William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Sunday’s Child

At long last I can say I have read Leaves of Grass — every word, in the poet’s final edition. I can also say that I have read each poem aloud, phrase by phrase, line by line, slowly, patiently, thoughtfully, carefully listening all the while. I had read Walt Whitman before. I had read his 1855 first edition, and many of his poems at random. And about fifteen years ago, at night before falling asleep when I was helping take care of my mother, I read, or tried to read, Specimen Days and Collect. The rest of his prose still waits, including two rare volumes of his early newspaper writing. But the experience of his poetry, like the poetry of his experience, is moving and profound. It sweeps away all blather and criticism. It is the blood from a Civil War wound. And the poems of his old age are a lesson in humility, gratitude, and acceptance. At one point, looking back on his life’s work, he even confesses that he may at times have been a little careless. But for a poet who contained multitudes, being unable to contain himself hardly needed an apology. Certainly he is not the only great poet in this world. But as a human being, he is the world. Like you. Like me.

December 6, 2019. Evening.

 

lilac
Sunday’s Child

To be my mother’s lilac,
and for her to somehow know it

like its scent, a thought that
cannot last for long

Poems, Slightly Used, May 4, 2009

Categories: New Poems & Pieces, Poems, Slightly Used

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