Walt Whitman Every Week

NH Civil War Gal

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https://emergingcivilwar.com/2021/04/11/weekly-whitman-old-ireland/#more-200233

Written in 1861, this poem makes special mention of the Union volunteers who lived in New York City. The Irish Diaspora had been bringing the Irish to the shores of America since the 1840s. The Civil War, twenty years later, made no dent in the number of immigrants arriving with each international ship. Irishmen signed up to serve the Union in droves in ’60-61.


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The fabled green flag of the 69th New York



Old Ireland


Far hence, amid an isle of wondrous beauty,


Crouching over a grave, an ancient sorrowful mo-
ther,


Once a queen—now lean and tattered, seated on the
ground,
 

John Hartwell

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"The Poor Old Woman" (An tSean bhean Bhocht, pronounced 'An Shan Van Vocht') is a favorite poetic personification of Ireland. She's sometimes named Fódla, Ériu, and most popularly Kathleen Ni Houlihan: simultaneously ancient and mourning, and youthful and full of hope.

Whitman was doubtless familiar with "The Shan Van Vocht," a revolutionary song popular among Irish immigrants of the period. Irish memory is long, children were raised on stories of past glory, which were never forgotten, nor were the tales of wrongs suffered. Traditionally, the Irish have a particularly strong connection with their mothers, and strongest of all with "Mother Ireland."
 
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NH Civil War Gal

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Traditionally, the Irish have a particularly strong connection with their mothers, and strongest of all with "Mother Ireland."
And that explains why they used to say “Holy Mother Church” and no other Catholic Group uses that reference. Thank you John!
 

Fairfield

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And that explains why they used to say “Holy Mother Church” and no other Catholic Group uses that reference. Thank you John!
The expression "Mother Church," IMO goes back to the New Testament (Acts and Ephesians). In Anglo-Saxon England the term referred to the principal parish church. Cervantes used the term. It seems to me that it is likely that the Irish picked up on an expression already in use.
 

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The expression "Mother Church," IMO goes back to the New Testament (Acts and Ephesians). In Anglo-Saxon England the term referred to the principal parish church. Cervantes used the term. It seems to me that it is likely that the Irish picked up on an expression already in use.
I didn’t know that!
 

NH Civil War Gal

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I’ve heard “mother church” before (just to clarify) but I’ve only heard the term “Holy Mother Church” from the Irish.
 

Fairfield

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I’ve heard “mother church” before (just to clarify) but I’ve only heard the term “Holy Mother Church” from the Irish.
But there is a church in Santa Fe, est. 1625) that is officially "Our Lady of La Conquistadora" but commonly called "the Holy Mother Church".

I think that the Roman Catholic church--as a whole--is called "the Holy Mother Church" in reaction to other Catholic churches (Eastern Orthodox, Jacobite, Melcanite, Coptic etc.)
 

NH Civil War Gal

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But there is a church in Santa Fe, est. 1625) that is officially "Our Lady of La Conquistadora" but commonly called "the Holy Mother Church".

I think that the Roman Catholic church--as a whole--is called "the Holy Mother Church" in reaction to other Catholic churches (Eastern Orthodox, Jacobite, Melcanite, Coptic etc.)
I’m very impressed with this and have learned something new! Thank you 😊!
 

bayouace

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Not disputing anything here, but adding that I live in South Louisiana and, unless changed now, when a Catholic decided to attend another Catholic church in the immediate area in which their home was located, all the offering they contributed to the new church went back to their Mother Church.
 

John Hartwell

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Not disputing anything here, but adding that I live in South Louisiana and, unless changed now, when a Catholic decided to attend another Catholic church in the immediate area in which their home was located, all the offering they contributed to the new church went back to their Mother Church.
Yes, that's a different usage. To many Irish, the Holy Mother Church refers to the Catholic Church as a whole, not a particular parish .. except for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which specifically is referred to as the Holy Mother Church. The use of the phrase is fading away, rather old fashioned today.
 

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http://emergingcivilwar.com/2021/04...n-the-death-of-president-lincoln/#more-200288

April 16, ’65.—I FIND in my notes of the time, this passage on the death of Abraham Lincoln: He leaves for America’s history and biography, so far, not only its most dramatic reminiscence—he leaves, in my opinion, the greatest, best, most characteristic, artistic, moral personality. Not but that he had faults, and show’d them in the Presidency; but honesty, goodness, shrewdness, conscience, and (a new virtue, unknown to other lands, and hardly yet really known here, but the foundation and tie of all, as the future will grandly develop,) UNIONISM, in its truest and amplest sense, form’d the hard-pan of his character. These he seal’d with his life. The tragic splendor of his death, purging, illuminating all, throws round his form, his head, an aureole that will remain and will grow brighter through time, while history lives, and love of country lasts. By many has this Union been help’d; but if one name, one man, must be pick’d out, he, most of all, is the conservator of it, to the future. He was assassinated—but the Union is not assassinated—ca ira! One falls, and another falls. The soldier drops, sinks like a wave—but the ranks of the ocean eternally press on. Death does its work, obliterates literates a hundred, a thousand—President, general, captain, private—but the Nation is immortal.


Lincoln_Death.jpg
 

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http://emergingcivilwar.com/2021/04...lacs-last-in-the-dooryard-bloomd/#more-200557

As I wandered through the gardens of Colonial Williamsburg last weekend, a blooming lilac bush caught my eye and some Whitman poetry came to mind. I asked Miss Meg if I could take over her column for the week to share both with our readers.


