Sunday, 5 July 2009

Celebrating humanity and Walking with Walt Whitman

We are having a quiet restful day after our open house party all day yesterday. We are eating leftovers, relaxing and listening to the new internet radio. You too can listen again to Walking with Walt Whitman

Stuart Maconie meets devotees of Walt Whitman in Bolton and explores the history of the town's unlikely yet enduring relationship with the American poet.
A group of devoted fans established the Whitman Fellowship from 1885 onwards, and, although he never visited the town, Whitman developed strong ties through his correspondence with members of the group. Today, Whitman devotees gather for the annual Whitman Walk, to recite his works and share from Whitman's Loving Cup, a gift presented to his followers in Bolton in 1894.
Stuart joins this happy band of walkers and Whitmanites to discover why the poet is still celebrated there, nearly 120 years after his death.

It was a great programme with lots of real people reading Whitman's poems outside. It spoke to me of the democracy of poetry and words. One reading in particular helped me reflect on spending time with so many friends yesterday, the physical and emotional pleasure of being in human company.
To stop in company with the rest at evening is
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breath-
ing, laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them, to touch any one, to rest
my arm ever so lightly round his or her neck
for a moment—what is this, then?
I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it, as in
a sea.
There is something in staying close to men and
women, and looking on them, and in the con-
tact and odor of them, that pleases the soul
All things please the soul, but these please the
soul well.