Manvotional: Pioneers! O Pioneers! by Walt Whitman

by Brett & Kate McKay on November 21, 2009 · 30 comments

in A Man's Life, Manvotionals

pioneers4

Walt Whitman wrote the poem “Pioneers! O Pioneers!” as an ode to the pioneers who had struck out in search of  adventure and a better life and settled the wild of the American West. He praises the rugged resiliency, the daring courage, and the fearless resolution of those who left the past behind to hew out of the land new lives. While Whitman may have had America’s Western pioneers in mind, the poem is a paean to all pioneers, past and present, from any part of the globe. It will gladden the heart of any man who has said no to a life of ease and complacency and left the path of least resistance to blaze his own trail and forge his own course in life.

The poem is a good read, but listening to this reading of it by Will Geer is positively mesmerizing (it can be heard in those new Levis commercials-not sure how Walt would feel about his poetry being used to sell dungarees). Let the words sink into you, and rise in the morning ready to take on the world with undaunted courage unshakeable hardihood. You don’t have to cross the plains to be a pioneer-you can simply choose to live your life to the fullest, with honor, and with integrity.

Pioneers! O Pioneers! by Walt Whitman

Come my tan-faced children,
Follow well in order, get your weapons ready,
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp-edged axes?
Pioneers! O pioneers!

For we cannot tarry here,
We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,
We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O you youths, Western youths,
So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship,
Plain I see you Western youths, see you tramping with the foremost,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Have the elder races halted?
Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied over there beyond the seas?
We take up the task eternal, and the burden and the lesson,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the past we leave behind,
We debouch upon a newer mightier world, varied world,
Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

We detachments steady throwing,
Down the edges, through the passes, up the mountains steep,
Conquering, holding, daring, venturing as we go the unknown ways,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

We primeval forests felling,
We the rivers stemming, vexing we and piercing deep the mines within,
We the surface broad surveying, we the virgin soil upheaving,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Colorado men are we,
From the peaks gigantic, from the great sierras and the high plateaus,
From the mine and from the gully, from the hunting trail we come,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

From Nebraska, from Arkansas,
Central inland race are we, from Missouri, with the continental
blood intervein’d,
All the hands of comrades clasping, all the Southern, all the Northern,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O resistless restless race!
O beloved race in all! O my breast aches with tender love for all!
O I mourn and yet exult, I am rapt with love for all,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Raise the mighty mother mistress,
Waving high the delicate mistress, over all the starry mistress,
(bend your heads all,)
Raise the fang’d and warlike mistress, stern, impassive, weapon’d mistress,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

See my children, resolute children,
By those swarms upon our rear we must never yield or falter,
Ages back in ghostly millions frowning there behind us urging,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

On and on the compact ranks,
With accessions ever waiting, with the places of the dead quickly fill’d,
Through the battle, through defeat, moving yet and never stopping,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O to die advancing on!
Are there some of us to droop and die? has the hour come?
Then upon the march we fittest die, soon and sure the gap is fill’d.
Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the pulses of the world,
Falling in they beat for us, with the Western movement beat,
Holding single or together, steady moving to the front, all for us,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Life’s involv’d and varied pageants,
All the forms and shows, all the workmen at their work,
All the seamen and the landsmen, all the masters with their slaves,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the hapless silent lovers,
All the prisoners in the prisons, all the righteous and the wicked,
All the joyous, all the sorrowing, all the living, all the dying,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

I too with my soul and body,
We, a curious trio, picking, wandering on our way,
Through these shores amid the shadows, with the apparitions pressing,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Lo, the darting bowling orb!
Lo, the brother orbs around, all the clustering suns and planets,
All the dazzling days, all the mystic nights with dreams,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

