I have never read Walt Whitman…

It’s not something that defines me… (Sorry, private joke) but I’ve never got round to reading Walt Whitman.

However, this poem  I found on the blog I mentioned (by the Urchins earlier today), is so achingly beautiful that I am definitely off to the library as soon as the spare moment arrives, and getting out something by this writer. And something by Allen Ginsberg as well, while I’m about it. I think that’s called chain-reading. You read a reference to another book or author in the book you’re busy with, and then that spawns new possibilities in its turn.

‘A SUPERMARKET IN CALIFORNIA’ BY ALLEN GINSBERG

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the
sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit
supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles
full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!—and you,
Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among the
meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.

I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price
bananas? Are you my Angel?

I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you, and followed
in my imagination by the store detective.
We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting
artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier.

Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way
does your beard point tonight?

(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel absurd.)

Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we’ll both be lonely.

Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in
driveways, home to our silent cottage?

Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America did you
have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and
stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe?


 

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4 thoughts on “I have never read Walt Whitman…

    • Oh my goodness, it’s overwhelmingly beautiful. This was an excellent place to mention it because Geo (The Urchin Movement) will probably also see it. It’s wonderful to cross-pollinate such beauty to enrich everyone. (My email addy can be found via my picture-kitchen website link on ‘about’.)

      I love it. Thank you so much Antony. Hugely appreciate it, and am so glad I’ve started this blog. It’s become such an enriching experience.

      Thanks again. These paintings are so inspiring – some make me want to laugh and cry at the same time. When I get to my new place I’m SO starting to paint again.

  1. I had a similar reaction when I first read the Ginsberg poem. The interesting – and downright wonderful – thing is that Ginsberg and Whitman are simultaneously similar and different, it seems. I love them both.

    And thank you so much for all the love! We are glad you are enjoying all the poetry and that you’re spending National Poetry Month with us!

    Geo,
    The Urchin Movement

    • Wow – great to hear from you, Geo! Not sure if you saw one of my previous blogs in which I mention your site as a major find – a true pleasure paradise of the mind. I had made a mental note to visit often, and recently with a very large file loading and saving, there’s been time to visit. And I’m so glad I did…

      Thanks so much for the mind-food and for stopping by. I’m looking forward to the feast that awaits, with these two.

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