Why did several poems written by Walt Whitman have homosexual themes if he was not gay?

 

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Most scholars have debated over the years about Walt Whitman sexual orientation calling him the great gay free verse writer of all time. It said has over and over that Walt Whitman in many of his poems that he had wrote were about his male lovers in which his poems indicated a timeless romantic relationship with men throughout his career.  Due to his controversial sexuality in a great number of his poems he is often believed to have been gay, based on interpretation of his poetry.

According to the author Alan Helms how wrote an article called “Whitman’s “Live Oak with Moss” stated the fowling information: Almost forty years ago, while working on Whitman’s manuscripts for the third edition of Leaves of Grass, Fredson Bowers discovered that twelve of the poems had originally formed a sequence entitled “Live Oak with Moss,” which tells the story of Whitman’s unhappy love affair with a man. The author Helms declared that Walt Whitman “in his past works of poetry have include the topic of same sex involvement. According to Alan Helms, “Live Oak with Moss”, is indeed a story about Walt Whitman’s love affair with a man who he is very fond of, but yet his lover ends up abandoning him. However, critics have not taken upon themselves to explore this documentation further.

Furthermore, the author Helms noted that throughout Whitman’s 45 poems which include “Live Oak”   are written  in a manner that is suggestive to the fact that he includes a great deal of poems based on his sexuality.

Throughout his poetry, Whitman wrote about his love affairs, heartbreak and his experience with men. It has also been noted throughout history that Oscar Wilder’s famous recollection of Walt Whitman was when Walt kissed him; he stated: “The kiss of Walt Whitman is still on my lips.”According to the author Rictor Norton in 1925 it had been discovered that the original hand-written manuscript of the poem called “Once I Pass’d Through A Populous City” in which Whitman had reversed the sex of the man to a woman in order for it to look presentable to the public. The original poem stated the following:

Once I Pass’d Through A Populous City

Once I pass’d through a populous city imprinting my brain
for future use with its shows, architecture, customs,

tradition,

Yet now of all that city I remember only a man I casually

met there who detained me for love of me,

Day by day and night by night we were together — all else

has long been forgotten by me,

I remember I saw only that man who passionately clung to

me,

Again we wander, we love, we separate again,

Again he holds me by the hand, I must not go,

see him close beside me with silent lips sad and

tremulous.

The author Norton stated that the original poem perhaps is Whitman first homosexual experience in which he did not fully understand the implications of him being with a man. Needless to say, the writer goes on to give an account of Whitman coming out confessional poem in which Walt Whitman stated:

I share the midnight orgies of young men . . .
I pick out some low person for my dearest friend,
He shal be lawless, rude, illiterate, he shall be condemned by others for deeds done,
I will play a part no longer, why should I exile myself from my companions?

Furthermore the writer Rictor Norton noted that Whitman also wrote notebooks about his sexual encounters with men from different ages and background the notebook listed stated the following information:

Whitman’s notebooks of this period are filled with at least 150 such entries and  descriptions of bus drivers, ferry-boat men, and other “rude, illiterate” men that he met — picked up is really the only accurate word for it — in the streets of Manhattan, and “slept with,” often keeping notes of their home addresses. Excerpts from his Notebooks have been collected in Charley Shively’s Calamus Lovers: Walt Whitman’s Working Class Camerados (Gay Sunshine Press, 1987):

  • Peter — large, strong-boned young fellow, driver. . . . I liked his refreshing wickedness, as it would be called by the orthodox.
  • George Fitch — Yankee boy — Driver . . . Good looking, tall, curly haired, black-eyed fellow
  • Saturday night Mike Ellis — wandering at the corner of Lexington av. & 32d st. — took him home to 150 37th street, — 4th story back room — bitter cold night
  • Wm Culver, boy in bath, aged 18
  • Dan’l Spencer . . . somewhat feminine . . . slept with me Sept 3d
  • Theodore M Carr — came to the house with me
  • James Sloan (night of Sept 18 ’62) 23rd year of age — plain homely, American
  • John McNelly night Oct 7 young man, drunk, walk’d up Fulton& High st. home
  • David Wilson — night of Oct. 11 ’62, walking up from Middagh — slept with me
  • Horace Ostrander Oct. 22 ’62 — about 28 yr’s of age — slept with him Dec 4th ’62
  • October 9, 1863, Jerry Taylor, (NJ.) of 2d dist reg’t slept with me last night weather soft, cool enough, warm enough, heavenly.