These are of us, they are with us,
All for primal needed work, while the followers there in embryo wait behind,
We to-day’s procession heading, we the route for travel clearing,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O you daughters of the West!
O you young and elder daughters! O you mothers and you wives!
Never must you be divided, in our ranks you move united,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Minstrels latent on the prairies!
(Shrouded bards of other lands, you may rest, you have done your work,)
Soon I hear you coming warbling, soon you rise and tramp amid us,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Not for delectations sweet,
Not the cushion and the slipper, not the peaceful and the studious,
Not the riches safe and palling, not for us the tame enjoyment,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Do the feasters gluttonous feast?
Do the corpulent sleepers sleep? have they lock’d and bolted doors?
Still be ours the diet hard, and the blanket on the ground,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Has the night descended?
Was the road of late so toilsome? did we stop discouraged nodding
on our way?
Yet a passing hour I yield you in your tracks to pause oblivious,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Till with sound of trumpet,
Far, far off the daybreak call–hark! how loud and clear I hear it wind,
Swift! to the head of the army!–swift! spring to your places,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

(Hat tip to Allan for this manvotional idea)

Come my tan-faced children,
Follow well in order, get your weapons ready,
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp-edged axes?
Pioneers! O pioneers!

For we cannot tarry here,
We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,
We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O you youths, Western youths,
So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship,
Plain I see you Western youths, see you tramping with the foremost,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Have the elder races halted?
Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied over there beyond the seas?
We take up the task eternal, and the burden and the lesson,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the past we leave behind,
We debouch upon a newer mightier world, varied world,
Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

We detachments steady throwing,
Down the edges, through the passes, up the mountains steep,
Conquering, holding, daring, venturing as we go the unknown ways,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

We primeval forests felling,
We the rivers stemming, vexing we and piercing deep the mines within,
We the surface broad surveying, we the virgin soil upheaving,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Colorado men are we,
From the peaks gigantic, from the great sierras and the high plateaus,
From the mine and from the gully, from the hunting trail we come,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

From Nebraska, from Arkansas,
Central inland race are we, from Missouri, with the continental
blood intervein’d,
All the hands of comrades clasping, all the Southern, all the Northern,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O resistless restless race!
O beloved race in all! O my breast aches with tender love for all!
O I mourn and yet exult, I am rapt with love for all,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Raise the mighty mother mistress,
Waving high the delicate mistress, over all the starry mistress,
(bend your heads all,)
Raise the fang’d and warlike mistress, stern, impassive, weapon’d mistress,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

See my children, resolute children,
By those swarms upon our rear we must never yield or falter,
Ages back in ghostly millions frowning there behind us urging,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

On and on the compact ranks,
With accessions ever waiting, with the places of the dead quickly fill’d,
Through the battle, through defeat, moving yet and never stopping,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O to die advancing on!
Are there some of us to droop and die? has the hour come?
Then upon the march we fittest die, soon and sure the gap is fill’d.
Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the pulses of the world,
Falling in they beat for us, with the Western movement beat,
Holding single or together, steady moving to the front, all for us,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Life’s involv’d and varied pageants,
All the forms and shows, all the workmen at their work,
All the seamen and the landsmen, all the masters with their slaves,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the hapless silent lovers,
All the prisoners in the prisons, all the righteous and the wicked,
All the joyous, all the sorrowing, all the living, all the dying,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

I too with my soul and body,
We, a curious trio, picking, wandering on our way,
Through these shores amid the shadows, with the apparitions pressing,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Lo, the darting bowling orb!
Lo, the brother orbs around, all the clustering suns and planets,
All the dazzling days, all the mystic nights with dreams,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

These are of us, they are with us,
All for primal needed work, while the followers there in embryo wait behind,
We to-day’s procession heading, we the route for travel clearing,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O you daughters of the West!
O you young and elder daughters! O you mothers and you wives!
Never must you be divided, in our ranks you move united,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Minstrels latent on the prairies!
(Shrouded bards of other lands, you may rest, you have done your work,)
Soon I hear you coming warbling, soon you rise and tramp amid us,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Not for delectations sweet,
Not the cushion and the slipper, not the peaceful and the studious,
Not the riches safe and palling, not for us the tame enjoyment,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Do the feasters gluttonous feast?
Do the corpulent sleepers sleep? have they lock’d and bolted doors?
Still be ours the diet hard, and the blanket on the ground,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Has the night descended?
Was the road of late so toilsome? did we stop discouraged nodding
on our way?
Yet a passing hour I yield you in your tracks to pause oblivious,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Till with sound of trumpet,
Far, far off the daybreak call–hark! how loud and clear I hear it wind,
Swift! to the head of the army!–swift! spring to your places,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Andy November 22, 2009 at 12:08 am

Good poem. I would hesitate to put Whitman in the “Manly” catagory though. Song of Myself infuriated me.

