Friday, November 11, 2011

A Sense of Place, A Sense of Home

There was a Child went Forth 
-- Walt Whitman  (1819-1892) - Leaves of Grass

THERE was a Child went forth every day;
And the first object he look's upon, that object he became;
And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain part of the
day, or for many years, or cycles of years.

The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass, and white and red morning-glories, and white and red
clover, and the song of the phoebe-bird,
And the Third-month lambs, and the sow's pink-faint litter, and the
mare's foal, and the cow's calf,
And the noisy brood of the barn-yard, or the mire of the pond-side,
And the fish suspending  themselves so curiously below there--
and the beautiful curious liquids,
And the water-plants with their graceful flat heads--all became part
of him.

The field-sprouts of Fourth-month and the Fifth-month became part of
Winter-grain sprouts, and those of light-yellow corn, and the
esculent roots of the garden,
And the apple-trees cover'd with blossoms, and the fruit afterwards,
and wood-berries, and the commonest weeds by the road;
And the drunkard staggering home from the out-house of the
tavern, whence he had lately risen,
And the school-mistress that pass'd -- and the quarrelsome boys,
And the tidy and fresh-cheek'd girls -- and the barefoot negro boy and
And all the changes of city and country, wherever he went.

His own parents,
He that had father'd him, and she that had conceiv'd him in her
womb, and birth'd him,
They gave this child more of themselves than that;
They gave him afterward every day -- they became part of him.

The mother at home, quietly placing the dishes on the supper-table;
The mother with mild words -- clean her cap and gown, a wholesome
odor falling off her person and cloths as she walked;
The father, strong, self-sufficient, manly, mean, anger'd, unjust;
The blow, the quick loud word, the tight bargain, the crafty lure,
The family usages, the language, the company, the furniture -- the
yearning and swelling hearts,
Affection that will not be gainsay'd -- the sense of what is real -- the
thought if, after all, it should prove unreal,
The doubts of day-time and the doubts of night-time -- the curious
whether and how,
Whether that which appears so is so, or is it all flashes and specks?
Men and women crowding fast in the streets -- if they are not flashes
and specks, what are they?
The streets themselves, and the facades of houses, and goods in the
Vehicles, teams, the heavy-plank'd wharves -- the huge crossing at
the ferries,
The village on the highland, seen from afar at sunset -- the river
Shadows, aureola and mist, the light falling on roofs and gables of
white or brown, three miles off,
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'd 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.

"Our" Walt is helping me think through my project.  I hope to be posting soon. - Steve


  1. WOW! 'Our' Walt. Such a perfect voice. Such deep truths. Love your image here. 'Our' Walt - the Jazz man, riffing on the eternal now.

    I am getting a sense of how deep you plan to take this project. Cheers!

  2. Thanks Sharon. I had this poem for a long time in a journal of which I just rediscovered and I went "wow" as well. And "wow" particularly with what I'm working on now :-)