Spontaneous Poetics – (Whitman and Wordsworth Comparison)

There’s an odd personism(like in late Frank O’Hara) that you get in Whitman (or Whitman established the personalist, which sustained him. In other words, he was dealing in direct phenomena, observation of his own nature and his own senses and his own thoughts and the thought-forms of his mind, whereas there was a funny solidification in Wordsworth, where it was no longer quite personal but everybody became abstracted and generalized, until, so, finally, he was having to accept or reject ideas, rather than observe the flow of ideas, let us say.

One little later political note by Whitman, then I’ll go back to Wordsworth

“Thought” .. ..write a poem… “Thoughts”, ok [Allen reads from Whitman’s “Thought” – “Of public opinion/Of a calm and cool fiat sooner or later (how impassive! how certain and final!)/Of the President with pale face asking secretly to himself,”What will the people say at last?/ Of the frivolous Judge, of the corrupt Congressman, Governor, Mayor, of such as these standing helpless and exposed..” – That’s the same of the later extension of this line – “of such as these standing helpless and exposed” – in (Bob) Dylan’s “..even the President of the United States/ Someday must have to stand naked” (or the direction of Dylan’s thought is the same as that phrasing of the President with pale face secretly (questioning) himself, Whitman (by) knowing himself is able to know others. Just knowing that everybody exists in the world of subjective fantasy, phenomena, daydream, maya, solidity, passing thought, so that he’s able to get inside other consciousness and know(ing) that it is as empty as his own, so to speak – [Allen continues with “Thought”] – “Of the frivolous Judge – Of the corrupt Congressman, Governor, Mayor – Of such as these, standing helpless and exposed/Of the mumbling and screaming priest – (soon, soon deserted,)/ Of the lessening year by year, of venerableness..”…”Of the envelopment of all by them, and the effusion of all from them.” – (Of public opinion, he’s speaking).

Well, an odd sense, compared to Wordsworth’s take on the phenomenal universe. Whitman was able to go back and forth, say, between form and emptiness, or between despair and hope (knowing them to be, so to speak, like veils of thought, part of a continuous stream of thought). Wordsworth had the hallucination that he had lost contact with his own consciousness, which Whitman never did.

[Audio available here, beginning at approximately thirty-four-and-three-quarter minutes in, and concluding at approximately thirty-eight-and-three-quarter minutes in]

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