2 Jimbo November 22, 2009 at 1:29 am

Oh course to actually settle a place it has to be unihabited. Unfortunately for the American wild west myth, people had already been living there in sophisticated cultures for thousands of years.

3 Tony November 22, 2009 at 1:40 am

Jimbo, if that were true, then how come people still say they’re settling in Ohio or NYC? Settling just means you’re putting down roots in a place, which you can do if it is inhabited or uninhabited. Here it is true that the pioneers settled in the west, and that they also settled the wildness of the west-yes Native Americans were there, but it was still a wild place. (and come now, I have the utmost respect for the Indians, but their culture was not sophisticated in comparison with the civilizations of Europe. It was quite primitive.)

4 Darren November 22, 2009 at 1:56 am

Very cool selection. I’ve been seeing those Levis commercials and wondering what the heck the voice-over was. I heard that the other commercial has Whitman’s actual voice doing the voice over. I give the advertiser points for being original but I’m not too keen on using Whitman to pimp jeans.

5 Robert November 22, 2009 at 4:01 am

I feel really bad that my only exposure to this poem was through those Levi commercials. And even then I felt that it was something insightful, but not believed for I believed it to be nothing more than a marketing ploy. Oh how wrong I was. Here’s to those out there forgiving my unknowing ignorance of this fact, as I figured out Levi at least used it for nothing more than a game.

6 Chris Cunningham November 22, 2009 at 9:46 am

Tony:

Your words say you have respect for Native Americans, but your tone says otherwise. It was theirs. We took it. Unpleasant as it is, we need to start by accepting the truth.
Honor, courage, justice, loyalty. Those are manly attributes. Conquering is machismo, which is something different altogether.

7 Nik November 22, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Levi’s made a good choice; I haven’t been able to help liking their commercials because of the voice-over. It’s good to know what it actually is.

Also, along the lines of what others have said, I think it’s fine to praise the courage of the pioneers, but we should be careful to understand the damage America did and the civilization it rolled over in its desire to conquer the continent.

As for the sophistication of the Native American civilization, it all depends on what you value: technological advancement and material wealth or sustainable culture built on respect for community and for nature. I think the Native American belief and property system were far more sophisticated than the Western ones that replaced them.
But, obviously we had better technology.

8 Sir Lancelot November 22, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Saying “western” civlisation was more sophisticated than the native peoples is not disrespectful, it’s merely highlighting a fact, and by attributing the conquest of the West simply to machismo you’re reducing history to cheap psychoanalysis.

9 Scott November 22, 2009 at 2:08 pm

I’d recommend Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs and Steel” to give an interesting take on the destruction of “native” Americans (earlier immigrants via Siberia) by those latecomers from Europe. His “Collapse” may foreshadow our own fate.

10 Bernie Franks November 22, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Nik:

When you say that Native Americans had respect for community and nature, what exactly do you mean by that? They fought, killed one another in the same tribe and in other tribes, and depending on which tribes we’re talking about, some also decimated the landscape. I’m not saying that what the settlers did to them was right, but to believe that America was some sort of Eden before the Honky Invasion is just as ludicrous and misguided as praising the settlers for annihilating Native Americans.

Also, I’m curious about what you mean when you say “the Native American belief and property system.” As far as I know, there is no one belief system that was shared across all tribes. And as for the ‘property system,’ many Native American tribes didn’t even have a concept of property (hence all the trouble with natives killing pilgrim livestock, it didn’t make sense that animals and land could “belong” to somebody) — but maybe you’re referring to the actual lack of system.

