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Earth, My Likeness: Nature Poetry of Walt Whitman
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Earth, My Likeness: Nature Poetry of Walt Whitman

by Walt Whitman, Howard Nelson (Editor)
 

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Walt Whitman's poetry expresses an earthy sensuality out of sync with the industrial times he lived in. His love of wild nature and the sensual experiences of life are heard in every poem. Editor Howard Nelson provides an insightful introduction, shedding light on Walt Whitman's life. This carefully selected collection of poems alongside the beauty of Rod MacIver's

Overview

Walt Whitman's poetry expresses an earthy sensuality out of sync with the industrial times he lived in. His love of wild nature and the sensual experiences of life are heard in every poem. Editor Howard Nelson provides an insightful introduction, shedding light on Walt Whitman's life. This carefully selected collection of poems alongside the beauty of Rod MacIver's watercolor art creates a grand tribute to this beautiful soul.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Generations of readers have turned to Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass for its nature poetry. Now Howard Nelson has given us, in one slim volume, the best of Whitman’s nature writing. Nelson’s superb selection includes prose and poetry, both soaring rhetoric (‘I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars’) and a quietly delightful diary entry about an ‘Adamic air-bath’ on the banks of Timber Creek. Rod MacIver’s fresh, deft watercolors are a perfect match for Whitman’s ‘spontaneous me.’” 
—Michael Robertson, author of Worshipping Walt: The Whitman Disciples

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781933937021
Publisher:
Heron Dance Press
Publication date:
04/28/2005
Edition description:
Illustrate
Pages:
133
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

From the introduction to the new edition:
Thinking back at the end of his life to Emerson's attempt to persuade him to take some of the sex out of Leaves of Grass, Whitman said, "if I had cut sex out I might just as well have cut everything out." The sex in his poetry is not located in just a few poems; it suffuses much more than an erotic or taboo poem here and there. When Whitman wrote about sex, he often wrote about it in terms of the natural world, and when he wrote about the natural world, he often wrote about it in terms of sexual intimacy and pleasure. The poems "Spontaneous Me" and "These I Singing in Spring" are perhaps the premier examples; no other walks in the woods in literature are quite like them. Eros and nature are richly tangled in a wet, lush bouquet. Whitman does not want us to separate them. The Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins probably comes closest to this effect, though his idea was that it is Christ and nature that are entangled. Hopkins said about Whitman, "I always knew in my heart Walt Whitman's mind to be more like my own than any other man's living. As he is a great scoundrel this is not a pleasant confession." Hopkins too recognized something wild, elemental, pre-Christian, in Whitman.

A selection:
Thoughts Under An Oak - A Dream
This is the fourth day of a dark northeast storm, wind and rain. Day before yesterday was my birthday. I have now entered on my 6oth year. Every day of the storm, protected by overshoes and a waterproof blanket, I regu larly come down to the pond, and ensconce myself under the lee of the great oak; I am here now writing these lines. The dark smoke-colored clouds roll in furious silence athwart the sky; the softgreen leaves dangle all round me; the wind steadily keeps up its hoarse, soothing music over my head - Nature's mighty whisper. Seated here in solitude I have been musing over my life - connecting events, dates, as links of a chain, neither sadly nor cheer ily, but somehow, today here under the oak, in the rain, in an unusually matter-of-fact spirit. But my great oak- sturdy, vital, green -five feet thick at the butt; I sit a great deal near or under him. Then the tulip tree near by- the Apollo of the woods - tall and graceful, yet robust and sinewy, inimitable in hang of foliage and throwing-out of limb; as if the beauteous, vital, leafy creature could walk, if it only would. (I had a sort of dream-trance the other day, in which I saw my favorite trees step out and promenade up, down and around, very curiously - with a whisper from one, leaning down as he passed me, "We do all this on the present occasion, exceptionally, just for you.") - Walt Whitman, "Specimen Days"

Meet the Author

Walt Whitman (author) was indeed a wild soul. His poetry expresses an earthy sensuality out of sync with the industrial times he lived in. His love for wild nature and for the sensual experiences of life is heard in every poem. Editor, Howard Nelson, provides an insightful introduction, shedding light on Walt Whitman's life. This carefully selected collection of poems alongside the beauty of Roderick MacIver's watercolor art creates a grand tribute to this beautiful soul.

Howard Nelson (editor), author and Whitman scholar, has prepared this new, expanded edition to his previous chapbook, Earth, My Likeness. His earlier book was popular with Heron Dance readers, but Howard felt that much of Whitman's most powerful nature poetry had been left out. He's prepared this more complete edition, and the new edition also includes watercolors by Heron Dance artist Rod MacIver. Howard Nelson is the author of Robert Bly: An Introduction to the Poetry, editor of On the Poetry of Galway Kinnell: The Wages of Dying, and is a widely published poet. He was a contributor to Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia.Howard's first, abbreviated edition (28 pages) was very popular with Heron Dance readers. He has now prepared a new edition of Earth, My Likeness with five or six times the number of poems and essay excerpts. The new edition is 144 pages.

Artist Roderick MacIver (illustrator) founded Heron Dance in 1995 to celebrate the seeker's journey and the spirit and beauty of all that is wild. His words and his watercolors are inspired by a love of wild places and the peace and rhythm he finds there.

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