A month ago I began our celebration of the U. S. National Poetry Month with an audio piece using the words of Walt Whitman. Today I bring our month of music meeting poetry to a close with another piece by Whitman: "Poets to Come."
Which is appropriate, as modern American poetry begins with Whitman.
From time to time in his work, Whitman reminds us that he knows he hasn’t fully realized his poetic project. This isn’t just false modesty. He revised and added to “Leaves of Grass” throughout his lifetime, but it wasn’t because he thought perfection was one more edit away. Whitman seems to accept that it’s better to try to do what his ideals say to aim for, to make the effort to become the artist his art asks to exist. It’s better to be 80%, or even half or less, of that ideal Whitman he writes of, sounding his barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world, that for no Whitman to dare exist.
Note though that Whitman isn’t asking himself to do this for self-expression. His expression, even with the particularities of his own person being unavoidable, is cultural expression. He’s sought to sing into existence the culture he wanted America and the world to have.
Which is what makes this poem a great basis for the last post of this Poetry Month. He had faith for the poets who would follow his innovations and audacity. Many did come forth after him, many of which we’ve presented here. Whitman had, I might suppose, faith in the intentions of the Parlando Project—and I, if I pay attention to the spirit he wrote of, I should have faith too.
During April I’ve created and presented 16 combinations of various words with my music, more than any other month in the year and half of this project. I took a crack at preforming all of that “April is the cruelest month” modernist epic of T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”—and only got near half-way done. I worked on the finding and understanding the words I’ve used or composing, playing, and recording music for several hours every day this month.
And you’ve listened to these pieces, and if you’re here, you’ve even read my words about the process, for which I’m grateful. I’ll be back tomorrow with a piece by Dave Moore and the LYL Band for May Day and there may yet be more LYL Band recording before this Spring is over. I do expect to take a bit of a rest after the efforts of this April however. I have a pile of books I want and need to read, a whole lot of interesting blogs I’ve gotten behind looking at too, and I’m looking forward to listening to music I didn’t have to think up first.