11 justin.barrett November 22, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Whitman is the first great American poet, and still one of its best. Not sure why Whitman wouldn’t be “manly”. Oh, I get it…it’s because he was a poet.

12 Tony November 22, 2009 at 7:11 pm

“It was theirs. We took it. Unpleasant as it is, we need to start by accepting the truth.”

I am all for accepting the truth. The truth is that Native Americans were displacing and conquering each other long before the white man came to this land.

The interpretation of history has a tendency to swing back and forth. Yes 50 years ago people overlooked the Native Americans when telling the story of the pioneer. But now it has swung the other way where Indians are romanticized as peace-loving earth people.

The truth is that Native Americans warred with each other and conquered each other. If the tables had been turned and they had the technology and we didn’t, they would have conquered us.

I’ve never understood those who lament the white man’s coming to America and say that we should have let the Indians alone…..how would that have worked out practically? Would American have been another Africa? We certainly wouldn’t be here arguing on computers if we had done that.

13 library_goon November 22, 2009 at 7:16 pm

It’s funny because I just put that one my AoM page. What’s also funny is that I just bought a handgun and a Viking axe – but not because of the poem. Gotta love yourself some Walt!

14 Luis Q November 22, 2009 at 10:11 pm

Nice poem. Just wanted to say that for some reason I got like 40-50 blank lines in this e-mail subscription (just this mail though). If you want me to expand or forward you the e-mail let me know.

15 Victor November 22, 2009 at 10:52 pm

As many have pointed out this is a great poem, I can only wish to be a Pioneer to admire this poem in its full glory. Additionally as many have also pointed out to have it be heard and used in a Levi’s commercial, what a wasted. How sad is that?

Thanks for making sure people heard it to it’s fullest.

16 Rick November 23, 2009 at 9:45 am

The reading is by Will Geer, with some voice over in others by Mr. Whitman himself.

17 Alex Chebykin November 23, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Great poem. Always moves me when the Levi’s commercial comes on. Although it’s kind of disappointing that this great work was used to move a product, but at least it will introduce the populace to Walt Whitman.

18 James November 23, 2009 at 9:17 pm

When the first Europeans arrived, they encountered stone-age hunter-gatherers. They had no true agriculture, no towns, no livestock, no system of written language, no metal tools, no horses, no cloth, and had not even invented the wheel. Where once there were thousands of miles of verdant forest, there were the great plains, a grass-covered flatland denuded by the natives of trees.

To romanticize these primitives, who were safe from the upheavals of civilization in isolation, is to subscribe to the notion of the Noble Savage. See them for what they were – a technologically inferior people who were subdued and assimilated as happens when any advanced culture encounters a lesser one, not some paragon of unspoiled virtue. Revisionism is weakness, seeing truth is strength, no matter how unpleasant it seems.

19 Steven Handel November 24, 2009 at 1:33 am

One of my favorites! Thanks for posting!

20 sam November 24, 2009 at 1:55 pm

This is much better without the hipster imagery in those commercials.

A well-timed manvotional. Now people know who to thank for these words, instead of citing a jeans commercial.

21 K November 24, 2009 at 2:38 pm

James, saying that Indigenous Americans weren’t advanced by including “no horses” in that list should embarrass you. We measure the development of cultures based on which animals were available for use? As for “no towns”, “no true agriculture”, “no livestock”, “no system of written language”, “no metal tools”, and “no cloth”, a simple Google search confirms my hunches that you are wrong. Seeing truth is strength, remember?

Although I’m skeptical of Noble Savage claims, I’m equally dubious of those who think the value of a people or culture can be measured by technology or trinkets, or those who conflate what they’ve seen in Pocahontas with the entirety of Mesoamerican civilization. As for revisionism and not glorifying the past, let us not forget that when Europeans arrived, Europeans were still pooping in streets.

