November 11th: Sending out invisible, constant currents does immense good

armory-square-hospital

Devoted the main part of the day, from 11 to 3.30 o’clock, to Armory-square hospital; went pretty thoroughly through wards F, G, H, and I — some fifty cases in each ward. In Ward H supplied the men throughout with writing paper and a stamped envelope each, also some cheerful reading matter. […]

My custom is to go through a ward, or a collection of wards, endeavoring to give some trifle to each, without missing any. Even a sweet biscuit, a sheet of paper, or a passing word of friendliness, or but a look or nod, if no more. In this way I go through large numbers without delaying, yet do not hurry. I find out the general mood of the ward at the time; sometimes see that there is a heavy weight of listlessness prevailing, and the whole ward wants cheering up. I perhaps read to the men, to break the spell… […]

He who goes among the soldiers with gifts, etc., must beware how he proceeds. It is much more of an art than one would imagine. They are not charity-patients, but American young men, of pride and independence. The spirit in which you treat them, and bestow your donations, is just as important as the gifts themselves; sometimes more so. […]

To many of the wounded and sick, especially the youngsters, there is something in personal love, caresses, and the magnetic flood of sympathy and friendship, that does, in its way, more good than all the medicine in the world… Many will think this merely sentimentalism, but I know it is the most solid of facts. I believe that even the moving around among the men, or through the ward, of a hearty, healthy, clean, strong, generous-souled person, man or woman, full of humanity and love, sending out invisible, constant currents thereof, does immense good to the sick and wounded.

~ Walt Whitman, recounted his wartime experience in a diaristic piece titled “Hospital Visits,” published in The New York Times in December of 1864


Source: Quote – Brainpickings. Passage found in Walt Whitman: Poetry and Prose. Photo: Armory Square Hospital (1865)

A temple – or a green field – a place to enter, and in which to feel.

forest-woods-morning

Whitman kept me from the swamps of a worse uncertainty, and I lived many hours within the lit circle of his certainty, and his bravado. Unscrew the locks from the doors! Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs! And there was the passion which he invested in the poems. The metaphysical curiosity! The oracular tenderness with which he viewed the world— its roughness, its differences, the stars, the spider— nothing was outside the range of his interest. I reveled in the specificity of his words. And his faith— that kept my spirit buoyant surely, though his faith was without a name that I ever heard of. Do you guess I have some intricate purpose? Well I have . . . for the April rain has, and the mica on the side of a rock has.

But first and foremost, I learned from Whitman that the poem is a temple— or a green field— a place to enter, and in which to feel. Only in a secondary way is it an intellectual thing— an artifact, a moment of seemly and robust wordiness— wonderful as that part of it is. I learned that the poem was made not just to exist, but to speak— to be company. It was everything that was needed, when everything was needed. I remember the delicate, rumpled way into the woods, and the weight of the books in my pack. I remember the rambling, and the loafing— the wonderful days when, with Whitman, I tucked my trowser-ends in my boots and went and had a good time.

~ Mary Oliver, from “My Friend Walt Whitman” in Upstream, Selected Essays


Notes:

Enough to live

aog62120

“It is only her in large portions of Canada that wondrous second wind, the Indian summer, attains its amplitude and heavenly perfection, — the temperatures; the sunny haze; the mellow, rich delicate, almost flavoured air: Enough to live — enough to merely be.”

Walt Whitman, Diary in Canada


Image Credit: The Laurentians in Quebec by Chicago Tribune. Quote: Thank you Perpetua.

Give me the Splendid, Silent Sun…

Sun, sunset, sunrise, walt whitman, birds, wheat, farm, poem, beautiful, God, nature, life, lifestyle, peace

GIVE me the splendid silent sun, with all his beams full-dazzling;

Give me juicy autumnal fruit, ripe and red from the orchard;

Give me a field where the unmow’d grass grows;

Give me an arbor, give me the trellis’d grape;

Give me fresh corn and wheat—give me serene-moving animals, teaching content;

Give me nights perfectly quiet, as on high plateaus west of the Mississippi, and I looking up at the stars…

~ Walt Whitman (1819–1892)

 

 

 


Related Posts:

  1. Miracles
  2. Life
  3. At This Point, You May Want to Park

Image Credit: crescentmoon06

Miracles…

Years ago, I had a former mentor school me on what he perceived was my “glass-half full” view of life.  He shared the Albert Einstein quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  The quote and his lesson stuck with me.  I came across Walt Whitman’s beautiful poem “Miracles” which was written 157 years ago.  My immediate thought was that while so much has changed – so much more has not changed at all.  Here’s “Miracles“:
Miracles
“Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.
To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.
To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves
—the ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?”

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Thank you Marina Kanavaki, the artist of “The Wood I Pink” (© marina kanavaki) for permitting me to share her work.  Marina was born in Athens, Greece.  She studied art and music in Athens and London including Classical piano, jazz improvisation and classical singing.  She is now a creative art director.  She has had her work shown in Smith΄s Gallery (London) and painting exhibitions in Epohes gallery, in Athens.

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