Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Walt Whitman, Garrison Keillor, Love Poems....

Yesterday was Gary Johnson's "Montona" - a poem of love, lust, redemption - appearing in "The Writer's Almanac" and being read by Garrison Keillor. Today, Mr. Keillor features another love poem of sorts, also taking us along a routed course of passion, this one by Walt Whitman.

I invite you to read the poem with your own journeys of love in mind. Following Whitman's text, I pose my own questions of contemplation.

Poems: "Once I Pass'd through a Populous City " by Walt Whitman, from Selected Poems. © Dover Publications, Inc., 1991. Reprinted with permission.(buy now)

Once I Pass'd through a Populous City

Once I pass'd through a populous city imprinting my brain for future
use with its shows, architecture, customs, traditions,
Yet now of all that city I remember only a woman I casually met there
who detain'd me for love of me,
Day by day and night by night we were together—all else has long
been forgotten by me,
I remember I say only that woman who passionately clung to me,
Again we wander, we love, we separate again,
Again she holds me by the hand, I must not go,
I see her close beside me with silent lips sad and tremulous.

What cities have I passed through?
(And you?)
Who did you encounter?
(And I?)
How are we detained in such meetings?
What do our memories hold? Where does emotion get stored?
Where does the memory, the encounter of love, live in our bodies?
What other things do we retain?
Does Garrison Keillor select these poems? If not him, who?
I wonder what inspires them?
If Walt were sitting here with me now, could he draw this woman if I asked?
What would a conversation between Whitman and Johnson sound like on this topic?
I wonder what populous city Mr. Whitman encountered this woman in?
Do you have silent and tremulous lips?


Know I write with deep gratitude, joy, and laughter in my body contemplating such poems!

Thank you Walt Whitman!
Thank you Garrison Keillor!
Thank you Writer's Almanac!
Thank you, God, for journeys!


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