Indigenous Americans were massacred by a more powerful foe, as has happened countless times in history. To glorify that is not “truth”, it is barbarism.

22 Jimbo November 24, 2009 at 4:51 pm

James,

When Europeans first arrived in America, they were given welfare in the form of food and local knowledge about how to survive scurvy, winters, etc.
The vast majority of Native tribes were not hunter gatherers as you see it. Native Americans settlements were primarily based on Agriculture, growing: squash, cotton, tobacco, corn and beans. Row planting, and crop rotation were widely used.
In southern parts of the US complex canals systems hundreds of miles in length were built to provide irrigation to crops in the desert. Settlements were based around wells.
Native Americans did in fact have towns, the largest consisting of between 8-40 thousand residents, Cahokia was the largest American urban area until 1800.
Native Americans were advanced in preventative medicine, mathematics, astronomy, and jewelry design.
The Aboriginal notion of progress was not based upon the superiority and exploitation of nature, as is the European notion, but was based on the equality of people.
This does not sound very primitive to me.
The only thing I find primitive is your statement: “See them for what they were – a technologically inferior people who were subdued and assimilated as happens when any advanced culture encounters a lesser one”
This is a euphemism for genocide. By subdued you may mean that Natives were systematically murdered through disease, war, and starvation for their land. It is well known that disease was used to facilitate Native population decline – in the form of contaminated blankets and other trade items. The buffalo were exterminated in an effort to starve Natives into signing treaties. Finally those who would not sign treaties were invaded by the army.
Assimilation was the final strategy to eliminate Native culture in America, using Christian boarding schools. Fortunately this was unsuccessful, 2.7 million Natives live in America, but this is a far cry from the 8-112 million pre contact population.

There is no romanticization here, and the only revisionism are the myths which you insist on continuing.

23 Tony November 24, 2009 at 6:46 pm

Much of what you say is true, Jimbob, but some of what you say is in error.

“The Aboriginal notion of progress was not based upon the superiority and exploitation of nature, as is the European notion, but was based on the equality of people.”

I’m not sure what kind of equality you’re referencing, but although tribes were largely matriarchal, women were seen as inferior. They also believed that others tribes were inferior. If you are talking about economic equality, than that is true.

As far as not exploiting nature, that is a romantic myth. Native Americans exploited nature to the extent that their technology allowed. They often hunted and farmed in ways that were wasteful.
http://www.perc.org/articles/article651.php

“This is a euphemism for genocide. By subdued you may mean that Natives were systematically murdered through disease, war, and starvation for their land. It is well known that disease was used to facilitate Native population decline – in the form of contaminated blankets and other trade items.”

You’re really overreaching here. Genocide is a term easy to throw around to pump up your point, but it’s really not appropriate here. You say the Indians were “systematically murdered,” but by far the thing that killed the natives the most was the diseases that they contracted when the Europeans arrived. These diseases were not spread will ill intent. If I have swine flu and I give it to someone else and they die, did I murder them? I hope not! The bit about the Indians being given blankets infected with smallpox is mostly myth. There is only a single documented case of this tactic even being discussed, there is no evidence that it was ever carried out, and it was discussed by a British general as a war tactic.
http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1088/did-whites-ever-give-native-americans-blankets-infected-with-smallpox
http://www.thefurtrapper.com/indian_smallpox.htm

There was never any systematic policy in place to wipe the Native Americans out. Disease is not a system-it just happened. War was not waged against the Indian to kill him, but simply to move him off his land (still unconscionable, but not genocide), and starvation (the killing of buffalo) was also not used to kill the Indians but to force them onto reservations. Again, there was never a system put in place to commit genocide against Indians. Most of the Indian policies were motivated by a desire for land, but also out of a misplaced belief that assimilating the Indians through reservation life and schools was the best thing for that culture. It’s easy to look back now and see how wrong-headed these ideas were, but they were not attempts to murder the Indians.

Finally the premise of your whole argument is ultimately flawed. You seek to see virtue in the NA culture because they were equal, and more gentle to the environment, and so on. But this is true of every people before they had writing and more efficient agriculture. The African people, the Caucasian people, every pre-historical tribe. But lived like that not from choice, but from a lack of an alternative. They lacked written language which kept them from record keeping, which kept them from property ownership, which kept them from a formal economy and so on. There is no virtue where there is no choice.

Relativism is silly-some cultures are superior to other cultures. A superior culture came to this land and the results were incredibly unfortunate. But it also brought progress. We can sing the praises of a tribal culture all day long, but no one wants to go back and live like that. Like I said earlier, we wouldn’t be having this argument online if the white man hadn’t come and taken over. The Indians were a warring people, who went to battle against one another. If our roles had been reversed, they would have assuredly conquered us.

It’s important to look beyond what you read from Howard Zinn or what your college professor told you to get a full understanding of history.

24 Jimbo November 24, 2009 at 10:26 pm

Very well if we’re citing any old webites. here it is from wikipedia:

United States of America
Authors such as the Holocaust expert David Cesarani have argued that the government and policies of the United States of America against certain indigenous peoples constituted genocide. Cesarani states that “in terms of the sheer numbers killed, the Native American Genocide exceeds that of the Holocaust”.[27] He quotes David E. Stannard, author of American Holocaust,[28] who speaks of the “genocidal and racist horrors against the indigenous peoples that have been and are being perpetrated by many nations in the Western Hemisphere, including the United States …”[29] Michno estimates 21,586 dead, wounded, and captured civilians and soldiers for the period of 1850–1890 alone.[30]

In God, Greed, and Genocide: The Holocaust Through the Centuries, Grenke quotes Chalk and Jonassohn with regards to the Cherokee Trail of Tears that “an act like the Cherokee deportation would almost certainly be considered an act of genocide today”.[31] The Indian Removal Act of 1830 led to the Trail of Tears. About 17,000 Cherokees — along with approximately 2,000 black slaves owned by Cherokees — were removed from their homes.[32] The number of people who died as a result of the Trail of Tears has been variously estimated. American doctor and missionary Elizur Butler, who made the journey with one party, estimated 4,000 deaths.[33]

25 Andy November 24, 2009 at 11:20 pm

To Justin: I don’t think he’s unmanly because he was a poet. I’m a fan of Edgar Allen Poe’s poetry, and I think poetry has a place in a man’s life. I feel Whitman is unmanly mostly due to this ignorant philosophies (Humans are all great people), and his claiming to understand the plight of slaves, dying firemen, and rescuing drowning people from a ship, when his life had little hardship in it. By taking credit for things he has not done (Through his transcendentalist beliefs), he is rendered unmanly.

26 Joe November 25, 2009 at 10:48 am

For all the pc hand wringing in the Native American argument, I would like to do some pc hand wringing of my own. One of the first posters said that they were hesitant to qualify Whitman as “Manly.” One could say it was because he was a poet and intellectual, but let’s not beat around the bush here; its because he was gay. Now we can get into a big “is it manly?” discussion about whether homosexuals can be traditionally manly, but looking at Whitman’s life and works is enough, for me anyway, to say he is definitely manly.

He served as a combat nurse in the Civil War. Now before you get your dander up, consider the working conditions in that place and time period. We cannot imagine the horror, blood, stench, and death of a Civil War medical tent. It would take a man with nerves of steel to both treat the injured solders and keep their sanity the whole time. Now some would argue that a real man’s place is on the battlefield. I say that one of the essential characters of a real man is to stand by his principles. A conscientious objector, Whitman served his country without violence. Sometimes it takes strength not to fight.

Lastly, let’s consider his patriotism. His service in the crucible of war only strengthened his love of country. We need poets to express and preserve the values and ideas that shape us as a culture, and Whitman was the poet our country needed at the time. His verses speak of independence, manly fellowship, and reverence for nature. That’s manly in my book. Who cares if he was gay?

