Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I am the poet of the body and of the soul...

Monday night I watched PBS American Experience, which as a closet history buff I tend to enjoy quite a bit. The subject for this episode was Walt Whitman, American poet and romantic transcendentalist. It was extremely insightful, calling on many Whitman scholars to retell the story of the man and the impact his poetry had upon the national psyche. I was reminded of how, as a freshman in high school, I had read Whitman's The Lern'd Astronomer, Song of Myself, and I Sing the Body Electric in Mr. Jack Covington's English lit class at Arlington High School and fell in love with the timelessness and transcendental quality of Whitman and his poetry. He was a rebel and a hopeless romantic, in his relationship with others, to his country, and to the world. I wanted to be such a rebel and began to re-imagine and re-create myself as a poet. I remember seeing Dead Poet's Society for the first time and just going crazy over the fact that a poet I loved so much was so oft-quoted and revered in a popular movie. After watching the two-hour special, I dusted off my multiple copies of Leaves of Grass and The Complete Poems and am working on rereading them this past week. It has been a real re-awakening of my romantic, poetic, and rebellious side. I recommend the program and Whitman to anyone seeking some poetic respite from viewing or reading.

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