Every year, poets.org celebrates poetry for a month. So I’m starting it off this way.
Walt Whitman caught me accidentally. I found a copy of Leaves of Grass and other collected poems in the bookstore bargain bin about nine years ago. I might have paid $4 for the cloth-bound, embossed volume that I bought more for looks than for content. But then, I discovered the roaring soul of Whitman’s words echoing through my body. The tangible shudder of phrases forming images both concrete and ephemeral. I think I love him more because of the accident of our meeting. But he is also like the ocean to me. Vast and crashing and and unpossessable and so intimately interstitial. He is my going home to a place I never lived.
A noiseless patient spider
by Walt Whitman
A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.