- ESSAY –
What do you hear, Walt Whitman?...
What do yo see, Walt Whitman?...
One story among a lot, and lots of stories put together. Without a doubt Walt Whitman is one of the most prestigious poets in American poetry. It is said that he died in May of 1892, however I truly doubt it so, because mere pieces of flesh and bones are not a man, and a body lying motionless andlifeless doesn’t mean that the transcendent legacy he left us written onto history by his own hand died along with him. Whitman lives, and he lives with much more intensity now than when he lived in 1819, which is the date this phoenix first spread his wings for the first time as he took in his first breath.
Walt Whitman, the man that sang to himself, obscene, perverse, tempting, erotic,exquisite and marvelous, the father of free verse. A most controversial character for his time, undoubtedly the greatest minds take time to be understood. On this time and age he is considered an American symbol for poetry.
Talking about Whitman is not talking about a simple man. To talk about Whitman is not talking about a single voice. Walt Whitman was many men made into one. He was many voices thatmerged together. As he would say himself: it is complicated to talk about one’s self when one hardly knows who one is, and I think that it is much more difficult to talk about a person who hardly knew anything about himself, so I will make my stand in two different conceptions about Whitman’s life, which, to me, are the most complete conceptions, one of them is from José Martí, and the other fromBorges.
José Martí pictures Whitman in “Palabras definidoras de José Martí” from the introduction of Leaves of Grass, as a passionate man, a man whose love was uncontrollably hot, it so as he describes, and I quote:
As Safo´s fire loves the world this man.
Taking back Martí’s idea and spreading it with my own perspective of the Leaves of Grass author, Whitman is to me a cheater, a littlechild who likes playing with us, an artist that prints his own originality with each letter, an artist that lies to us and traps us into every one of his words as if they were the bars of a cage, getting a hold of us by force and sodomizing us with his imperceptible and yet irresistible seduction. Whitman makes us believe to be the sweet victims of a violent and passionate game, when in reality hetakes our faces tenderly and gives us the kindest of smacks, a kiss, and the most hopefully and shameless of sights.
Walt Whitman was a single book man, which he built and complemented during his whole life, according to some biographers this book’s first edition was paid fully from Whitman´s own pocket, and the highly accented nerve and liberalism of the poet put on him the mark an obscene man forhis time. Great minds are always misunderstood while kept on small jars.
Contrary to the critics about being an obscene man, Walt Whitman transcended time, and it is precisely thanks to the ideas the unfolded for us. His singular language, his irregularity on the poetic structure, and the warmth of his voice as the sings and cries aloud at the same time for so many other closed lips
The firstimpact that caused Whitman´s poetry, as well as many other brilliant poets, happened in front of a demure society, a society that was not even able to look at its own self naked, a small jar for a mind so great, and yet, with time, his talent was recognized, and his death was only a much more impressive renaissance for this phoenix.
To talk about famous American poets at the present time opens up achance to talk about Whitman, about a man who was in love with himself, in love with the human race, with nature, with the grass, the very same grass that seduced him and caressed him, and even now, still covers him carefully, singing for him and letting him sing back to it.
Walt Whitman was many man and many voices at the same time, but essentially, as Borges describes him, he was two men at...