Walt Whitman Every Week

NH Civil War Gal

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I'm going to post the Emerging Civil War, Walt Whitman Every Week series here:

https://emergingcivilwar.com/2020/10/31/not-a-trick-walt-whitman-every-week/#more-195972
In between doing the final edits for First Fallen, reviewing books, worrying about everything in general and nothing in particular, and petting cats, I have been noodling around with some ways of writing about American poet Walt Whitman. He is a problematic person. Some might find his gayness an issue; some may object to his Yankeeness or his part-time occupation as a wound dresser in Washington hospitals. However, he served both sides if there was a soldier on the operating table.


I will endeavor to share Whitman’s world with ECW readers. I will not only share his poetry, but there will also be some interesting and unusual interpretations of Whitman’s work which shed some light on the antebellum North, especially New York City. Although Whitman never served in the Union army, the American Civil War was the defining event of his life. He shared this with every soldier, every politician, every parent, sibling, and loved one who lived through the 1860s. There are reasons his verses are quoted so often in books about the Civil War. Readers may find some new favorites or remember to appreciate the old ones. If chapter quotes are the only familiarity a reader has with Whitman, prepare to be amazed. His words, his ideas, and his heart capture our nation during the Civil War in a way no one else ever has.


Once a week—that is my goal, anyway–a blog post will highlight some aspects of Whitman’s life. You will hear his voice. You will listen to other famous voices read his work. Pieces of artwork will be shared that complement the poetry. Music will enhance some of Whitman’s offerings. If you already love Walt Whitman, I hope this is pleasing. If you hate him, I hope it is enlightening. And if you are somewhere in between, or don’t know him—welcome to your weekly Walt Whitman.


WaltWhitman-Early1860s-661x1024.jpg
 

NH Civil War Gal

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https://emergingcivilwar.com/2020/11/08/weekly-whitman-ashes-of-soldiers/#more-195975
Whitman included this in his “Songs of Parting” collection. It was originally published in Drum-Taps in 1865 and can be found in earlier prose forms in an assortment of places. He did not only write about Union soldiers, although he is best known for his dedication to the men of the Federal Army.


Ashes of Soldiers


Ashes of soldiers South or North,
As I muse retrospective murmuring a chant in thought,
The war resumes, again to my sense your shapes,
And again the advance of the armies.


Noiseless as mists and vapors,
From their graves in the trenches ascending,
From cemeteries all through Virginia and Tennessee,
From every point of the compass out of the countless graves,
In wafted clouds, in myriads large, or squads of twos or threes or
single ones they come,
And silently gather round me.

Go to the link for the rest of the poem
 
Joined
Aug 2, 2019
Am I the only one having Bull Durham flashbacks here? "Does '“Limitless limpid jets of love hot and enormous — quivering jelly of love, white blow and delirious juice . . .' mean what I think it means?" Good movie, and a great scene.

I once gifted a college buddy with a Bull Durham gift basket for her wedding present - it had Leaves of Grass, a bottle of massage oil, rope, candles, a baseball, a couple of towels and a copy of the movie. I'd never met the groom before. I wonder what he thought?
 

NH Civil War Gal

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https://emergingcivilwar.com/2020/11/15/weekly-whitman-america/#more-196595



Weekly Whitman: “America”​


Posted on November 15, 2020 by Meg Groeling


Saving-History-Saturday-3.jpg

Walt Whitman himself reads this short poem, caught for posterity on a wax cylinder.

And here’s what a wax cylinder looks like:
edion-wax-cylinder-machine.jpg

An Edison wax cylinder machine
America[1]
Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear’d, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,
A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
Chair’d in the adamant of Time.


Source
[1] https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/53091/america-56d23215696b8

 

Stone in the wall

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https://emergingcivilwar.com/2020/11/15/weekly-whitman-america/#more-196595



Weekly Whitman: “America”​


Posted on November 15, 2020 by Meg Groeling


View attachment 381588
Walt Whitman himself reads this short poem, caught for posterity on a wax cylinder.

And here’s what a wax cylinder looks like:
View attachment 381589
An Edison wax cylinder machine
America[1]
Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear’d, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,
A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
Chair’d in the adamant of Time.


