Or a soldier camp'd or carrying my knapsack and gun, or a miner
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Or withdrawn to muse and meditate in some deep recess,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
Aware of the buffalo herds grazing the plains, the hirsute and
Of earth, rocks, Fifth-month flowers experienced, stars, rain,
snow, my amaze,
Having studied the mocking-bird's tones and the flight of the
And heard at dawn the unrivall'd one, the hermit thrush from the
Solitary, singing in the West, I strike up for a New World.
"Biography soars [indeed] into mythology" in these lines. And we might
adopt Borges's descriptive phrase as a summary definition of that new
American form, the lyric-epic, which was the legacy Whitman left for
American "poets to come"--as they too "strike up for a New World."
Howard Moss, "A Candidate for the Future," The New Yorker, 14 Sept. 1981, 184.
Walt Whitman, Complete Poetry and Prose, ed.
James E. Miller, Jr. ( Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1959), p. 449. Further quotations from Whitman will be from
this edition and cited parenthetically in the text.
Edgar Allan Poe, Literary Criticism of Edgar Allan Poe, ed.
Robert L. Hough ( Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1965), pp. 22-23.
Terry Eagleton, Marxism and Literary Criticism ( Berkeley: University of California
Press, 1976), p. 24.
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, trans.
James Strachey ( New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1961), pp. 49-50.
Ezra Pound, "Patria Mia," in Selected Prose: 1909-1965, ed.
( New York: New Directions, 1973), p. 124.
Donald Davie, Review of John Berryman, The Freedom of the Poet, The New York
Times Book Review, 25 April 1976, p. 4.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Poems in Their Place:The Intertextuality and Order of Poetic Collections.
Contributors: Neil Fraistat - Editor.
Publisher: University of North Carolina Press.
Place of publication: Chapel Hill, NC.
Publication year: 1986.
Page number: 306.
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