Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

AN APPROACH TO WALT

WHITMAN

I

THE MAN

Camerado, this is no book,
Who touches this touches a man.

A

a

BIG, gray, leisurely figure, ample, un

constrained, somewhat uncouth perhaps, but nevertheless strangely engaging by virtue of a native ease of manner and his manifest sincerity, - this is the image in broad strokes that suggests itself on mention of the name of Walt Whitman. It is a figure familiar in picture and by report. The flowing, wind-tossed beard and hair, the kindly mouth, the far-seeing eyes, the free-and-easy lilt of the large-framed body, distinguish him among the crowd, and invest him with the authority of natural things. Obviously, he is not an indoor product. He is a growth of the soil, of the sun and rain and the wide winds. Rugged, untrimmed, he has the breadth and sufficiency that Nature imparts to the things that grow

in harmony with her generous laws. One has heard of his odd way of life, trying his hand at a little of everything,

a not sticking to anything for long, a good deal of a loafer, a wanderer, and everybody's friend. He follows the open road, tracing some clue of his own, and content with the straws of experience that chance blows across his path. Among his numerous and varied exploits, he has made some fantastic-looking verses.

Walt Whitman is a name in literature, though it is in drawing-rooms and libraries that he would seem to be least at home. If he has written a book, it must be different from most. Such a personality as this must surely overflow the constraint of words and reach out beyond the printed page. His book, as it happens, is only a cluster of grass that he has gathered along his loitering way. But these casual leaves, fresh and alive with the climbing sap, are tokens of an immense reality. They are the well-considered offering of a genuine

man.

In “Leaves of Grass,” Walt Whitman is revealed as a thinker of profound insight and as an authentic poet. But more persuasive than his thought, more moving than his poetry, is the man himself. He is a presence. His secret, the spell which draws and holds us, is personality. The literary character of his work is incidental. His poetry is a means, the means that Whitman chooses for communicating his experience. The experience itself, realized vividly at first hand, is the main concern. Calling us out of the library into the streets and the open air, he takes us away from art accomplished and brings us direct to things. For these are “the real poems

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »