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A precious mouldering pleasure…

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‘Timoleon, Etc.

‘Timoleon, Etc.: An online electronic text of the first edition (1891)’ by Herman Melville and Paul Royster (editor & depositor)

It’s sadly interesting that Timoleon, Etc., Herman Melville’s last published book, had a print run of only 25 copies. Think about that. The man who wrote one of the classic American novels of the 19th century (Moby Dick) finished his writing career in utter obscurity. For readers interested in the title poem “Timoleon”, compare with Plutarch’s life of Timoleon.

Happy 100th Birthday, J. Alfred Prufrock

“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” Turns 100 at the Poetry Foundation. This article provides some backstory on how Eliot’s early modernist poem came to be published.

Preface to Leaves of Grass, 1855

Walt Whitman

AMERICA does not repel the past or what it has produced under its forms or amid other politics or the idea of castes or the old religions . . . . accepts the lesson with calmness . . . is not so impatient as has been supposed that the slough still sticks to opinions and manners and literature while the life which served its requirements has passed into the new life of the new forms . . . perceives that the corpse is slowly borne from the eating and sleeping rooms of the house . . . perceives that it waits a little while in the door . . . that it was fittest for its days . . . that its action has descended to the stalwart and wellshaped heir who approaches . . . and that he shall be fittest for his days.

The Americans of all nations at any time upon the earth have probably the fullest poetical nature. The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem. In the history of the earth hitherto the largest and most stirring appear tame and orderly to their ampler largeness and stir. Here at last is something in the doings of man that corresponds with the broadcast doings of the day and night. Here is not merely a nation but a teeming nation of nations. Here is action untied from strings necessarily blind to particulars and details magnificently moving in vast masses. Here is the hospitality which forever indicates heroes . . . . Here are the roughs and beards and space and ruggedness and nonchalance that the soul loves. Here the performance disdaining the trivial unapproached in the tremendous audacity of its crowds and groupings and the push of its perspective spreads with crampless and flowing breadth and showers its prolific and splendid extravagance. One sees it must indeed own the riches of the summer and winter, and need never be bankrupt while corn grows from the ground or the orchards drop apples or the bays contain fish or men beget children upon women. Continue reading

Leaves of Grass (1855 first edition)

Walt Whitman

I CELEBRATE myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease . . . . observing a spear of summer grass.

Houses and rooms are full of perfumes . . . . the shelves are crowded with perfumes,
I breathe the fragrance myself, and know it and like it,
The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.

The atmosphere is not a perfume . . . . it has no taste of the distillation . . . . it is
odorless,
It is for my mouth forever . . . . I am in love with it,
I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked,
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.

Continue reading