Books, not which afford us a cowering enjoyment, but in which each thought is of unusual daring; such as an idle man cannot read, and a timid one would not be entertained by, which even make us dangerous to existing institution—such I call good books. - Henry David Thoreau
Thursday, December 2, 2010
The Literary Blog Hop, Wherein I Sing the Song of Myself
It's Thursday again, and our friends over at The Blue Bookcase are once again hosting the Literary Blog Hop--a capital idea if ever there was one. This week, I must admit, they've unsettled me. This week's discussion topic (from the very well-read and articulate Parrish Lantern) is "Who is your favorite poet and why?" And like a boot to the head, I suddenly came to the realization that The Literate Man has entirely ignored the topic of poetry for nearly nine months now. That said, there is plenty of poetry (or at least dirty limerick) in Ulysses, and it is based on Homer's Odyssey, and Joyce's prose is nothing if not poetic, so I give myself a half point for our two reviews of that book (here and here). But that does little to ameliorate this deplorable situation, which really deserves some serious attention.
So, there's no time like the present.
My favorite poet, hands down, is Walt Whitman. The why of my choice has everything to do with Whitman's poem, Song of Myself, included in Leaves of Grass. I grew up in a very small, one stop light town in Western New York, where I had a vague notion that the world somewhere out there was large and busy and exciting, with limiteless possibilities for those that were willing to dive into it, but it wasn't until I read Song of Myself that I knew it for a certainty. Song is nothing short of a celebration of the great variety of human existence and endeavor, admittedly focused on a post-frontier America, but also universally applicable. In Song and elsewhere, Whitman captures the harsh reality of human existence--the blood and sweat and decay--and places it in the larger context of the wonder of physical existence and the endless cycles of birth and death that bring us all together, both physically and emotionally. If I'm honest with myself, I think that Whitman still provides at least one of the pillars of my own individual world view.
And so, we owe a debt of gratitude to Parrish Lantern and The Blue Bookcase for bringing this glaring omission to our attention. It shall be rectified. In the meantime, what do you think of Whitman? Is there a particular poet that reaches your heart or tickles your fancy more directly? And to whom do you owe your own particular world view?
Patrick (at The Literate Man)