Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Specimen Days: "BROADWAY SIGHTS"

This entry really puts Whitman in a historical context as he references all the famous people he has encountered on Broadway. I especially love the thought of Whitman having a nice chat with Poe. I found an interesting tidbit from a Poe blog about Whitman publishing (and possibly writing) a parody of "The Raven" in his newspaper, "A Jig in Prose":

"Once upon a evening dreary, while I pondered lone and
weary--o'er many an olden paper, reading forgotten stories o'er;
suddenly I heard a curious, lonely, ghostly, strange, mysterious
grating, underneath the floor! "'Tis some little mouse, I
muttered, underneath the office floor--and nothing more. And
again I trimmed the taper--and once more resumed my
paper--aged, forsaken, unique paper--poring its ancient
contents o'er; when again I heard repeated, this same
mysterious grating, but much louder than before--and it seemed
like someone sawing wood beneath the office floor; 'tis no
mouse thought I, but more. As I listened, each particular hair
stood upright perpendicular--cold, outstanding drops orbicular
soon my forehead o'er--while a strange mysterious terror, filled
my soul with fear and horror, such as I never felt before; much I
wondered what this curious grating meant beneath the floor!
Thus I sat and eyed the floor. And thus watching, gazing
pondering, trembling, doubting, tearing, wondering, suddenly
the wall was sundered, as for Banquo's ghost of yore--and while
gazing much astounded, there--from there bounded a huge rat
upon the floor! Not the least obeisance made he, but a moment
stopped and stayed he, and nothing more. And, while gazing at
each other, suddenly out came another--somewhat greyer than
the other, with the weight of years he bore; then with
imprecations dire, I raised my boot and higher, a step advancing
nigher, whirled it safe across the floor; but the little imps had
scattered, and the door was bruised and battered, that it hit and
nothing more!"

In spite of all the celebrity sightings, Whitman still concerns himself with "the hurrying and vast amplitude of those never-ending human currents" which inspire so much of "Song of Myself."


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