One for My Daughter, One for Me

The quality of a poem is a very subjective thing.

Slumber Party
My party was the best one yet!
My friends came by and spent the night.
We had a crazy pillow fight.
We laughed until we cried.

My party was the best one yet!
We ate popcorn and watched TV.
We played dress-up and sang off-key.
We danced.  At least, we tried!

My party was the best one yet!
We whispered secrets all night through.
We listened to some records, too.
We played two games, or three.

My party was the best one yet!
And you know why it was such fun?
My friends!  Yes, each and every one
was there along with me.

—from Minnie and Me, My Favorite Book


I Tramp a Perpetual Journey
by Walt Whitman
I know I have the best of time and space, and was never measured and
    never will be measured.
I tramp a perpetual journey, (come listen all!)
My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut from the woods,
No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair,
I have no chair, no church, no philosophy,
I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, exchange,
But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll,
My left hand hooking you round the waist,
My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the public road.

Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,
You must travel it for yourself.

It is not far, it is within reach,
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,
Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.

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.


  1. I like how Walt Whitman always involves the reader.

    I think that the connection is that both poems are sort of celebrations of life, but Whitman's is (well obviously more profound), but more individualistic, as well. It's more about sort of a mental journey that one must take.

  2. I don't love all of Whitman, but when he connects, it's solid, real, and affecting, but my 3-year-old doesn't "get" him. She and Minnie definitely speak the same language. :)

  3. LOL We read "Song of Myself" in my poetry class (no surprise there, I guess). I really enjoyed it. He's not my favorite poet, but I like how he makes the world come to life and be something worth celebrating.

  4. I had second thoughts about posting "Song of Myself" on my blog. There's a lot of that poem I relate to, deeply and personally, but others that my naturally conservative nature, well, sort of repels--or resists.

  5. Yeah, I think that you could do worse than Walt Whitman in that regard, though, such as... the entire 20th century--outside of my beloved T.S. Eliot, of course.

  6. Very true. There is very little contemporary poetry that does much for me, but, then again, I haven't exactly read a ton of it. And, yes, I'm with you there on Eliot.


Be sure to subscribe to the thread to receive discussion updates.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...