The author Rictor Norton also make references to the fact that Walt Whitman in 1866 met Peter Doyle, a nineteen year old bus conductor in Washington D.C. Peter Doyle stated the following words “We were familiar at once — I put my hand on his knee — we understood.” It was this statement that has critics arguing over what this statement really meant. In addition to this statement, Norton noted that Doyle was also quoted as saying:

I never knew a case of Walt’s being bothered up by a woman. In fact, he had nothing special to do with any woman except Mrs. O’Connor and Mrs. Burroughs [his landlady and housekeeper]. His disposition was different. Woman in that sense never came into his head. Walt was too clean; he hated anything which was not clean. No trace of any kind of dissipation in him. I ought to know about him those years — we were awful close together.

If what Peter Doyle has said is to be true than the rumor of him having 6 legitimate children would be false.  In my research, I have not come across an article that pacifically eluded to the fact that he was ever romantically involved with a woman. It has not proven to be a fact. I have read many articles that pointed out the fact that Walt Whitman kissed and went to bed with several men throughout his lifetime. Some report that he did not try to hide the fact that he was gay, while other stated that he was afraid to come out of the closet. I do believe that Walt Whitman was in fact gay, however, if you consider the time frame of the nineteenth century in which homosexuality was viewed as being a taboo and the consequence of a man that would  publicly acknowledging  in the open that he is gay was not heard of in that timeframe as it is today’s world. In essence, the nineteenth century prevented him from telling the world that the great poet was in fact gay, and perhaps by incorporating it into his poetry was the only way to express himself.

As I was finishing my research I came across more of his poems which led me to believe that he was in fact America’s beloved gay poet. They include the following poems:

 

 

WE TWO BOYS TOGETHER CLINGING

We two boys together clinging

One the other never leaving
Up and down the roads going, North and South excursions making,
Power enjoying, elbows stretching, fingers clutching,
Arm’d and fearless, eating, drinking, sleeping, loving,
No law less than ourselves owning, sailing, soldiering, thieving, threatening,
Misers, menials, priests alarming, air breathing, water drinking, on the turf or the sea-beach

dancing,
Cities wrenching, ease scorning, statutes mocking, feebleness chasing,

Fulfilling our foray.

Calamus

When I heard at the close of the day how my name had been
receiv’d with plaudits in the capitol, still it was not a happy
night for me that follow’d,
And else when I carous’d, or when my plans were accomplish’d,
still I was not happy,
But the day when I rose at dawn from the bed of perfect
health, refresh’d, singing, inhaling the ripe breath of
autumn,
When I saw the full moon in the west grow pale and disappear
in the morning light,
When I wander’d alone over the beach, and undressing bathed,
laughing with the cool waters, and saw the sun rise,
And when I thought how my dear friend my lover was on his
way coming, O then I was happy,
O then each breath tasted sweeter, and all that day my food
nourish’d me more, and the beautiful day pass’d well,
And the next came with equal joy, and with the next at evening
came my friend,
And that night while all was still I heard the waters roll slowly
continually up the shores,
I heard the hissing rustle of the liquid and sands as directed to
me whispering to congratulate me,
For the one I love most lay sleeping by me under the same
cover in the cool night,
In the stillness in the autumn moonbeams his face was inclined
toward me,
And his arm lay lightly around my breast – and that night
I was happy.

 

When I heard at the Close of the Day
When I heard at the close of the day how I had
been praised in the Capitol, still it was not
a happy night for me that followed,
And else when I caroused nor when my favorite plans were
accomplished was I really happy,
But the day when I arose at dawn from the perfect
health, electric, inhaling sweet breath
When I saw the full moon in the west grow pale and
disappear in the morning light,
When I wandered alone over the beach, and undressing, bathed,
laughing with the waters, and saw the sun rise,
And when I thought how my friend, my lover, was on
his way coming, then O I was happy,
Each breath tasted sweeter and all that day my food
nourished me more and the beautiful day passed well,
And the next came with equal joy and with the next,
at evening, came my friend,
And that night while all was still I heard the waters roll
slowly continually up the shores,
I heard the hissing rustle of the liquid and sands, as directed
to me, whispering to congratulate me,
For the friend I love lay sleeping by my side,
In the stillness his face was inclined toward me, while the
moon’s clear beams shone
And his arm lay lightly over my breast and that night I was happy.

 

 

 
     

 

 

Resources:

http://www.whitmanarchive.org/criticism/current/anc.00154.html                                              

http://rictornorton.co.uk/whitman.htm

http://rictornorton.co.uk/whitman.htm (photo).

 

 

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Why would Emily Dickinson be called “The woman in white”?

It has been said that throughout Emily Dickinson earlier adolescent life that she wore different clothing styles and then later on in her adult she had begun to wear the color white and had in fact became obsessed with the color white. During her lifetime many people that knew her described her simply as “The woman in white.”

Today, many scholars have debated over why she had chosen to start wearing white dresses and attire. Some make mention that she was buried in white with a white coffin .While others have even debated over the fact that she had chosen to include the color white in her varies poems throughout her writings. According to the author Wesley King who wrote an article called “The White Symbolic of Emily Dickinson,” Dickinson, uses the word “white” in thirty of her various poems—which included a white bridal grown. King in his article he gives his readers a samples of such poetry, one was call “A solemn thing” It states:
A solemn thing – it was – I said –
A Woman – white – to be –
And wear – if God should count me fit –
Her blameless mystery –
A timid thing – to drop a life
Into the mystic well –
Too plummetless – that it come back –
Eternity – until –
I pondered how the bliss would look –
And would it feel as big –
When I could take it in my hand –
As hovering – seen – through fog –
And then – the size of this “small” life –
The Sages – call it small –
Swelled – like Horizons – in my breast –
And I sneered – softly – “small”!
The author King also included another poem that Emily Dickinson had written in reference to the color of white named, “A Spider sewed at Night” It begins:

A Spider sewed at Night
Without a Light
Opon an Arc of White –
If Ruff it was of Dame
Or Shroud of Gnome
Him Of Immortality
His strategy
Was physiognomy -self himself inform –
The author goes on to state that this poem is moreover a perfect example of a usage of rhyme, three stanzas, with each having three lines, which creates an atypical symmetry.

In comparison, the author J. Brooks Bouson wrote an article called “On Emily Dickinson,” In this article the author Bouson described Emily Dickinson as a nineteenth-century rebellious New Englander who was a nonconformist, eccentric reclusive, and a great original American poet who dressed in white. Bouson concluded that Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) is a popular American “iconic figure” that continues into the twenty-first century. The writer adds that the self- secluded Emily Dickenson wrote in one of her well-known poems referring to herself as “A Woman- white -to be-” in poem 307.
Furthermore, Bouson also mentioned that Emily Dickinson being dressed in white could have been interpreted as symbolic act. Perhaps it represented an abandoned bride’s gown. Or maybe it was a sign of a nunlike seclusion. Or maybe her desire to rise above her body and devote herself wholly to her transcendent when she dies. Many scholars claimed that she started to wear all white apparel after her father had passed away as a means of telling death that she was heaven bound and that deaths grip could no longer hold her back. While other critics have stated that she chose to wear white as a symbol of purity. Often times in many countries women who war all white dresses are virgins that wear white in order to let the community in which they live know that they have never been touched by a man. And these women tend to live with their parents until they are married.

To me with her being a female with her own distinctive individuality and being known for her unique collection of poems about love, death, nature, religion and heartbreak, there could have be a number of reasons why she had chosen to wear the color white. Perhaps maybe she wore the color white, because she just likes the color white. I don’t think the critic and scholars have ever thought of that as being the case.
In addition to this information the author J. Brooks Bouson made references to the fact that Dickinson never had any face-to-face contact with any of her visitors; she only spoke them behind screens or closed doors. I find this tidbit of information very fascinating, since I have read several books and various articles about Emily Dickinson. This is the first article that I had come across that said that she only spoke to people in this manner. WOW!!! If this information is in fact true than she would be considered a schizophrenic in the mental health field. Oftentimes people with schizophrenic may withdraw from the outside world. He or she may act out in confusion and be fearful of others in society.

Many Schizophrenic individuals have a hard time of talking to people in the same room. Many tend to walk around the room while you are trying to talk to them, while others will look at objects instead of looking at you. Some Schizophrenic individuals are very leery of people in general. However, I have met the most talented individuals who suffer from Schizophrenia. Many can sing or play instruments. You can see them perform in the subways or on the streets of Chicago. And most of them are in fact homeless today.

How many of you have seen the movie the Soloist in with Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. The movie is based on a true story about a talented homeless musician who suffered from schizophrenia and he has a hard time dealing with people. You’d have to see the movie for yourself, to see how it turns out.

Why would Emily Dickinson be called “The woman in white”?

It has been said that throughout Emily Dickinson earlier adolescent life that she wore different clothing styles and then later on in her adult she had begun to wear the color white and had in fact became obsessed with the color white. During her lifetime many people that knew her described her simply as “The woman in white.”

Today, many scholars have debated over why she had chosen to start wearing white dresses and attire. Some make mention that she was buried in white with a white coffin .While others have even debated over the fact that she had chosen to include the color white in her varies poems throughout her writings. According to the author Wesley King who wrote an article called “The White Symbolic of Emily Dickinson,” Dickinson, uses the word “white” in thirty of her various poems—which included a white bridal grown. King in his article he gives his readers a samples of such poetry, one was call “A solemn thing” It states:
A solemn thing – it was – I said –
A Woman – white – to be –
And wear – if God should count me fit –
Her blameless mystery –
A timid thing – to drop a life
Into the mystic well –
Too plummetless – that it come back –
Eternity – until –
I pondered how the bliss would look –
And would it feel as big –
When I could take it in my hand –
As hovering – seen – through fog –
And then – the size of this “small” life –
The Sages – call it small –
Swelled – like Horizons – in my breast –
And I sneered – softly – “small”!
The author King also included another poem that Emily Dickinson had written in reference to the color of white named, “A Spider sewed at Night” It begins:

A Spider sewed at Night
Without a Light
Opon an Arc of White –
If Ruff it was of Dame
Or Shroud of Gnome
Him Of Immortality
His strategy
Was physiognomy -self himself inform –
The author goes on to state that this poem is moreover a perfect example of a usage of rhyme, three stanzas, with each having three lines, which creates an atypical symmetry.

In comparison, the author J. Brooks Bouson wrote an article called “On Emily Dickinson,” In this article the author Bouson described Emily Dickinson as a nineteenth-century rebellious New Englander who was a nonconformist, eccentric reclusive, and a great original American poet who dressed in white. Bouson concluded that Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) is a popular American “iconic figure” that continues into the twenty-first century. The writer adds that the self- secluded Emily Dickenson wrote in one of her well-known poems referring to herself as “A Woman- white -to be-” in poem 307.
Furthermore, Bouson also mentioned that Emily Dickinson being dressed in white could have been interpreted as symbolic act. Perhaps it represented an abandoned bride’s gown. Or maybe it was a sign of a nunlike seclusion. Or maybe her desire to rise above her body and devote herself wholly to her transcendent when she dies. Many scholars claimed that she started to wear all white apparel after her father had passed away as a means of telling death that she was heaven bound and that deaths grip could no longer hold her back. While other critics have stated that she chose to wear white as a symbol of purity. Often times in many countries women who war all white dresses are virgins that wear white in order to let the community in which they live know that they have never been touched by a man. And these women tend to live with their parents until they are married.

To me with her being a female with her own distinctive individuality and being known for her unique collection of poems about love, death, nature, religion and heartbreak, there could have be a number of reasons why she had chosen to wear the color white. Perhaps maybe she wore the color white, because she just likes the color white. I don’t think the critic and scholars have ever thought of that as being the case.
In addition to this information the author J. Brooks Bouson made references to the fact that Dickinson never had any face-to-face contact with any of her visitors; she only spoke them behind screens or closed doors. I find this tidbit of information very fascinating, since I have read several books and various articles about Emily Dickinson. This is the first article that I had come across that said that she only spoke to people in this manner. WOW!!! If this information is in fact true than she would be considered a schizophrenic in the mental health field. Oftentimes people with schizophrenic may withdraw from the outside world. He or she may act out in confusion and be fearful of others in society.

Many Schizophrenic individuals have a hard time of talking to people in the same room. Many tend to walk around the room while you are trying to talk to them, while others will look at objects instead of looking at you. Some Schizophrenic individuals are very leery of people in general. However, I have met the most talented individuals who suffer from Schizophrenia. Many can sing or play instruments. You can see them perform in the subways or on the streets of Chicago. And most of them are in fact homeless today.

How many of you have seen the movie the Soloist in with Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. The movie is based on a true story about a talented homeless musician who suffered from schizophrenia and he has a hard time dealing with people. You’d have to see the movie for yourself, to see how it turns out.

Why would Emily Dickinson be called “The woman in white”?

Why would Emily Dickinson be called “The woman in white”?

It has been said that throughout Emily Dickinson earlier adolescent life that she wore different clothing styles and then later on in her adult she had begun to wear the color white and had in fact became obsessed with the color white. During her lifetime many people that knew her described her simply as “The woman in white.”

Today, many scholars have debated over why she had chosen to start wearing white dresses and attire. Some make mention that she was buried in white with a white coffin .While others have even debated over the fact that she had chosen to include the color white in her varies poems throughout her writings. According to the author Wesley King who wrote an article called “The White Symbolic of Emily Dickinson,” Dickinson, uses the word “white” in thirty of her various poems—which included a white bridal grown. King in his article he gives his readers a samples of such poetry, one was call “A solemn thing” It states:
A solemn thing – it was – I said –
A Woman – white – to be –
And wear – if God should count me fit –
Her blameless mystery –
A timid thing – to drop a life
Into the mystic well –
Too plummetless – that it come back –
Eternity – until –
I pondered how the bliss would look –
And would it feel as big –
When I could take it in my hand –
As hovering – seen – through fog –
And then – the size of this “small” life –
The Sages – call it small –
Swelled – like Horizons – in my breast –
And I sneered – softly – “small”!
The author King also included another poem that Emily Dickinson had written in reference to the color of white named, “A Spider sewed at Night” It begins:

A Spider sewed at Night
Without a Light
Opon an Arc of White –
If Ruff it was of Dame
Or Shroud of Gnome
Him Of Immortality
His strategy
Was physiognomy -self himself inform –
The author goes on to state that this poem is moreover a perfect example of a usage of rhyme, three stanzas, with each having three lines, which creates an atypical symmetry.

In comparison, the author J. Brooks Bouson wrote an article called “On Emily Dickinson,” In this article the author Bouson described Emily Dickinson as a nineteenth-century rebellious New Englander who was a nonconformist, eccentric reclusive, and a great original American poet who dressed in white. Bouson concluded that Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) is a popular American “iconic figure” that continues into the twenty-first century. The writer adds that the self- secluded Emily Dickenson wrote in one of her well-known poems referring to herself as “A Woman- white -to be-” in poem 307.
Furthermore, Bouson also mentioned that Emily Dickinson being dressed in white could have been interpreted as symbolic act. Perhaps it represented an abandoned bride’s gown. Or maybe it was a sign of a nunlike seclusion. Or maybe her desire to rise above her body and devote herself wholly to her transcendent when she dies. Many scholars claimed that she started to wear all white apparel after her father had passed away as a means of telling death that she was heaven bound and that deaths grip could no longer hold her back. While other critics have stated that she chose to wear white as a symbol of purity. Often times in many countries women who war all white dresses are virgins that wear white in order to let the community in which they live know that they have never been touched by a man. And these women tend to live with their parents until they are married.

To me with her being a female with her own distinctive individuality and being known for her unique collection of poems about love, death, nature, religion and heartbreak, there could have be a number of reasons why she had chosen to wear the color white. Perhaps maybe she wore the color white, because she just likes the color white. I don’t think the critic and scholars have ever thought of that as being the case.
In addition to this information the author J. Brooks Bouson made references to the fact that Dickinson never had any face-to-face contact with any of her visitors; she only spoke them behind screens or closed doors. I find this tidbit of information very fascinating, since I have read several books and various articles about Emily Dickinson. This is the first article that I had come across that said that she only spoke to people in this manner. WOW!!! If this information is in fact true than she would be considered a schizophrenic in the mental health field. Oftentimes people with schizophrenic may withdraw from the outside world. He or she may act out in confusion and be fearful of others in society.

Many Schizophrenic individuals have a hard time of talking to people in the same room. Many tend to walk around the room while you are trying to talk to them, while others will look at objects instead of looking at you. Some Schizophrenic individuals are very leery of people in general. However, I have met the most talented individuals who suffer from Schizophrenia. Many can sing or play instruments. You can see them perform in the subways or on the streets of Chicago. And most of them are in fact homeless today.

How many of you have seen the movie the Soloist in with Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. The movie is based on a true story about a talented homeless musician who suffered from schizophrenia and he has a hard time dealing with people. You’d have to see the movie for yourself, to see how it turns out.

Hi… my name is Mae Sendaba

Well hello fellow classmates !!! Nice to meet all of you!!! My name is Mae Sendaba. I’m a newbie to Jacksonville, AL. I moved here from Chicago,IL. I have an Applied Associate degree in Human Service with a minor in counseling. I’m currently majoring in Social Work, with a minor in Psychology. I love helping people and this is why I choose to become a Soical Worker. Oh, did I mention, that I’m a Christian who has a good sense of humor. I love to make people laugh…
You know what? strange as it may seem, I do miss the snow in Chicago, since I have moved here last Nov, I hadn’t seen any snow on the ground. I was so disappointed!!! I seen a few snowflakes, but that was it.
Did I also mention that I’m older than dirty??? LOL–just kinding… However, I ‘m older than most of you sitting here in this classroom. This is my second semester at JSU and I’m seeing more and more people my age returning back to college for one reason or another and I really do enjoy sitting among my younger peers. I’m learning alot from you younger students. Last week I finally found out about Skype !!!