27 Rich November 25, 2009 at 12:32 pm

Tony,

About your statement, “Jimbo, if that were true, then how come people still say they’re settling in Ohio or NYC? ”

No one is settling in Ohio. We are just passing through and end up staying for longer then we expected.

28 Ed Gruszecki December 19, 2009 at 3:55 am

How inspirational were those words, in those times; in Walt’s times!
Now there are different times and the crucible of manliless has become distorted.
So, I wrote:

MUSLIM
And The Foolishness Of The Fight

I’ll eat no swine,
I’ll drink no wine,
I’m a Muslim

I’ll fly your planes into your walls,
I’ll show you that we too have balls.
I’m a Muslim.

I am the young man with a cause,
Exploding without pause.
I’m a Muslim.

I’m as stupid as are you,
Waving flag red white and blue,
I’m a Muslim.

Your boys kill people in Baghdad,
I kill myself because I’m sad.
I’m a Muslim.

I am as stupid as you,
And until our lives our through,
I’ll be Muslim.

Shoot me now or I’ll shoot you,
It will make no sense till you
See that I’m Muslim.

My fathers have tought me to be tough,
Yours have made you tough enough.
You are Muslim.

We’ll kill each other a little more,
We’ll settle each and every score,
Because we’re Muslims.

Allah will love me for my fight,
Your God will love you for the might
You shower down into our night
Of Shock And Awe into the sight
Of children who cower ‘neath the plight
Of being Muslim.

We are no different, you and I,
Both have guns, both easily die,
Because we’re Muslim.

When the fuck will fathers learn
There is no reason more to burn,
Our people
‘Cause they’re Muslim?

You are dying, so are we,
It is time that both we see
The Infidel is you and me,
And we’re both Muslims.

Ed Gruszecki

Walt’s ‘Blades Of Grass’ are, these days, too often split by bullets hurling. It is nice to be a fan of the old Poets. It is nice to be an old poet (which I am). But is terrible to understand how war continues on, and for so supercillious a reason as religious nonsense.
Anyway, those were the thoughts on my mind this morning. I thought I’d share them with you. The aforementioned poem is only ‘broadly’ copyrighted (under a body of work), but not in any exclusivity, so you can do whatever you want with it (should you choose).
Good night, O Pioneer.

29 Rob Schmidt December 31, 2009 at 3:34 pm

I’d say Jimbo knows US history better than Tony does. To help Tony with some of his mistakes and stereotypes, see:

http://www.bluecorncomics.com/2009/12/educating-tony-about-genocide.htm

30 DFerris85 January 5, 2010 at 1:27 am

Love all of the different thoughts on the American expansion to the west. I understand the urge to blanket the early settlers with the sole blame for the demise of the indigenous population. And in a certain thought, we are wholly to blame. Yet when delving a little deaper, the migration of the natives from Siberia toward America occurred over a few thousand years. Of course, this does not mean that one group of people left Siberia one day and arrived a few thousand years later. Tribes migrated hundreds of miles away, died, and their spawn pushed a little further. This continuous cascade of peoples through successive generations resulted in the pre-colonial America we read about in the history books.
These people, when arrived, did not (for the most part) live symbiotically. Warring tribes have been a constant on this continent- long before we ever arrived. In fact, the cultural and social evolution of most of the tribes were sculpted by the prospects, actualization, and fruits of war. Tribes were wiped out- although we see them as evolving. When an original tribal group of a few hundred commits to war, is reduced to a mere 50, and these 50 people, in order to survive, develop different customs- is there evolution? or devolution?
I guess what I’m saying is- the fact that we see ourselves today so different from the Indian peoples is what gives birth to the guilt we hold. The fact that we have such an enveloping term “Native Americans” and “Indians” is proof of this. The various tribes saw themselves different from one another just as we do the natives. If our genocide had breadth, theirs had depth.
Lastly, try and look at Whitman’s theme of the expansion to the west as a metaphor for the old world starting anew. The European settlers coming here with a clean slate, and open possibilities- thus, they were recreating humanity.

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