Walt Whitman tagged posts

Decay and Renewal: An Analysis of Walt Whitman’s “This Compost”

Some 16 months ago (about 60 posts in BlogTime), I feautured Robert Ingersoll’s eulogy of Walt Whitman, with a brief commentary indicating I would return to Whitman’s work, it being the inexhaustible centerpiece of American poetry that it is.

So, following the advice of reader Robby Miller at that time that I keep a copy of Leaves of Grass always handy and open it at random moments to a random page and read for a spell, I did just that the other night and landed on “This Compost.”

Such an ecological theme for these times, yes? Conjuring images of all those nice organic carrot peels and lemon rinds we lovingly transport to our backyard compost bins, there to mix with leaves and the miraculously multiplying worms to eventually create a teeming dark pile of life-giving soil.

But Whitman takes a different, slightly darker tack in “This Compost,” where there is not a carrot peel or zucchini tip in sight...

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“I Contain Multitudes”: Carrying on Through Darkness and Light

Forty-five years ago today, I got a “Dear John” letter from my high school heartthrob who had gone away to college. It was my first major heartbreak (there would be others), and as I collapsed onto my bed sobbing while beholding my girlfriend’s sincere but crushing words, my mom hurried into my room and proceeded to pull me close to her as I wept onto her shoulder for a good long while.

Ah, me…

I have always remembered the date because it was one I had marked on my internal calendar many months before. My junior college basketball team was scheduled to play the UCLA freshman team that night at none other than fabled Pauley Pavilion, and if you don’t know anything about basketball, taking the court to play at Pauley against a team with “UCLA” inscribed on their jerseys was akin at the time to having one of your paintings hanging for a day in the Louvre next to a Picasso.

So here I was, ready for the...

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Age of Vanity: Ali, Whitman, Facebook & Us

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

—Ecclesiastes1

I was a fight fan in my youth.
On Friday nights, my dad would pop home after his arduous work week with a quart or two of Eastside Old Tap Lager in hand—or when he was feeling flush, the slightly pricier Miller High Life—and we’d tune into the Friday Night Fights hosted by Don Dunphy, whose voice remains permanently etched in my memory. (Exactly where, is what I want to know, and how does memory encode itself into my brain matter to so clearly remember a voice?)

Anyway, this was a weekly ritual, my brother and I sipping RC Colas (cheaper than Coke) and sneaking an occasional sip of beer when Dad went to the bathroom. It went on for years, at least as I remember it, until this very brash and intriguing figure named Cassius Clay came on the scene after he’d won the gold medal in the 1960 Rome Olympics.

My dad ...

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