Walter Whitman – 3 notes about Walt

Historically speaking, did you know that:

American poetry that many readers think of as essentially “American”–free, open ended, rough and inclusive–came largely from poets in New Jersey, particularly Walt Whitman, Stephen Crane, William Carlos Williams, and Allen Ginsburg.

Whitman was born on Long Island but spent 20 years in Camden, N.J.

His “deathbed edition” or “Leaves of Grass” was prepared in 1891.

Ralph Waldo Emerson heralded Whitman as the poet for whom America had been waiting.


John Tamiazzo, PhD, is executive director of Verde Valley Humane Society.

… Seeing the smiles on their faces and listening to their positive attitudes, reminded me of a book I was currently reading on the life of American poet Walt Whitman, authored by Whitman’s personal physician, Richard Maurice Bucke, MD.

Buck spoke affectionately throughout his memoirs about Whitman’s demeanor.

He said that in the 20 years he knew Whitman he never argued or spoke unkindly about anyone. If literary critics spoke harshly about him or his writings, Whitman would simply say that they were absolutely correct in their criticism, thus lessening the emotion of the situation immediately.

Bucke wrote that the central teaching in Whitman’s poetry and lifestyle is that beauty is all around us and we just need to recognize and appreciate this beauty with our God-given senses.

Whitman strongly believed that we are missing out on the enjoyment of life when we long for things we don’t have or become judgmental too often.

Instead we can simply open our eyes to take notice and to see the bigger picture, open our ears to quietly listen, and open our hearts to a deeper wisdom and knowing of how much there is to be thankful for…

Bucke said that he never met a man who genuinely enjoyed so many things and people as Walt Whitman.

Whitman was kind, generous, gracious, and grateful. He was especially fond of children and animals. He exuded such enormous charm and love that he literally transformed the lives of everyone he met…


Allen Ginsberg poem – selected by Mark Frazel

Mark Frazel (Chicago USA)

Mark Frazel

I am a documentary filmmaker who lives in Chicago. This first poem I am submitting “A Supermarket in California” was written by the American poet Allen Ginsberg (1926 -1997). Ginsberg had studied at Columbia University in New York under the poet and critic Mark Van Doren who was influential in bringing attention back to Walt Whitman. Ginsberg’s poem imagines the poet Whitman in the contemporary setting of a grocery store in Berkeley, California, where Ginsberg was then living.


A Supermarket in California

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for

I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache

self-conscious looking at the full moon.

In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went

into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!

What peaches and what penumbras!  Whole families

shopping at night!  Aisles full of husbands!  Wives in the

avocados, babies in the tomatoes!–and you, Garcia Lorca, what

were you doing down by the watermelons?

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber,

poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery


I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the

pork chops?  What price bananas?  Are you my Angel?

I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans

following you, and followed in my imagination by the store


We strode down the open corridors together in our

solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen

delicacy, and never passing the cashier.

Where are we going, Walt Whitman?  The doors close in

an hour.  Which way does your beard point tonight?

(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the

supermarket and feel absurd.)

Will we walk all night through solitary streets?  The

trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we’ll both be


Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love

past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?

Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher,

what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and

you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat

disappear on the black waters of Lethe?


Berkeley, 1955  (From Collected Poems 1947-1980 by Allen Ginsberg Harper & Row. Copyright © 1984 by Allen Ginsberg)


Animated film of AG “reading” this poem


Please note:  Mark Frazel & I first met during “The Walt Whitman Show” – live streamed on Periscope. I am very grateful to Mark for his wonderful contributions to that (daily) show.  Thank you very much Mark.


Writer / producer Mark Frazel, 62, dies of heart attack


Mark Frazel

Versatile writer / filmmaker Mark Frazel, the husband and partner of Carey Lundin of Viva Lundin productions whose documentary, “Jens Jensen The Living Green,” recently won its 10th award, died July 4 from a sudden heart attack at St. Joseph Hospital. He was 62.

Frazel’s multi-award winning “Jensen” doc, now airing on national PBS stations, recently received a Medal of Honor from The Explorers Museum in Tullamore, Ireland, for his ability to render a story of how one person could accomplish so much and inspire so many.

“Mark’s own life story was not dissimilar from Jensen’s in that he believed in the value of nature and human decency,” said Lundin.

Frazel wrote and produced commercials for a wide variety of clients, including political spots for consultants Adelstein/Liston, and sales, marketing and recognition videos for NEC, and FMC.

His writing career included collaborating on the feature “Sweet Home Chicago,” based on a short story by Stuart Dybek and “Hands on Chicago,” Bonus Books, called “a mini-encyclopedia of Chicago, from Haymarket to Mayor Harold Washington.”

