Sunday, April 15, 2012

My brain is singing to itself, repeating over and over the single line "Out of the cradle endlessly rocking" from Whitman's poem of the same name. For some reason it's a line that often rises up to me, always at unexpected moments, when I am not thinking about poetry or Whitman but about breakfast or mowing grass or hanging up shirts in the closet. It is a line that sounds like what it says; speak it aloud, and I nearly believe I am the cradle.

Out of the cradle endlessly rocking,
out of the forest, the hayrick, the foils of winter,
pale cling-tight leaves on the poplars,
brief green of melting river ice, brief green
of curious eyes among the lilac twigs.
Sparrow flit in the shadows: trash cans,
bicycles thick with rust. A fierce cold rises
from the broken soil.

is what I have just written, on the strength of that one singing line. And now I will remind myself of what else Walt wrote:

Out of the cradle endlessly rocking,
Out of the mocking-bird's throat, the musical shuttle,
Out of the Ninth-month midnight,
Over the sterile sands and the fields beyond, where the child leaving his bed wander'd alone, bareheaded, barefoot,
Down from the shower'd halo.
Up from the mystic play of shadows twining and twisting as if they were alive.

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