Sunday, October 05, 2008

Walt Whitman

On the beach at night alone,
As the old mother sways her to and fro singing her husky song,
As I watch the bright stars shining, I think a thought of the clef
of the universes and of the future.

A vast similitude interlocks all,
All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets,
All distances of place however wide,
All distances of time, all inanimate forms,
All souls, all living bodies though they be ever so different, or in different worlds,
All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes, the fishes, the brutes,
All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages,
All identities that have existed or may exist on this globe, or any globe,
All lives and deaths, all of the past, present, future,
This vast similitude spans them, and always has spann'd,
And shall forever span them and compactly hold and enclose them.

I wasn't familiar with Walt Whitman's poems when I lived in the UK. Having picked up a second-hand volume of his "Selected Poems" recently, I'm enjoying getting to know him.

The above poem, "On The Beach At Night Alone" is now a firm favourite.

Walt Whitman was born on 31 May 1819, on Long Island, New York. Astrotheme gives his time of birth as 1.45 am.

Gemini Sun trines Jupiter in Aquarius - Gemini the writer's planet, Jupiter the publishing planet - how well this harmonious link fits the paragraph lifted from a brief biography here :

"At the age of twelve Whitman began to learn the printer's trade, and fell in love with the written word. Largely self-taught, he read voraciously, becoming acquainted with the works of Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, and the Bible. Whitman worked as a printer in New York City until a devastating fire in the printing district demolished the industry. In 1836, at the age of 17, he began his career as teacher in the one-room school houses of Long Island. He continued to teach until 1841, when he turned to journalism as a full-time career. He founded a weekly newspaper, Long-Islander, and later edited a number of Brooklyn and New York papers. In 1848, Whitman left the Brooklyn Daily Eagle to become editor of the New Orleans Crescent. It was in New Orleans that he experienced at first hand the viciousness of slavery in the slave markets of that city."

There's a Grand Trine, a free-flowing very helpful link between planets in Fire signs in this chart too. Leo Moon to Uranus & Neptune in Sagittarius, to Mars in Aries - dynamic energy to aid the Air trine between Sun and Jupiter described above.

Walt Whitman's life wasn't the easy ride, indicated by the fore-mentioned aspects though. Saturn, Chiron and Pluto conjoined in compassionate Pisces form challenging square aspects to Neptune & Uranus. These aspects, between slower-moving bodies would have been present in the charts of most of a generation - possibly reflecting the difficulties and challenges of the Civil War.

"At the outbreak of the Civil War, Whitman vowed to live a "purged" and "cleansed" life. He wrote freelance journalism and visited the wounded at New York-area hospitals. He then traveled to Washington, D.C. in December 1862 to care for his brother who had been wounded in the war. Overcome by the suffering of the many wounded in Washington, Whitman decided to stay and work in the hospitals. Whitman stayed in the city for eleven years. He took a job as a clerk for the Department of the Interior, which ended when the Secretary of the Interior, James Harlan, discovered that Whitman was the author of Leaves of Grass, which Harlan found offensive. Harlan fired the poet.

Whitman struggled to support himself through most of his life. In Washington he lived on a clerk's salary and modest royalties, and spent any excess money, including gifts from friends, to buy supplies for the patients he nursed. He had also been sending money to his widowed mother and an invalid brother. From time to time writers both in the states and in England sent him "purses" of money so that he could get by."

Finally, a quote from Walt Whitman which could be said to sum up his natal chart, its trines and its squares:

"Have you learned the lessons only of those who admired you, and were tender with you, and stood aside for you? Have you not learned great lessons from those who braced themselves against you, and disputed passage with you?"


Wisewebwoman said...

Oh I love this man!

Twilight said...

WWW~~~ I'm not surprised! I'm looking forward to getting to know him better. :-)

anthonynorth said...

This is a marvellous post. I've never really read Whitman before either. Something I think I'll have to rectify forthwith.

Twilight said...

Glad it was of interest, AN !
Yes, Walt Whitman seems to offer much to new readers.

His work is described as "the voice and vision of a truly international humanist."

I suppose that he's not as well known in the UK because we have so many poets of our own to be taught in school. Maybe these days they do get around to studying some foreign poets, I hope so.

Michelle said...

We did Walt Whitman's poems in school and I fell in love then. Being in South Africa had some perks - we got brilliant French and Dutch dramas on TV, music from Australia, UK and Europe and poetry from America as well as England. :-)

Michelle said...

Sorry Twulight, I'm just adding this so I can get the email feature to work as lately I keep forgetting where I've left replies on blogs!

Twilight said...

Michelle - Hi!

An eclectic education eh? The best of all worlds, and the best kind of education, I think. :-)