“He was a lion of knowledge with an incredibly voracious interest in the worlds of art, writers, celebrity, history, music and film. He will be remembered for his cutting wit and giant heart. He helped anyone who asked,” Lundin said.

A Chicago native raised in St. Barnabas’ parish of Beverly, Frazel was a 1985 graduate of the University of Notre Dame. His book “Hands On Chicago,” co-written with Kenan Heise, is an encyclopedia of Chicago history that was named Best Nonfiction Book of the Year in 1986 by the Illinois State Historical Society.

Frazel is survived by his wife Lundin and eight siblings, 13 nieces and nephews and many, many friends.

A memorial service will be held Sunday, Aug. 28 at St. Ignatius College Prep, 1076 W. Roosevelt, 12 noon to 3 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to restore the Humboldt Park Jensen Formal Garden: Chicago Parks Foundation, 541 N. Fairbanks, 7th floor, Chicago 60611.

Arrangements entrusted to Donnellan Funeral Home, 773/238-0075. Sign the guestbook at or share memories on

Walt Whitman’s birthday – new poem by Paul O’Mahony


Lines composed on the birthday of Walt Whitman (1819-2016)

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean” (Walt Whitman)

There’s a lot to be said for waking before dawn
in a strange bed
with friends next door
– especially if you stretch to a bookcase
crammed with unfamiliar words
fingering spines,
loafing at your ease.

Better still, when the bard of democracy calls:
Pick me, pick me, take me to your heart,
I’ll grow your spirit.
– his beard promising you adventure.
– a smattering of rain strumming on mullioned glass.
And you reply “Hey, why should my finger linger?
Why draw you to my side?”

The first light swells,
‘the wilderness of unopened life’ grips you,
and sings of ‘passion, pulse and power’
– as a barnacle to a rock.

Walt Whitman “Pioneers! O Pioneers!

First, a recording of a fine actor, Will Geer, reading “Pioneers! O Pioneers!

Second, a recording of this poem being live streamed.


The Walt Whitman Show on Periscope
(saved via Katch)


Pioneers! O Pioneers!

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, 10
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
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
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
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
All the hands of comrades clasping, all the Southern, all the
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
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
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
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
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 sleep–you have done your
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
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 day-break call–hark! how loud and clear I hear it
Swift! to the head of the army!–swift! spring to your places, Pioneers! O pioneers.



  1. I found the video on You Tube with the following information attached:
    Uploaded to You Tube on 11 Nov 2009 
    Vocals By Will Geer

“This is the full version of the poem that was used in the Levi “Go Forth” commercial. I added the backing music to spice it up a bit (thanks Garage Band) You can find the vocal portion of this (and other Whitman poems) on iTunes. I do not own the vocals –  however to take it down for copyright violation would be to down a little piece of America… Whitman….America…think about it”


2.  The Walt Whitman Show is live streamed on Periscope. I use the January 1892 “Death Bed Edition” of Leaves of Grass.  Walt died on 26 March 1892

Walt Whitman on Thanksgiving Day

Note:  I found this (via Google) published on Every Writer (1 November 2010)



by Walt Whitman

From the Philadelphia Press, Nov. 27, 1884, (Thanksgiving number)

whitmanScene.—A large family supper party, a night or two ago, with voices and laughter of the young, mellow faces of the old, and a by-and-by pause in the general joviality. “Now, Mr. Whitman,” spoke up one of the girls, “what have you to say about Thanksgiving? Won’t you give us a sermon in advance, to sober us down?” The sage nodded smilingly, look’d a moment at the blaze of the great wood fire, ran his forefinger right and left through the heavy white mustache that might have otherwise impeded his voice, and began: “Thanksgiving goes probably far deeper than you folks suppose. I am not sure but it is the source of the highest poetry—as in parts of the Bible. Ruskin, indeed, makes the central source of all great art to be praise (gratitude) to the Almighty for life, and the universe with its objects and play of action.

“We Americans devote an official day to it every year; yet I sometimes fear the real article is almost dead or dying in our self-sufficient, independent Republic. Gratitude, anyhow, has never been made half enough of by the moralists; it is indispensable to a complete character, man’s or woman’s—the disposition to be appreciative, thankful. That is the main matter, the element, inclination—what geologists call the trend. Of my own life and writings I estimate the giving thanks part, with what it infers, as essentially the best item. I should say the quality of gratitude rounds the whole emotional nature; I should say love and faith would quite lack vitality without it. There are people— shall I call them even religious people, as things go?— who have no such trend to their disposition.”