By Rosie Moore
I hear the men outside mowing my lawn. They come here three times a month, one with the mower, and one with a weed-whacker. As I watched the blades of grass tumble to the ground as on a swift journey, I recalled a book I have called, “Selections from Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman. Immediately the wheels started churning in my mind.
Walt was born on May 31,1819 in West Hills, N.Y. into a family of modest means, the second of eight children. His father yanked him out of school at the age eleven to go to work. He found employment in the printing business. In 1855 he finally found the voice and style he was searching for and self-published a slim book of twelve poems. He grew up in a period of vast and rapid expansion in the United States. It was the era of the California gold rush, the Mexican war, the struggles for abolition and women’s suffrage, the growth of factories and labor unions. All these subjects were reflected in his poetry.
As soon as I read his poem, “O Captain! My Captain!” an image came to mind. I could see Ethan Hawke standing on his desk protesting the unfair termination of his teacher in one of my favorite movies, “Dead Poet’s Society”. The movie where Robin Williams played a wayward teacher to the dismay of the stuffy old mentors who believed in doing everything “by the book”. Eventually the whole class stood on their desks to salute the teacher who taught them to think for themselves, to stand up for what they believed.
“Oh, Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won.
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my captain lies
Fallen cold and dead.”
This is the first verse of that melancholy poem. I also want to add the movie was one of Robin Williams’ greatest portrayal of awesome acting. It will forever be a classic.
Walt suffered a stroke which left him partially paralyzed in 1873 but he continued to work on his Leaves of Grass until his death in 1892 and his work will be remembered forever.
Thought for the day: I have learned that to be with those I like is enough. Walt Whitman
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