Source
[1] https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/53091/america-56d23215696b8

Out back in the shed I have an old Ediphone shaver for resurfacing the wax cylinders, and Lord knows what I'll ever do with it
 

A. Roy

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Here's an excerpt from a 1992 journal article about where this recording came from:

This cassette, it turns out, contained a recording of a radio broadcast of a program narrated by Leon Pearson, a well-known NBC newsman (and brother of Drew Pearson). The program was broadcast on NBC Radio in 1951, part of a series called "Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow." In the program, Pearson introduces the Whitman recording by saying that the cylinder, from the "remarkable Roscoe Haley Collection in New York," was badly damaged when NBC engineers received it, but that they were eventually able to retrieve the four lines of "America." Roscoe Haley, born in Tennessee in 1889, was an elevator operator who lived in New York City until his death in 1982; an eccentric collector, his Manhattan apartment was jammed full of recordings, books, and papers. Apparently, after the initial broadcast, Haley's Whitman recording faded into near-oblivion.

The article acknowledges that some researchers have questioned the authenticity of this recording. However, one Edison-cylinder expert argues:

What the audio technicians at the Library of Congress seem to have missed, in puzzling over the "superbly equalized" quality of this recording, is the fact that virtually all vertically cut Edison cylinders, as well as the vertically cut Edison "Diamond Disk" recordings of pre-World War I vintage, exhibit this superlative richness, balance, and freedom from distortion in the lower and middle portions of the audible spectrum. They sound like they've been perfectly equalized-but that's just the way they were cut, acoustically .... The near-perfect equalization was inherent in the Edison process .... Every collector knows that Edison's vertical cut process allowed him to make recordings which were literally 30 years ahead of their time. We hear them today, and we're simply dumbfounded to realize that sound so clean could have been laid down at the turn of the century, using a completely non-electrical process.

The same expert makes a linguistic argument in favor of the recording's authenticity:

It exhibits a quaint and subtle regional inflection -a soft mix of Tidewater Atlantic and an Adirondack dilution of the contemporary New York accent-which has quite literally disappeared in our age. No one speaks this way any more. The notion that someone might have set out to imitate such a subtle and nuanced archaic inflection strains credibility just a bit.

(Ed Folsom. The Whitman Recording. Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, Vol 9, No 4, 1992. Pages 214-215.)

https://ir.uiowa.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1340&context=wwqr
Roy B.
 

Stone in the wall

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Hmm, that's hard to imagine. Although, I would bet that there are hobbyists out there who are dedicated to making wax cylinder recordings.

Roy B.
The cylinders are in pretty bad shape, and the shaver has a lot of surface rust. It's packed in behind a bunch of Model A ford parts.I don't have the playing devise.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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http://emergingcivilwar.com/2020/11/22/weekly-whitman-by-the-bivouacs-fearful-flame/#more-196681

Weekly Whitman: “By the Bivouac’s Fearful Flame”​


Posted on November 22, 2020 by Meg Groeling


Saving-History-Saturday-3.jpg

By the bivouac’s fitful flame,
A procession winding around me, solemn and sweet and slow—but first I note,
The tents of the sleeping army, the fields’ and woods’ dim outline,
The darkness lit by spots of kindled fire, the silence,
Like a phantom far or near an occasional figure moving,
The shrubs and trees, (as I lift my eyes they seem to be stealthily watching me,)
While wind in procession thoughts, O tender and wondrous thoughts,
Of life and death, of home and the past and loved, and of those that are far away;
A solemn and slow procession there as I sit on the ground,
By the bivouac’s fitful flame.


49513.jpg

Detail from “A Bivouac Fire on the Potomac,” Harper’s Weekly, Dec. 21, 1861, p. 808-809

 

NH Civil War Gal

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http://emergingcivilwar.com/2020/11/22/weekly-whitman-by-the-bivouacs-fearful-flame/#more-196681

Weekly Whitman: “By the Bivouac’s Fearful Flame”​


Posted on November 22, 2020 by Meg Groeling


Saving-History-Saturday-3.jpg

By the bivouac’s fitful flame,
A procession winding around me, solemn and sweet and slow—but first I note,
The tents of the sleeping army, the fields’ and woods’ dim outline,
The darkness lit by spots of kindled fire, the silence,
Like a phantom far or near an occasional figure moving,
The shrubs and trees, (as I lift my eyes they seem to be stealthily watching me,)
While wind in procession thoughts, O tender and wondrous thoughts,
Of life and death, of home and the past and loved, and of those that are far away;
A solemn and slow procession there as I sit on the ground,
By the bivouac’s fitful flame.

49513.jpg

Detail from “A Bivouac Fire on the Potomac,” Harper’s Weekly, Dec. 21, 1861, p. 808-809

 

John Hartwell

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The Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site on Long Island offers an awesome series of interpretive and educational programs, including readings, tours, seminars, and lectures. Much to see and do.

Hours of Whitman-related videos from the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association (WWBA) at:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9DgJ6frgKbvBhToZsBn64A
 
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