Saturday, August 9, 2008

84: Leaves of Grass

I'm really loving the blue-grays, the hints of green, and the woody browns of this place. So much so that I put together a set I'm simply calling The Lake--images to give you a sense of the peacefulness of here. I told my father that he should take his half of the house inheritance and instead of considering selling out to his brother, he ought to will it to me, so I can turn this place into an artist's retreat. Photographers, painters, writers. We could build a studio across the street at the edge of the woods, add a kiln, maybe a printing press.

My thoughts have turned to Walt Whitman. Not out of that celebration of self and environment, but out of necessity, though I do love turning over his words at this moment, in this place (with this grandmother who is so insistent that I vote, one who had been hopeful for Hilary, and has sent money to Al Franken).

The Weismann Art Museum, a part of the university campus, is involved in Minneapolis' Un-Convention, and on September 4th, there will be a one hour reading of selections from Leaves of Grass. We are to pick a five to ten minute section to read, and at the end, we'll do a choral reading as well.

My father suggested section thirty one:

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars, 660
And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren,
And the tree-toad is a chef-d’oeuvre for the highest,
And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven,
And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery,
And the cow crunching with depress’d head surpasses any statue, 665
And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels,
And I could come every afternoon of my life to look at the farmer’s girl boiling her iron tea-kettle and baking shortcake.

I find I incorporate gneiss, coal, long-threaded moss, fruits, grains, esculent roots,
And am stucco’d with quadrupeds and birds all over,
And have distanced what is behind me for good reasons, 670
And call anything close again, when I desire it.

In vain the speeding or shyness;
In vain the plutonic rocks send their old heat against my approach;
In vain the mastodon retreats beneath its own powder’d bones;
In vain objects stand leagues off, and assume manifold shapes; 675
In vain the ocean settling in hollows, and the great monsters lying low;
In vain the buzzard houses herself with the sky;
In vain the snake slides through the creepers and logs;
In vain the elk takes to the inner passes of the woods;
In vain the razor-bill’d auk sails far north to Labrador; 680
I follow quickly, I ascend to the nest in the fissure of the cliff.

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