...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

March 30, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

What might the great Walt Whitman have said about what's going on in Florida?

To One Shortly to Die

From all the rest I single out you, having a message for you:
You are to die—Let others tell you what they please, I cannot prevaricate,
I am exact and merciless, but I love you—There is no escape for you.

Softly I lay my right hand upon you—you just feel it,
I do not argue—I bend my head close, and half envelope it,
I sit quietly by—I remain faithful,
I am more than nurse, more than parent or neighbor,
I absolve you from all except yourself, spiritual, bodily—that is eternal—you yourself will surely escape,
The corpse you will leave will be but excrementitious.

The sun bursts through in unlooked-for directions!
Strong thoughts fill you, and confidence—you smile!
You forget you are sick, as I forget you are sick,
You do not see the medicines—you do not mind the weeping friends—I am with you,
I exclude others from you—there is nothing to be commiserated,
I do not commiserate—I congratulate you.

Posted by annika, Mar. 30, 2005 |
Rubric: Poetry


This is a disturbing confluence of the immoral and the amoral. Schiavo and his attorney are immoral. They are leveraging an amoral, or "blind," system to achieve their aims.

This is depressing almost beyond the capacity to describe. It's like the fighter in "the killers" waiting in his hotel room to be murdered and Nick Adams can't convince him to flee.

Posted by: Jason O. on Mar. 30, 2005

On a more personal level, my experience has been somewhat different.

"Strong thoughts fill you, and confidence—you smile!"

I've seen panic and fear and pain that I can never forget.

Posted by: Casca on Mar. 30, 2005

My guess is that Whitman was drawing on his experiences in Civil War era field hospital work.

Posted by: annika on Mar. 30, 2005

Did you mean to link your poetry post with your spanking one?

Both deal with pain. One pain causes death. The other pain causes pleasure.

Am I reaching?

Posted by: Jake on Mar. 30, 2005

Annika, that is a beautiful poem. Though on one level, she is suffering an unimaginable death, I think on another level--perhaps the one Whitman was addressing, I think it might be something like that.

The reason that touches me so, is that in my prayers for going on two weeks now, I have been asking for just that for her--a presence that gives her the comfort of knowing that she is deeply loved, and reminds her that though her time is short on this green earth, she has a hope that is yet to be fulfilled, that is soon to be fulfilled.

Posted by: Desert Cat on Mar. 30, 2005

Agreed that it is both fine and apropos. But you know, sometimes it seems to me that old Walt had to make everything about himself...

Posted by: Hugo on Mar. 31, 2005

Most decidedly is based on his civil war experience. And in boring academic papers, this is one of the poems used to suggest that Walt had homosexual leanings.

Posted by: ken on Mar. 31, 2005

Ken, pretty much every poem of Walt's would fit into that category, i think.

Posted by: annika on Mar. 31, 2005