grass, loose the stop from your throat, Not words, not music or rhyme I want, not custom or lecture, not even the best Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice. It occurred to me sitting there that Tom was Walt Whitman, or as close to him as I was going to get in my lifetime. So, by some alchemical literary process I do not understand to this day, Walt Whitman became my confessor and courage-teacher. This is why Walt Whitman, or you, or I can cock our hats as we please indoors or out, because no matter who we are, we are just as good and just as necessary as everyone else. You cannot escape your malevolent Other. Like a lot of lost people, I assumed that my soul the other I am, to use Whitmans term for it was the problem, and that inviting it too openly, too nakedly, would send me right over the side of the Golden Gate Bridge. How is it with you?
The poet is constantly yearning to reach out to you; or reeling from contact with you; or entering into you, thinking your thoughts and feeling your feelings. Why not sit in a church basement full of strangers, as I did once toward the global health uw thesis end of that summer, crying like a baby because a woman had left me and I couldnt blame her? I was a young man who needed a good talking to, but also one yearning to be heard. Things didnt work out that way, but it wasnt for lack of trying. Leaves of Grass as, among other things, a sort of poetical pamphlet that could somehow sing the nation into unity. Dreams like those made jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge sickeningly attractive. If there is no wall between I and you, if we are all one and the same, whats the point of hiding one from the other? He was also an important formal innovator. There were some chuckles when Tom got to the bit about the aroma of his armpits being finer than prayer, but I didnt laugh. Leaves of Grass, but a lay reader is just as likely to note the second most important character in the poems, which is nearly always you.
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