Just another Looking for Whitman weblog

“Mother, Father, Water, Earth, Me…”

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferying at 3:49 pm on Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In chapter 3 -“Mother, Father, Water, Earth, Me..” of Walt Whitman A Life by Justin Kaplan, there was a part which interested me a lot. It is on page 67, the last paragraph; it was about an event that occurred in June 1829 when Whitman was 10 years old. The Fulton, which was the first steam vessel to be built by a government, blew up in the morning in the Brooklyn Navy yard. It was written that a disaffected sailor had fired the powder magazine. This explosion caused the deaths of forty or fifty crew members. This event also happened to be described by Justin Kaplan as Whitman’s “most vivid recollection from his five or six years in the common school was a dull shock, something like an earthquake, he imagined.”  The funeral that was held a few days later moved Whitman to tears.

“With music strong I come, “ he wrote in “Song of Myself,”

… with my cornets and my drums,
I play not marches for accepted victors only, I play marches for
                     conquer’d and slain persons.

                                        .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
I beat and pound for the dead,
I blow through my embouchures my loudest and gayest for them.

 Within the few lines of the excerpt from Whitman’s Song of Myself poem, we see how enthuse Whitman was for the deceased crewmembers. Being the age of 10 at the time of the incident, I can only imagine what was going through Whitman’s mind. It was a tragic incident for anyone to remember, and consider this being one of Whitman’s most vivid recollections at the age of 10; it must’ve been a rather immense experience for him. Thinking back, I cannot recall a memory from when I was 10, not even how my birthday went. For Whitman, the tragic event was still in his memory.

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Skip to toolbar