So, without further ado, let’s get to today’s painting and poem, inspired by Walt Whitman’s poem from Leaves of Grass, Song of Myself.
To read this poem, click here (or scroll down near the bottom of the page)
THIS HOUSE WAS ALWAYS BROKEN
This house was always broken
and now it’s full of stifling shadows—
a clumsy, windblown panoply
of somnambulant chuntering—
lingering memories that sometimes smile,
shed tears, or spill bitter draughts of laughter.
You leave each moment
as you enter it—
will you stumble in the night
from room to dusty room
or light a lantern
and walk into the sea?
This house was always broken.
When you’re on the water’s edge,
With what is your heart filled?
Watch your thoughts
ripple across the canvas of the sea.
You and the sea are inextricably bound.
Your steady gaze will quell the tempest,
scatter the clouds like ashes
and lift up the newborn sun.
The seagulls will dance in the coddling breezes
and cry for your joy.
You were born chasing the sun.
Now die with it in your hands.
There’s no more room for shadows in your heart,
where ghosts may roam and murmur in tongues.
from SONG OF MYSELF (46)
by Walt Whitman
I know I have the best of time and space, and was never measured and never will be measured.
I tramp a perpetual journey, (come listen all!)
My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut from the woods,
No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair,
I have no chair, no church, no philosophy,
I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, exchange,
But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll,
My left hand hooking you round the waist,
My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the public road.
Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,
You must travel it for yourself.
It is not far, it is within reach,
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,
Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.
Shoulder your duds dear son, and I will mine, and let us hasten forth,
Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go.
If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest the chuff of your hand on my hip,
And in due time you shall repay the same service to me,
For after we start we never lie by again.
This day before dawn I ascended a hill and look’d at the crowded heaven,
And I said to my spirit When we become the enfolders of those orbs, and the pleasure and knowledge of every thing in them, shall we be fill’d and satisfied then?
And my spirit said No, we but level that lift to pass and continue beyond.
You are also asking me questions and I hear you,
I answer that I cannot answer, you must find out for yourself.
Sit a while dear son,
Here are biscuits to eat and here is milk to drink,
But as soon as you sleep and renew yourself in sweet clothes, I kiss you with a good-by kiss and open the gate for your egress hence.
Long enough have you dream’d contemptible dreams,
Now I wash the gum from your eyes,
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life.
Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore,
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout, and laughingly dash with your hair.
Walt Whitman 1819-1892. Born in West Hills, Long Island, NY.
Link to Biography: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/walt-whitman
Link to Poem: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45477/song-of-myself-1892-version
ABOUT THE POETRY PAINTING PROJECT
For the past couple of months I have been working on a huge new secret project with my painter, Addie Hirshten, of Studio Alchemy
We selected 30 poems (from the public domain) and each day for the next 30 days I will write a poem inspired by it, and Addie will paint a painting.
Expect an outpouring of creative energy! This is the sort of big project that artists live for … where we can say what we yearn to say. Big picture stuff. Heart wrenching stuff. I feel so inspired by the poetry we are working with AND seeing Addie’s process as well. Expect daily surprises with our posts. Expect passion. Expect love. Expect life.
It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.Henry David Thoreau
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