Monday, March 30, 2009

Whitman's "Sound" Poem

Monday, March 30, 2009

I heard you solemn sweet pipes of the organ
as last Sunday morn I passed the church;
Winds of autumn as I walked the streets at dusk
I heard your long stretched sighs up above so mournful;
I heard the perfect Italian tenor singing at the opera;
I heard the soprano in the midst of the quartet singing;
Heart of my love, you too I heard with one of your wrists
around my head, heard the pulse of you when all was still
ringing little bells last night under my ear.

I get blissful shivers whenever I quote this poem. I'm not sure about the lines breaks or the punctuation, because I wrote it from memory. Read the poem aloud. Did you notice that Walt Whitman begins with a deep large sound and ends up with the almost imperceptible sound of the pulse at the end? Notice, too, how he uses sound in his repetition of letters. Listen to the sounds. Listen.

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