Wednesday, May 16, 2012


it's been fun!
wish the class was tuesday/thursday, but what can you do.
good discussion.
good times.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


NO! Not that guy!!! Although that would make for a good Woody Guthrie music video, no? Actually no....

Let me start off by saying that this is exactly the type of music I picture Walt listening to as he is loafing away in the some green pasture.

Music and poetry are very similar.  Lyrics to music are just poems put to a tune.  I remember reading an interview, and I can't what artist said it, but they said they liked to write poetry and decided to give a shot at writing lyrics for a band.  So really they are one in the same.

If you look at Woody's lyrics, without listening to the song it could be considered free verse just like Walt!  But I read through the two songs and I was a little bored.  The lyrics are very simple by themselves.  Put it to a tune though, and the words definitely pop.  Take the line "and your deserts were hot and your mountains were cold" for example, the mix of the harmonica and banjo allow those words to have more of a meaning that just hot and cold weather.  Also's Woody's voice gives the line a certain melody that emphasizes certain words and syllables that also gives more meaning.  In this case, probably just for the melody and tune, he elongates the word cold as the tune goes along.  This emphasizes the hardship the individual went through to travel.

"This Land is Your Land" reminds me of the Preface to LEAVES OF GRASS.  As an artist, Woody could be considered a poet and in the Preface, Walt says, "The American poets are to enclose old and new for America is the race of races.  Of them a bard is to be commensurate with a people.  To him the other continents arrive as contributions...he gives them reception for their sake and his own sake.  His spirit responds to his country's spirit...he incarnates its geography and natural life and rivers and lakes."  He might be talking about the poets, but I as I've said, poets and singers/lyricists are one in the same.

Ok just a little note...
I waaaaaaas going to do the Coen bros post and The Big Lebowski is definitely a favorite, but for some reason I went for Woody.  Sooooooo, I end my post with some wise words from THE DUDE!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hey there, Allen!

There are many similarities between Allen and Walt.  Rightly so since I read that Allen wanted to be the poet to continue Walt's voice.  First off, the very obvious similarity would be that they both use the free verse form.  Allen's use of free verse seems more like paragraph prose though.  In Part I, the listing of the types of individuals in which he starts with who, are so descriptive and long.  Speaking of the "who", the individuals Allen speaks of, reminds me of Song for Occupations in which Walt lists all the types of jobs he is familiar with.  Not only are both these poets using this form of free verse, but they love lists.  They are listing people/jobs that they are familiar with.  If you really think about it, these are the jobs and people of America.  These are the real people, not just images of what America could be or should, but I think their image of the America person is a reality and shows a vulnerability, especially Allen's description.

Now I'm not sure if this is a similarity or difference, especially because of all the changes Walt made through his different editions of Leaves of Grass.  The way that both poets are trying to get their message across, the words they use, the things they describe are not censored, especially Allen.  The only reason I would think there is a difference is because Walt took multiple lines about people of color out from Song of Occupations as the editions of Leaves of Grass was published.  It doesn't seem like Allen did this, but I haven't researched that.  However, he does not feel the need to censor himself.  Instead he lets it all hang out.  He says, "who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists" and "...a vision of ultimate cunt and come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness" and "with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, and alcohol and cock and endless balls."  Speak on Allen! Say what you gotta say!  He definitely could have used less explicit words, but fuck it, those are the words that he needed to use to get his point across.  Yes, they both wrote in COMPLETELY different times, but then tell me why Walt removed those parts about colored people.  I think he was censoring himself.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Well, I'm glad I read about the Hawks Nest Tunnel Disaster prior to reading the poem or else I would haven't known about that.  That being said, the speaker of the poem, it seems, is trying to steer the reader in a certain direction.  Just looking at the first five stanzas, there is a lot of talk about roads, cities, places to go, things to do, as if the speaker is telling the reader where to go, what to do.  Knowing about the Hawks Nest Tunnel Disaster it makes perfect sense.  Muriel specifically says, "This is a nation's scene and a halfway house."  She calls it a halfway house!  She uses the word "you" and "your" a few times in the first five stanzas as well.  I think this establishes a relationship that says that the speaker is speaking for the reader, as if it were the reader's own thoughts.  Or maybe the speaker is going so far as to persuading the reader that this is what they are thinking by saying "you" and "your."  Unlike Walt's poem, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd", Murile uses the words "we" and "us."  Walt uses the word "I" a lot, thus separating the speaker and the reader.  The ending of Muriel's poem seems pretty positive considering that one stanza that goes, "all these men cry their doom across the world, meeting avoidable death, fight against madness, find every war."  She uses words such as open, desire, beginning, and ends the poem with unending love.  I think this speaks to some sort of feeling of regeneration or at least that one can occur if people are open to it.  Interesting how this poem is about the Hawks Nest Tunnel Disaster when just about a year later World War II happens.  I think you could almost read parts of this poem as a WWII poem.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What am I going to do?!

