Tuesday, February 14, 2012

specimen days

In reading Whitman I find his appreciation of nature to be the most interesting facet of his writing. The posts in specimen days dedicated to the natual world seem to trace a pattern in American writing which express complete veneration toward the American landscape. In this sense Whitman's work contains favourable echo's of Emerson, and indeed informs a lot of beat literature which I have read.

These influences are especially pertinent in his short ode to Entering A long Farm Lane, which lends the sense of overwhelming joy at what one suspects is a fairly routine portrait of the American landscape. It begins, "As every man has his hobby-liking, mine is for a real farm-lane fenced by old chestnut-rails." The short piece continues to establish the details of Whitman's 'hobby,' and as each detail of the scenery is listed off one could be forgiven for feeling as if we are embarking on a quaint stroll through the countryside with Walt.

It is the term 'hobby' which Whitman applies to this elegant description of the long farm lane. He starts by measuring it against other men's hobbies, and thereby demonstrates the implicit notion that his hobby is in fact the world around him. Whitman's xbox is the portrait of a forgotten monument, his amateur dramatics performed in the theatre of a curious forest. His hobby does not detatch himself from life, rather it is life.

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