Poets to Come

Tonight I was filing through my library in the basement to try and find something to read.  The last three books I’ve tried to start have been false starts, mostly because I had a hard time getting into them.  When that happens, 98% of the time I can’t just power through, I have to stop and try something else.  So, going through my collection in the basement, I came up with 5 books that I have read, but through the magic of ECT, are new to me. In no particular order, they are:

“The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein (actually I read this book just over a year ago, but I loved it)
“The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy
“Nothing Special; Living Zen” by Charlotte Joko Beck
“Plath: Poems” Selected by Diane Wood Middlebrook
“Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman

The last two are primarily for reference for me and the things I write.  I don’t plan on reading them cover to cover.  But, after opening “Leaves of Grass” at random spots and reading a poem or two, I find myself humbled.  I can’t help but wonder at what people were thinking when they originally gave his works poor reviews.  I know that it doesn’t always take a poets 50-100 years for their work to be appreciated.  I look at Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, and even Allan Ginsburg and I can see that time frame is inaccurate.  Then I look at myself and I start to wonder whether or not I might become famous for my writing.  What do I have to do to get my work in front of the right person?  Who is that right person?  And of course, it wouldn’t be a good course of self examination if I didn’t ask the ultimate question:  Am I good enough to even be mentioned with the likes Whitman, Plath, Angelou, Giovanni and Ginsburg?  I guess only time will tell.

Here’s one of my favorites by Whitman, as an inscription to “Leaves of Grass”


Poets to come! orators, singers, musicians to come!
Not to-day is to justify me and answer what I am for,
But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental, greater than before known,
Arouse! for you must justify me.

I myself but write one or two indicative words for the future,
I but advance a moment only to wheel and hurry back in the darkness

I am a man who, sauntering along without fully stopping, turns a
casual look upon you and then averts his face,
Leaving it to you to prove and define it,
Expecting the main things from you.

———-  I feel like Whitman has thrown down the gauntlet with this inscription.  Now all I have to do is try to live up to that challenge.  Damn!

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