The question, O me! so sad, recurring–What good amid
these, O me, O life?
That you are here–that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a
-Walt Whitman, O me! O life!
I read this last night while sitting on our back deck. Humming birds were flying between myself and the humming bird feeder. Sometimes one will hover near me while I read. Its wings beat rapidly and I don’t look up. Hearing is enough.
Recently, while leaning over the deck railing, a female landed on the feeder only inches from me. I strained my eyes to view. This is the closest I’d ever been to her. I watched her heart beat. She studied me and then fed. Her wings did not flap. She simply stood on the feeder. When she was done, she flew away, and I expelled the breathe I’d been holding.
This morning I again read O me! O life! and I think it’s a good morning.
Yesterday after work I sat and read. I was again at a favorite location. A number of the people at the pub, I know, and talk with often. I let the noise of the pub help to settle into my reading.
Now I’m reading and I’m turning pages and I like the book. I’m reading about how a child is trying to teach his father and the father misunderstands these lessons. I read about the drum tapping as soldiers prepare for battle. The Poet is doing everything. He manipulates his use of grammar perfectly for him and his words.
I’m deeper now and turning another page and I realize I’m smiling. I’m smiling and I’m turning the page and I’m seeing the bookmark and I stop to ask for a pen and I write-
To Smile Without Pause-
To This I give Myself Permission
Father, what is that in the sky beckoning to me with long
And what does it say to me all the while?
Nothing, my babe, you see in the sky;
And nothing at all to you it says. But look you, my babe, Look at these dazzling things in the houses, and see you
the money-shops opening;
And see you the vehicles preparing to crawl along the streets with goods;
These! ah, these! how valued and toil’d for, these!
How envied by all the earth! – Walk Whitman, Drum – Taps
Walt died in 1882. He’s telling us much. The child saw and asked the father who saw little. It’s a warning. For any of us who can see and those who cannot. It’s time to stop asking. His father does damage and ‘These! ah, these!’ is a bullshit red flag. His father’s emotion wasn’t important then and it’s not important now. What was important was the child asking the question.