Муниципальное бюджетное общеобразовательное учреждение города Керчи Республики Крым "Специализированная школа № 1 имени Володи Дубинина"

 







WALT WHITMAN


 

LESSONS 1-2

WALT WHITMAN

 

(1819—1892). Whitman's poetry exercised a great influence on many poets of the twentieth century throughout the world.The poet was born in 1819 at West Hills, a little farming community in Long Island, N.Y. His father moved his family to Brooklyn in 1823. Walt Whitman had experienced a great deal of adversities before recognition came to him. At the age of eleven he began to work as an office-boy in a law-firm. Then he was apprenticed to the printing trade. For two decades the poet worked alternately as printer, editor, and journalist. Whitman was greatly impressed by the revolutionary events of 1848 in Eu-md he took part in the political activities in his country. Whitman protested against all sorts of oppression and especially he exposed inhumanity of slavery. result he did not prosper as an editor because his social views did not agree with the policies of the owners of the papers on which he was employed. In this period appeared his first poem "Europe" (1850), written in unconventional verse Form, It was included Into the collection of poems named "Leaves of Grass" which in its first version appeared in 1855 (with its final additions and revisions it came out in I892). The publisher was Whitman himself who had printed it at his own expense. But the book brought him neither money nor fame. It was only later on that it was recognized as one of the masterpieces of world litera­ture. To earn money Whitman continued to contribute to newspapers. During the Civil War (1861—1865) Whitman praised the people who courageously fought against the slave-owners. His war experiences were reflected in a volume of poetry "Drum-Taps" (1865) and the poems inspired by Lincoln's death: "O Captain! My Captain!" (1865) and "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" (1866). These were also included into "Leaves of Grass". In his poems Whitman celebrates common people mainly. The poet empha­sizes his association with (those who have toil-hardened hands. Whitman had faith in the innate goodness of human nature, in the power and might of man, in his ability to create a better world.

 

LEAVES OF GRASS INSCRIPTIONS

SONG OF MYSELF

1

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,

And what I assume you shall assume,

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,

I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My  tongue,  every  atom  of  my  blood,   form'd  from  this  soil, this   air,

Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their

parents the same, I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,

Hoping to cease not till death.

Creeds and schools in abeyance,

Retiring  back   a   while   sufficed   at   what   they   are,   but   never forgotten, 

I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,

Nature without check with original energy.

10

The runaway slave came to my house and stopt outside,

I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the woodpile,

Through the swung half-door of the kitchen  I saw him limpsy

and weak, And went where he sat on  a  log and  led him  in  and  assured him,

And  brought water and fill'd a  tub for his sweated  body and

bruis'd feet, And gave him a room that enter'd from my own, and gave him

some   coarse   clean clothes, And remember perfectly well  his  revolving eyes  and his awkwardness, 

And  remember  putting  plasters  on   the  galls  of his   neck  and

ankles; He staid with me a week before he was recuperated and pass'd north,

I had him sit next me at table, my fire-lock lean'd in the corner.

 

 

13

The negro holds firmly  the reins of his four horses, the block

swags underneath on its tied-over chain,

The  negro that  drives  the  long  dray  of  the  stone-yard,  steady

and   tall   he  stands  pois'd  on  one  leg  on the

string-piece, His blue shirt exposes his ample neck  and  breast and  loosens

over his hip-band,

His glance is calm and commanding, he tosses the slouch of his

hat   away   from   his   forehead,

The sun falls on his crispy hair and mustache, falls on the black

of his polish'd and perfect limbs.

I behold the picturesque giant and love him, and  I do not stop

there, I go with the team also.

31

I  believe  a  leaf of  grass  is no  less than  the journey-work  of

the   stars,

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,

And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels.

33

The hounded slave that flags in the race, leans by the fence, 

blowing,   cover'd   with   sweat,

The twinges that sting like needles his legs and neck,

the mur­derous buckshot and the bullets,

All these I feel or am.

I am the hounded slave, I wince at the bite of the dogs,

Hell and despair are upon me, crack and again crack the marks­men,

I clutch the rails of the fence, my gore dribs, thinn'd with the

ooze of my skin,

   I fall on the weeds and stones,

The riders spur their unwilling horses, haul close,

Taunt my dizzy ears and beat me violently over the head

wihtwhipstocks.

45

I open my scuttle at night and see the far-sprinkled systems,

And all I see multiplied as high as I can cipher edge but the rim of the farther systems.

Wider and wider they spread, expanding, always expanding,

Outward and outward and forever outward.

My sun has his sun and round him obediently wheels,

He joins with his partners a group of superior circuit,

And greater  sets follow, making specks of the  greatest  inside them.

There is no stoppage and never can be stoppage,

If I, you, and the worlds, and all beneath or upon their surfaces, were this moment reduced back to a pallid float, it would not avail in the long run,

We should surely bring up again where we now stand,

And surely go as much farther, and then farther and farther.

A few quadrillions of eras, a few octillions of cubic leagues, do

not hazard the span or make it impatient, They are but parts, any thing is but a part.

 

COMMENTARY

  1. toloafe(or loaf) —to spend time idly.
  2. limpsy— flexible.
  3. stone-yard— a stone-pit.
  4. string-piece—a detachable front of a cart.
  5. dribs— dribbles.
  6. whipstock—a whip-handle.

TASK to LESSONS 1-2

TASK 1. Read the poem and translate your favourite extract.

TASK 2. Learn your favourite extract by heart.