Poetry Plus – That Music Always Round Me – A poem by Walt Whitman

That Music Always Round Me by Walt Whitman

Conductor’s Baton Raised

Conductor’s baton raised
The orchestra starts to play
Emotions explode

Walt Whitman (1819 -1892) was an American poet, essayist, and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works.

Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse. His work was controversial in its time, particularly his poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which was described as obscene for its overt sensuality.

The work was an attempt at reaching out to the common person with an American epic. He continued expanding and revising it until his death in 1892.

At age 11, Whitman left formal schooling to go to work. Later, Whitman worked as a journalist, a teacher, and a government clerk.

During the American Civil War, he went to Washington, D.C. and worked in hospitals caring for the wounded.

Whitman’s poetry often focused on both loss and healing. On the death of Abraham Lincoln, whom Whitman greatly admired, he wrote his well known poems, “O Captain! My Captain!” and “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”, and gave a series of lectures.

Whitman’s influence on poetry remains strong.

Mary Whitall Smith Costelloe argued:

“You cannot really understand America without Walt Whitman, without Leaves of Grass … He has expressed that civilization, ‘up to date,’ as he would say, and no student of the philosophy of history can do without him.”

Modernist poet Ezra Pound called Whitman,

“America’s poet … He is America.”

That Music Always Round Me by Walt Whitman

That music always round me, unceasing, unbeginning—
yet long untaught I did not hear;
But now the chorus I hear, and am elated;

A tenor, strong, ascending, with power and health,
with glad notes of day-break I hear,
A soprano, at intervals, sailing buoyantly over the tops of immense waves,

A transparent bass, shuddering lusciously under and through the universe,
The triumphant tutti—the funeral wailings, with sweet flutes and violins—all
these I
fill myself with;

I hear not the volumes of sound merely—
I am moved by the exquisite meanings,
I listen to the different voices winding in and out, striving, contending with fiery
vehemence

to excel each other in emotion;
I do not think the performers know themselves—
but now I think I begin to know them.

Bio Reference Attribution https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walt_Whitman

Poem Attribution © Walt Whitman, That Music Always Round Me

Source Attribution https://poets.org/poem/music-always-round-me

Senryū Attribution Goff James, Conductor’s Baton Raised

Copyright (c) 2021 Goff James – All Rights Reserved 

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Photo Attribution © George C. Cox, Walt Whitman, 1887

Source Attribution https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walt_Whitman#/media/File:Walt_Whitman_-_George_Collins_Cox.jpg

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Painting Attribution Inna Shavyrina, The Sun Music, (Date Unstated)

Source Attribution https://www.saatchiart.com/art/Painting-The-Sun-Music/1125048/4674809/view

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