Thursday, November 6, 2008

Nature, Democracy and Walt Whitman

Last weekend I tried (for the umpteenth time) to read Whitman's "Leaves of Grass". No go. No success. Poetry bores me.

With nightfall coming sooner and temperatures dropping, we have more time in our tiny cabin. Time to read. Last night I read Walt Whitman's "Specimen Days". It's much like a blog; a collection of vignettes and travels. Certainly not polished--more like a journal.

An interesting read, what with recollections of nursing soldiers in the war between the States (I'd call it the Civil War--but how can war be civil?); his visits with Emerson and a visit to Walden and Thoreau's grave. The book's last vignette is called: "Nature and Democracy--Morality". Within that section I found this:

"American Democracy, in its myriad personalities, in factories, work-shops, stores, offices---through the dense streets and houses of cities, and all their manifold sophisticated life--must either be fibred, vitalized, by regular contact with out-door light and air and growths, farm-scenes, animals, fields, trees, birds, sun-warmth and free skies, or it will certainly dwindle and pale."

"Democracy (cannot) maintain itself at all, without the Nature-element forming a main part--to be its health-element and beauty element--to really underlie the whole politics, sanity, religion and art of the New World".

No comments: