Thankful Thursday 8 – Song of Myself

Grasses_in_the_Valles_Caldera_2014-06-26

Picture from wikipedia. ‘Cause that’s where I find everything.

I was reading Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” today. When I studied Whitman a little bit in high school and undergrad I remember not liking him. I don’t have any good reasons for that (at least not any that I remember), but a distaste for his work has stuck with me. Regardless, I was looking for a quote that I remembered, (which might appear in another post if I get it edited to my liking) and I found that it was from this poem.

The work isn’t something that I’d give to a kid, since it gets a little erotic in places, but I found the piece incredibly moving.

His meditation on grass in section six (I put the text at the bottom of this post) was particularly striking, perhaps because mortality is something I think about a lot these days. I love all the meanings he ascribes to something so simple: a remembrance of the creator, a symbol of the basic equality of all people, or the words of the dead communicating with us.

The whole tone of the poem is so hopeful. It embraces the potential and the nobility of humanity, and I’m always a sucker for stuff like that. It’s worth taking some time to read it. I found the whole thing online here.

Today I’m grateful that I could steal a few moments to think and reflect about my life, and I’m grateful for Whitman’s inspired and inspiring words.

6

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;

How could I answer the child? . . . . I do not know what it is any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child . . . . the produced babe of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;
It may be you are from old people and from women, and from offspring taken soon out of their mothers’ laps,
And here you are the mothers’ laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths
for nothing.

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken soon out of their laps.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?

They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.

All goes onward and outward . . . . and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

Exciting Developments in Homeschooling

Picture taken by Morgan Leigh at Linda's wedding. It has nothing to do with the post, but my kids look awesome. See more of her work at http://www.morganleighphotography.net/

Picture taken by Morgan Leigh at Linda’s wedding. It has nothing to do with the post, but my kids look awesome. See more of her work at http://www.morganleighphotography.net/

Bonnie and I have been planning on homeschooling our kids for a while. We’re not sure exactly how it’s all going to look, but Bonnie has been wanting to teach L to read for a while. She found an awesome book called Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and we’ve started working our way through it.

We finished lesson 9 this morning, and L sounded out the words “mat” and “sat.” After getting the words right, she ran through the house screaming, “I can read! I can read! I can read two whole words!” It was a great experience for everyone. I’m sure home schooling isn’t all sunshine and roses, but if I can get more moments like that with my kids, I think it will be totally worth it.

This could easily be a Thankful Thursday post, since I missed it yesterday. It’s one in spirit at least. Anyway, I’m excited to keep going in the book with L. I’ll keep you all updated as we get further through it.

 

Bonus Cute Kid Story: I made pizza with the kids for lunch today, and as I was rolling the crust out, L said, “What are you doing?”

“I’m rolling the crust out.”

“Are you rolling it out thin like a good wife.”

“What?”

“Like a good wife, are you rolling it thin?”

“Uhhhhh…sure.”

“Okay.”

I’m still not sure if she was saying that a good wife would roll thin pizza crusts or that a good wife would be really thin…

Thankful Thursday 1 (Friday Edition)

IMG_20131127_165956155After yesterday’s downer of a post, I thought I’d do something more positive today.

I used to have a blog where I would try and write something that I was thankful for every day. My history of failures with topical blogs is something I’ll talk about another day, but with this blog I very quickly ran out of original ideas. It’s possible that I’m an ingrate, (I wouldn’t rule that out), but coming up with something insightful or clever or interesting to be thankful for every day just wasn’t in the cards for me. That blog really jumped the shark when I started trying to use things that I was learning about in school as posts. (“I’m thankful for polymers because they make life possible…”)

The truth is that the things that I’m thankful for don’t change all that much day to day. I’m thankful for Bonnie and the kids, I’m thankful for my house, for the country I live in, for my chance to attend IU. I’m thankful for Christ and the gospel and the scriptures. I’m thankful for books and learning, for a naturally curious disposition and for all my great teachers. I’m grateful for a supportive and loving extended family, ward, and community.

Even though a daily gratitude blog isn’t in the cards for me, I think it’s still worthwhile to take some time and express my gratitude for the many, many good things in my life. Therefore this is the first installment of what I will call “Thankful Thursday.” Yes, I know it’s Friday. Stop being so literal. Now, knowing how I am, there will probably not be a gratitude post every Thursday, but I’ll make it a somewhat regular thing.

Probably.