Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Man: Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman fans, take note of the following event and group. And if you’re not a Walt Whitman fan…well, honestly, you really should be! To quickly convince you of his mastery and passion, read my favorite part of “Song of Myself,” the glorious ending:

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering.

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

The last scud of the day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow’d wilds,
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.

And here’s the upcoming event:

Please join the Washington Friends of Walt Whitman for a special afternoon of poetry and painting on Sunday, February 10, from 2 pm to 4 pm. Richard Claude is hosting a private viewing for us of his collection of paintings of Georgetown, including a delightful depiction of Walt on Potomac's shores. We'll intersperse our appreciation of Richard's work with appropriate readings of Walt's poetry and prose.

We will meet at Richard's apartment in Georgetown. Paid parking is available at the Georgetown Park mall nearby. For specific location details, please email Martin Murray at

Richard is a retired professor of Law and Politics at the University of Maryland, who took up painting to celebrate a return of his vision after an effective treatment for his macular degeneration was found. Later this winter, Richard will donate his collection to the Georgetown Library, which intends to auction it off to benefit its restoration project following last year’s tragic fire.

RSVP with Martin at

NOTE: The next Washington Friends of Walt Whitman event will be a tour of the US Treasury Building on Saturday, March 1, at 11:15 am. To stay informed about Whitman-related events, please join the Yahoo list serve at CyberWalt: The web site includes upcoming events, links, and photos.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.