Montag, 26. März 2012

The Solitary Singer

When I read the book, the biography famous, 
And is this then (said I) what the author calls a man's life? 
And so will some one when I am dead and gone write my life?
(As if any man really knew aught of my life, 
Why even I myself I often think know little or nothing of my real life, 
 Only a few hints, a few diffused faint clews and indirections 
 I seek for my own use to trace out here.)

Der amerikanische Dichter Walt Whitman starb heute vor 120 Jahren. Als er starb, war Herman Melville (wie Whitman 1819 geboren) ein halbes Jahr tot. Den hatte man in Amerika völlig vergessen. Whitman nicht, Tausende kamen zu seiner Beerdigung. Auf seinen Tod war Whitman vorbereitet. Er hatte ein Mausoleum in Auftrag gegeben und sein Hauptwerk Leaves of Grass ein letztes Mal überarbeitet: L. of G. at last complete—after 33 y'rs of hackling at it, all times & moods of my life, fair weather & foul, all parts of the land, and peace & war, young & old. Man hat diese Ausgabe später auch als Deathbed Edition bezeichnet.

Vor einem Jahr stand ➱hier natürlich schon etwas über Walt Whitman, den solitary singer (wie Gay Wilson Allen seine Whitman Biographie betitelte). Und davor gab es auch schon einmal einen kleinen Whitman ➱Artikel. Was soll ich also noch über ihn sagen? Ich lasse heute das letzte Wort einem Dichter: Allen Ginsberg. Der fühlte sich, wie viele seiner Generation Whitman besonders verbunden, sein Gedicht A Supermarket in California ist eine einzige poetische Liebeserklärung:

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked 
down the streets under the trees with a headache self-conscious 
looking at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon 

fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at 

night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the 
tomatoes! - and you, Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking 

among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? 

What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you, 

and followed in my imagination by the store detective.
We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy 

tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing 
the cashier.

Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. 

Which way does your beard point tonight?
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel absurd.)
Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to 

shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be lonely.
Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue auto-

mobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what 

America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got 
out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe?

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