Author Archives: Marty Luster

Video: Celebrate Walt Whitman’s 197th Birthday Today

Walt was born on August 31, 1819 and died on March 26, 1892. Among his greatest poems is Out of The Cradle Endlessly Rocking. The first stanza is 24 lines long and consists of a single grammatically correct sentence. I have attempted to capture the mood and import of that stanza in this short (5 minute) video.

My thanks to Rauol Pop <https://raoulpop.com&gt; for his permission to use his footage of a very vocal mockingbird.

 

The Schooner Near By

 

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The schooner near by, sleepily dropping down the tide—the little boat slack-tow’d astern,
The hurrying tumbling waves, quick-broken crests, slapping,
The strata of color’d clouds, the long bar of maroon-tint, away solitary by itself—the spread of purity it lies motionless in,
The horizon’s edge, the flying sea-crow, the fragrance of salt marsh and shore mud;
These became part of that child who went forth every day, and who now goes, and will always go forth every day.

Walt Whitman, from There Was A Child Went Forth.

Lilacs

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When Lilacs Last  in the Door-Yard Bloom’d by Walt Whitman, is, in my very humble opinion, one of the greatest works ever produced by an American poet. At first reading, it is an exquisite elegy for Abraham Lincoln who was loved by Whitman and whose assassination shattered the poet. Slowly and carefully reading (preferably aloud) the poem’s 200-plus lines reveals a greater and deeper treasury of meaning through a rich orchestration of poetic devices.

I first encountered Lilacs in about 1960 while attending Long Island University in Whitman’s hometown of Brooklyn, NY.  My teacher was Professor Scott (I don’t remember his first name) who, like the Robin Williams character in Dead Poets Society, brought Whitman alive for me and made him my life-long companion.

If you’ve never read Lilacs, or if you’ve not read it since college, give it a go.

Here it is:

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/45480

 

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