Since I have decided to pursue the changes Walt has changed throughout the different editions of Leaves of Grass, I'm going to have to do more research.  I've decided to stick with the poem Song for Occupations since I am familiar with that, and I also really liked it.  Some questions that I have in mind that I would like to find the answer to, how much influence did publishers have on Walt?  Did he really want to make all those changes?  And for what purposes were those changes made?  There will never be a set answer just because I can't ask Walt himself, unless a Oiji board really does work and will allow for a long explanation.  But I think the research would be quite interesting.  I would obviously read more Specimen Days posts as well as do more research on America at that time and the publishers.  I'm sure Walt did what he wanted with his poems but at the same time you can't help but think his readers influenced him somewhat.

Now, the main question. How am I going to present this?!  There are two ways that I was thinking about, a story or a set of poems.

For the story, I was going to write a narrative with either a reader during Walt's time or a publisher.  If these people read Leaves of Grass in the 1860's and saw the changes right then and there, what was their reaction and even interaction with other people and Walt himself!  That is more of a creative writing assignment, one in which fiction would come into play.

The second being a set of poems.  I'm not much of a poem writer but have been writing silly ones with a friend of mine.  I thought that maybe I could do the opposite of Walt.  He was so into free verse, no constraints!  I could present evidence through poems with some sort of rhyme and meter.  I have never really done anything like this before, unless you consider rhyming cat and hat and bat and mat in high school.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Project to Develop

I have decided that I would like to develop the project in which we tracked the poem Song for Occupations throughout the different editions of Leaves of Grass.  Maybe I could track more than just Song for Occupations and come up with my own conclusion as to why Walt made these changes.  There are so many reasons as to why he made changes.  Was it the publishers?  Was it his own personal views? Was it that America was changing and so were the people reading his poems?  Why couldn't he just leave it the way it was?  I would have to figure which poems I would be tracking and do additional research about the questions that have been asked.  I think it would be wise of me to use the Whitman archives website as well as Specimen Days.  The thing about this is that no one will ever know the real reason, but then again that is the fun part! Speculate and come up with my own hypothesis!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

America's Characteristic Landscape

This Specimen Days post has the word LOAFER written all over it!  He calls great sights such as Yosemite, Niagara falls, and Yellowstone "great natural shows."  They aren't just landscapes, they are shows.  They provide entertainment to see.  An individual could just stare out into the landscape and experience something.  I think that is a big part of loafing, experiencing your surroundings without having to do anything but relax and watch.

I think he says that the landscape is changing, that the future destiny of these landscapes are for farms, they will no longer have the scenery of Yosemite or Yellowstone.  They will be taken over by "maize, wool, flax, coal, iron..."  At the end of the post he says that the prairies will remain with him. Maybe it is that he will forever remember their beauty and that farms cannot destroy his image of the beautiful scenery.  Either way, I think he is talking about the changes in America, the way it is becoming more materialistic.  He is talking about people's need for "things" but he will not forget that "their simplest statistics are sublime."