Leaving the M/Other: Whitman, Kristeva, and Leaves of Grass

Leaving the M/Other: Whitman, Kristeva, and Leaves of Grass

Leaving the M/Other: Whitman, Kristeva, and Leaves of Grass

Leaving the M/Other: Whitman, Kristeva, and Leaves of Grass

Synopsis

"Leaving the M/other: Whitman, Kristeva, and Leaves of Grass traces the integral role of the "mother" throughout Whitman's canon. The text demonstrates that redefining "mother" allows for a more nuanced reading of the maternal presence in the successive editions of Leaves of Grass. Beth Jensen's analysis suggests that limiting "mother" to "biological mother" or even to "female" is too restrictive since Whitman's "mother" seldom appears as either. Leaving the M/other develops a striking parallel between Whitman's poetry and Kristeva's theory with close readings of poems published from 1855 to 1881. At the root of the analysis is the metaphor of the ocean." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

1855

You sea! I resign myself to you also.… I guess what you mean,
I behold from the beach your crooked inviting fingers,
I believe you refuse to go back without feeling of me;
We must have a turn together.… I undress.… hurry me out
of sight of land,
Cushion me soft rock.… me in billowy drowse,
Dash me with amorous wet.… I can repay you.

—[Song of Myself]

1860

Ebb, ocean of life, (the flow will return,)
Cease not your moaning, you fierce old mother,
Endlessly cry for your castaways—but fear not, deny not me,
Rustle not up so hoarse and angry against my feet, as I touch
you, or gather from you.

Me and mine!
We, loose winrows, little corpses,
Froth, snowy white and bubbles,
(See! from my dead lips the ooze exuding at last!
See—the prismatic colors, glistening and rolling!)
Tufts of straw, sands, fragments,
Buoyed hither

—[As I Ebb'd with the Ocean of Life]

1867

Dark Mother, always gliding near, with soft feet,
Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome?
Then I chant it for thee—I glorify thee above all;

Lost in the loving, floating ocean of thee,
Laved in the flood of thy bliss, O Death,

—[When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd]

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