On Whitman

C. K. Williams, Author . Princeton Univ. $19.95 (187p) ISBN 978-0-691-14472-6

This jewel of a book, by one poet on another in the Writers on Writers series, does nothing less than show that Walt Whitman is the very unconscious and Paraclete of all American poets working today. With generous quotes from Williams's hero, we see how Whitman's oracular largesse most certainly extended to the continental-inspired Pound and Eliot. Williams returns to the pure, original edition (out of nine) of Leaves of Grass for inspiration, finding the so-called deathbed edition along with all the Leaves in between lacking the first flush of musical and formal elements. Williams likewise always returns to Leaves to explore what inspires—beyond Dante, Shakespeare, and others who attract him. In “Song of Myself,” the “I” and “you,” author and experiencer, are conflated to the point where the writer is one more of his own readers; “Song of Myself” tellingly ends with the word “you.” As Williams observes, Whitman “wants us not to be afraid of ourselves, even of our dark, darkest, most doubting selves.” As a personal introduction to the visionary free-verse wellspring of the American poetic spirit, this book is one that no poetry lover should miss. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/08/2010
Release date: 04/01/2010
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.