Whitman and the War

October 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

Some contemporary links, to think back to Whitman, to see where writers are forwarding Whitman into today.

The first is Nick Flynn’s Poem “Fire,” where Whitman’s war poem “Oh Captain! My Captain!” is evoked. I also hear elements of Whitman’s “Out of the Cradle.”

The second is the lyric essay Don’t Let Me Be Lonely by Claudia Rankine. Some of you might have heard her two years ago when she visited the Lit House. I heard a good deal of Whitman’s voice from his war memoranda (the prose, not the poetry), Whitman the nurse, in her project.

Whitman’s “Pioneers! O Pioneers!” is originally part of Drum Taps, later moved out to a different section of LG. Does the martial language surprise you? It showed up recently on another Levi’s commercial. Is this still the language of union?

And a final link. Our own Adam Goodheart wrote a piece last year for the New York Times series Disunion; it focuses on Whitman’s notebooks and his early views of the Civil War.

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