|One of the unused Clive Hicks-Jenkins|
images for The Foliate Head--it seems
to fit this Whitmanian post...
Our professor would often arrive singing "Lili Marleen," a thing that somewhat disconcerted me because my legal first name is Susan (meaning "Lily") and my middle name "Marlene." He was always cheerful and clearly the famous early bird, which most of us were not. If we were reading poetry, he would always want me to read because he liked the way I read poetry, and if we were on Whitman, he would rarely let anybody else get a word in. Some mornings at 7:00 I could hardly speak! But Whitman tends to wake a person, even a young and sleepy person. The professor was a bright, amusing man, to whom a number of sad things later happened that are nobody's business. But he seemed to have strong friendships with colleagues and a deep love of literature, so I think he must have had, overall, a satisfying life.
He's long gone now, gone to the grass under my boot-soles, as the poet he loved so much said, even longer ago. They were kindred in some ways, and departed "as air." They shook "white locks at the runaway sun." They effused "flesh in eddies, and drift[ed] it in lacy jags. And so this morning I read a little Whitman aloud in the honor of that long-ago professor, the early bird, the lover of poetry, the man of great good cheer.
Have you reckoned a thousand acres much? Have you reckoned the earth much?
Have you practiced so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?
Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun.... there are millions of suns left,
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand.... nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself.
--Whitman, shaker of white locks at the runaway sun
* * *
Notes on my recent books, no. 3
excerpt, ABOUT.COM CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE
(click above for complete review)
It is seldom that a novel from a small university press can compete with the offerings from the big houses in New York. A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage may be the best novel this reviewer has read this year. Its quality and story-telling remind one of The Adventures of Roderick Random, Great Expectation and The Grapes of Wrath among others. The winner of the 2012 "Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction," A Death has the potential to become a classic American picaresque novel. / One wishes, however, that this novel will not get shunted into the regional box and be seen only as a Southern novel. Its themes and the power of its language, the forceful flow of its storyline and its characters have earned the right to a broad national audience. 30 July 2012 John M. Formy-Duval