This Date in Art History: Born 31 May 1860 – Walter Sickert, an English painter.
Below – “The Acting Manager or Rehearsal: The End of the Act”; “La Giuseppina, the Ring”; “Ennui”; “The Proposal”; “Reverie.”
This Date in Literary History: Born 31 May 1819 – Walt Whitman, an American poet, essayist, journalist, and author of “Leaves of Grass”; Part I of II.
Some quotes from “Leaves of Grass”:
“I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”
“This is what you should do: love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men … re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss what insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem.”
“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”
“The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first; Be not discouraged – keep on – there are divine things, well envelop’d; I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.”
“A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he.”
“To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle. Every cubic inch of space is a miracle.”
“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you. You must travel it by yourself. It is not far. It is within reach. Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know. Perhaps it is everywhere – on water and land.”
Below – “Water Boys”; “Read my mind”; “P3m”; “I can keep a secret”; “Every day it’s a-getting closer”; “Plant a mountain.”
Verse 52 from “Song of Myself”
by Walt Whitman
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 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 bequeathe 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.
Below – “Sundown in North Shore”; “Street of New York 4 Green Evening”; “Urban Forest Sundown”; “A Rainy Day in Fifth Avenue”; “Crossing Second Avenue”; When The Sun Goes Down.”
by Jill Bialosky
We take our last walk.
Walls stripped of portraits,
warped mirrors, dressing tables,
and the grandfather clock
with its stoic face
and elaborate gentle fingers.
For years we struggled to break
free of the closeness of rooms,
the obligation of birth order,
the metaphysics that bind
one element to the other,
as if we were still wild girls
playing wild rover in the garden,
breaking through a chain of linked hands.
Below – “New York Sunset”; “Winter Evening in Manhattan”; “Soho After Shower”; “When There Was White Snow In Manhattan”; “Rainy in South Manhattan”; “A Long Travel and Stormy Day.”
by David Mason
The fence was down. Out among humid smells
and shrill cicadas we walked, the lichened trunks
moon-blue, our faces blue and our hands.
Led by their bellwether bellies, the sheep
had toddled astray. The neighbor farmer’s woods
or coyotes might have got them, or the far road.
I remember the night, the moon-colored grass
we waded through to look for them, the oaks
tangled and dark, like starting a story midway.
We gazed over seed heads to the barn
toppled in the homestead orchard. Then we saw
the weather of white wool, a cloud in the blue
moving without sound as if charmed
by the moon beholding them out of bounds.
Time has not tightened the wire or righted the barn.
The unpruned orchard rots in its meadow
and the story unravels, the sunlight creeping back
like a song with nobody left to hear it.
Below – Georgia Jarvis: “Abandoned Farm”