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Walt Whitman: a prelude to Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot

One of the first poets to utilize free verse

  • A Promise to California
  • A promise to California, 
  • Also to the great Pastoral Plains, and for Oregon: 
  • Sojourning east a while longer, soon I travel toward you, to remain, to teach robust
  • American love; 
  • For I know very well that I and robust love belong among you, inland, and along the
  • Western Sea; 
  • For These States tend inland, and toward the Western Sea--and I will also.
  • A Clear Midnight
  • This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless, 
  • Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done, 
  • Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best. 
  • Night, sleep, death and the stars.
  • A Noiseless Patient Spider
  • 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, surrounded, 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.
  • A Glimpse
  • A glimpse, through an interstice caught, 
  • Of a crowd of workmen and drivers in a bar-room, around the stove, late of a winter
  • night—And I unremark’d seated in a corner; 
  • Of a youth who loves me, and whom I love, silently approaching, and seating himself
  • near, that he may hold me by the hand; 
  • A long while, amid the noises of coming and going--of drinking and oath and smutty
  • jest, 
  • There we two, content, happy in being together, speaking little, perhaps not a word.
  • A Farm Picture
  • THROUGH the ample open door of the peaceful country barn, 
  • A sun-lit pasture field, with cattle and horses feeding; 
  • And haze, and vista, and the far horizon, fading away.
Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was one of the premier poets of American verse, and one of the most influential poets in both American and world literature. One of the first poets to utilize free verse—poetry that employs neither a strict rhyme scheme nor a strict metrical or stanza pattern—Whitman serves as a prelude to modernist poets such as Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot. Whitman collected his poems in a single volume, Leaves of Grass, which celebrates humanity in all its forms and occupations, and also sang the praises of the unique contributions which American democracy and republicanism have made to human freedom and human dignity.

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  • A Promise to California
  • A promise to California, 
  • Also to the great Pastoral Plains, and for Oregon: 
  • Sojourning east a while longer, soon I travel toward you, to remain, to teach robust
  • American love; 
  • For I know very well that I and robust love belong among you, inland, and along the
  • Western Sea; 
  • For These States tend inland, and toward the Western Sea--and I will also.
  • A Clear Midnight
  • This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless, 
  • Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done, 
  • Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best. 
  • Night, sleep, death and the stars.
  • A Noiseless Patient Spider
  • 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, surrounded, 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.
  • A Glimpse
  • A glimpse, through an interstice caught, 
  • Of a crowd of workmen and drivers in a bar-room, around the stove, late of a winter
  • night—And I unremark’d seated in a corner; 
  • Of a youth who loves me, and whom I love, silently approaching, and seating himself
  • near, that he may hold me by the hand; 
  • A long while, amid the noises of coming and going--of drinking and oath and smutty
  • jest, 
  • There we two, content, happy in being together, speaking little, perhaps not a word.
  • A Farm Picture
  • THROUGH the ample open door of the peaceful country barn, 
  • A sun-lit pasture field, with cattle and horses feeding; 
  • And haze, and vista, and the far horizon, fading away.
Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was one of the premier poets of American verse, and one of the most influential poets in both American and world literature. One of the first poets to utilize free verse—poetry that employs neither a strict rhyme scheme nor a strict metrical or stanza pattern—Whitman serves as a prelude to modernist poets such as Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot. Whitman collected his poems in a single volume, Leaves of Grass, which celebrates humanity in all its forms and occupations, and also sang the praises of the unique contributions which American democracy and republicanism have made to human freedom and human dignity.

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