In April 1865, Walt Whitman was devastated by President Lincoln’s death, and to write through his emotions, he penned several poetic eulogies, including this one. “When Lilacs” has been recognized as a public poem about private mourning and and explores symbolism of mourning. For Whitman, Lincoln’s death seems to represent and give focus to the other individual mournings as people across the nation dealt with loss caused by the Civil War. It is a lengthy poem, but worth considering in-depth.


When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d


1
When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.


Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.


2
O powerful western fallen star!
O shades of night—O moody, tearful night!
O great star disappear’d—O the black murk that hides the star!
O cruel hands that hold me powerless—O helpless soul of me!
O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul.
 

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https://emergingcivilwar.com/2021/05/02/weekly-whitman-eighteen-sixty-one/#more-200808

This is the second piece of poetry in Whitman’s collection Drum Taps which was inspired by his Civil War experiences.





Eighteen Sixty-One


Arm’d year—year of the struggle,
No dainty rhymes or sentimental love verses for you terrible year,
Not you as some pale poetling seated at a desk lisping cadenzas
piano,

But as a strong man erect, clothed in blue clothes, advancing,
carrying a rifle on your shoulder,

With well-gristled body and sunburnt face and hands, with a knife in
the belt at your side,

As I heard you shouting loud, your sonorous voice ringing across the
continent,

Your masculine voice O year, as rising amid the great cities,
Amid the men of Manhattan I saw you as one of the workmen, the
dwellers in Manhattan,

Or with large steps crossing the prairies out of Illinois and
Indiana,

Rapidly crossing the West with springy gait and descending the
Alleghanies,

Or down from the great lakes or in Pennsylvania, or on deck along the
Ohio river,

Or southward along the Tennessee or Cumberland rivers, or at
Chattanooga on the mountain top,

Saw I your gait and saw I your sinewy limbs clothed in blue, bearing
weapons, robust year,

Heard your determin’d voice launch’d forth again and again,
Year that suddenly sang by the mouths of the round-lipp’d cannon,
I repeat you, hurrying, crashing, sad, distracted year.
 

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There was a suspension in Whitman every Sunday because I just found out that Meg Goeling, who writes them, has cancer (she made it public), but has since felt able to come back and write them again.

This poem is about the camps and the soldiers after learning about Lincoln's death.

Hush’d Be the Camps Today


Hush’d be the camps today,
And soldiers let us drape our war-worn weapons,
And each with musing soul retire to celebrate,
Our dear commander’s death.


No more for him life’s stormy conflicts,
Nor victory, nor defeat–no more time’s dark events,
Charging like ceaseless clouds across the sky.


But sing poet in our name,
Sing of the love we bore him–because you, dweller in camps, know it truly.


As they invault the coffin there,
Sing–as they close the doors of earth upon him–one verse,
For the heavy hearts of soldiers.


union.jpg

Union Army camp near the end of the war
 

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Emerging Civil War has featured “When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom’d” many times over our ten-year history. It is a favorite of many of our writers and has been printed several times already. It can be found here, as well as other places on the web. Rather than reprint the poem, I thought I would discuss its context.


It follows the train–dubbed the Lincoln Funeral Train–as it chugs back across an almost identical route–the one taken four and a half years ago by the Lincoln Inaugural Express. The train bears President Abraham Lincoln’s remains as well as those of his young son Willie. Lincoln is referred to as a “powerful western falling star,” mourned at the return of every spring. But, as birds and flowers return every spring, Lincoln will not. “Day and night journeys a coffin.”


The scenery of northwestern America is described: “lanes and streets . . . crepe-veil’d women standing.” The poet offers a single sprig of lilac as a stand-in for all the mourning the train will pass in its journey to Springfield, Illinois. Death is given many lines–its inevitableness, its finality–“all over bouquets of roses.”


Finally, Whitman comes to the Civil War. All the death he has seen, all the deaths Lincoln has imagined, Whitman weaves them together “Lilac and star and bird twined with the chant of my soul.” The funeral train honors all those deaths as it brings Lincoln back to Springfield. Many versions of this poem are done as music–sort of funeral dirges or part of a requiem mass. Look some up, read phrases aloud to yourself. Whitman is a powerful voice for his time and for ours.


lincoln-funeral-car-loc.jpg


From Tina - I think what is interesting, from a 160 year perspective, is the pose of the man leaning on the train with his leg crossed. I think now we would see that has disrespectful - too casual - but back then it was a standard photography pose. What do you think?
 

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https://emergingcivilwar.com/2021/08/01/weekly-whitman-a-postage-stamp/

"A few weeks ago, I got an email from a Weekly Whitman reader who shall remain nameless because I have lost the email somewhere between my phone and the desktop. He asked me if I had seen the Walt Whitman stamp. Well no—I had not, but it only took minutes before I had it on my screen, and another few minutes after that for me to have it ordered. It is my pleasure to share it here. And if you are reading this now, good sir, please respond and claim the credit."


The Post Office tells us: On September 12, 2019, in Huntington Station, NY, the United States Postal Service issued the Walt Whitman stamp in one design, in a pressure-sensitive adhesive pane of 20 stamps. With this stamp, the 32nd issue in the Literary Arts series, the Postal Service honors poet Walt Whitman (1819–1892) on the bicentennial of his birth. The stamp features a portrait of Whitman based on a photograph taken by Frank Pearsall in 1869. In the background, a hermit thrush sitting on the branch of a lilac bush recalls “When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom‘d,” an elegy for President Abraham Lincoln written by Whitman soon after Lincoln‘s assassination on April 14, 1865. The artist for the stamp was Sam Weber. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamp. The words “THREE OUNCE” on this stamp indicate its usage value. Like a Forever®​ stamp, this stamp will always be valid for the rate printed on it.

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