Old Walt

2006-05-31

Today is the birthday of Walt Whitman, who my friend Deb Ross reminds me was born on this day in 1819. I happen to think that old Walt is the greatest American poet, probably the greatest American writer, and maybe even one of the greatest Americans. I wrote about Walt in three journal entries from 2001 (1, 2, 3) and ever since have been meaning to re-read his poems as well as his powerful essay Democratic Vistas (which I quoted obliquely in my recent post on understanding America). Until I write about Whitman again, I leave you with the poem "Old Walt" from another of my favorite American poets, Langston Hughes:

Old Walt Whitman
Went finding and seeking,
Finding less than sought
Seeking more than found,
Every detail minding
Of the seeking or the finding.

Pleasured equally
In seeking as in finding,
Each detail minding,
Old Walt went seeking
And finding.


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