#21: Starting from Paumanok

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Happy New Year, friends! (Even though we are already halfway through January – how is that possible?) I have been in the midsts of a busy tax season & new semester at school, so things have been hectic, to say the least. But I have been reading a lot and still have so many things I want to think about with you, so I thought the easiest way to ease back into writing regularly is with a Whitman Wednesday post. Today, we start on Book II of Leaves of Grass. The first poem here, “Starting from Paumanok” is really long, 19 pieces, so here’s just the first part.

Starting from fish-shape Paumanok where I was born,
  Well-begotten, and rais'd by a perfect mother,
  After roaming many lands, lover of populous pavements,
  Dweller in Mannahatta my city, or on southern savannas,
  Or a soldier camp'd or carrying my knapsack and gun, or a miner
      in California,
  Or rude in my home in Dakota's woods, my diet meat, my drink from
      the spring,
  Or withdrawn to muse and meditate in some deep recess,
  Far from the clank of crowds intervals passing rapt and happy,
  Aware of the fresh free giver the flowing Missouri, aware of
      mighty Niagara,
  Aware of the buffalo herds grazing the plains, the hirsute and
      strong-breasted bull,
  Of earth, rocks, Fifth-month flowers experienced, stars, rain, snow,
      my amaze,
  Having studied the mocking-bird's tones and the flight of the
      mountain-hawk,
  And heard at dawn the unrivall'd one, the hermit thrush from the
      swamp-cedars,
  Solitary, singing in the West, I strike up for a New World.

Do you remember discovering where Whitman was born? (He lived in Long Island, if you forgot!) Here, I think he’s venturing out of his fish-shaped home (do you think Long Island looks like a little fish attached to New York State?) and he’s discovering the rest of America, from Manhattan to North Dakota.

I think this is a great poem to think about as I start the new year. I have been in such a rush to meet deadlines at school and work, that I haven’t taken any time to withdraw “to muse and meditate in some deep recess” which is honestly all I want to do every December. I have been reading “White Trash” right now, which is a 400 year history of class in America, so I’ve found myself thinking a lot about what life was like in the 18th and 19th century. I have been questioning whether our current idea of growing up in a log cabin is actually quaint and completely false. But I digress. After an insane 2016, this poem has instilled in me a renewed sense of hope, exploration, and curiosity as we strike up for a New Year.

How about you? What are your New Year resolutions? What are you reading? Please tell me everything since we last spoke.

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5 thoughts on “#21: Starting from Paumanok

  1. Greetings and happy new year. This poem makes me want to go out and explore in the world so I think I will in a couple of months, its as easy as that I guess. Interesting that you are reading White Trash, I am have gone for the brilliant Tally’s Corner, which I recommend if you want something with narrower focus but with wide ranging observations on life.

    • Tally’s Corner sounds like it covers exactly what I’m currently interested in. I will have to pick it up next. If you also read White Trash, we can swap notes on both afterwards!

      Yes, Happy New Year! This poem had me feeling refreshed for a whole day before being exhausted again. I suppose that is another reason why we should read poetry more regularly… to be constantly refreshing ourselves. I have been so bad about posting regularly, but hopefully I can get back to it soon! Hope you’re well. 🙂

      • I think I stole your posting powers as I have been on it this year in a good way so far. I m indeed well, flying through the books and having more sent to me so it really is a good start to the year. I know you will be back to posting ways when you can and I look forward to it and reading poetry of course!

        I shall see if I can hunt down a cheap copy of White Trash, always up for some note swapping!

  2. Pingback: #21.2 Starting from Paumanok, verse 2 | Like Bears to Honey

  3. Pingback: #21.4 Starting from Paumanok, verse 6 | Like Bears to Honey

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