WHEN LILACS LAST IN THE DOORYARD BLOOM’D
- Like so many of the major elegies in poetic tradition, Lilacs hymns not only its ostensible subject, Present Abraham Lincoln, but also the possible waning of the poet’s own imaginative powers.
- The tallying chant is whole Lilacs, and the full-voiced closing pragmatically redefines the tally for us as being at once celebration and lament. The image of Whtman’s voice thus fuses freedom and death, a death, though, that is Walt’s own invention, indistinguishable from the night and the mothering sea.
lilac: 紫丁香; threnody: 悲歌; castration: 阉割
- His [Whitman] aesthetic strength is personal, whether he celebrates or laments divisions in the self. And his healing power, his greatest gift, is contrary to prophecy. Prophets do not heal; they exacerbate. I reread and teach Moby-Dick to uncover and appreciate the sublimity and the danger of American Promethean heroism. But several prolonged times when close to death, I have recited Whitman to myself as medicine.
tripartite: 三方; epitome: 缩影; harpoon: 鱼叉; consonance: 合音; inexorable: 残酷; fright: 惊骇
II. RALPH WALDO EMERSON and EMILY DICKINSON
- In Whitman and Hart Crane, Christopher Columbus is the tragic precursor who first encounters America-as-daemon. Anyone who has sailed the North Atlantic, even in the late 1940s, will recognize the relief of reaching the American shore after many days and nights floating across an abyss of space and time.
- The American difference that constitutes our sublime breaks from English and Continental models by an askesis of the psyche, isolating the daemonic element that exalts seeing at the expense of our awareness of other selves. A profound solipsism ensues, though oddly marked by a more open rhetoric. Whitman is the greatest instance of such a figure of capable imagination, proclaiming as he does his total incorporation of what was, is, or can be, while celebrating a more concealed inwardness than even those of Melville, Hawthorne, … … Hart Crane, tragically the most Orphic of American poets, is the fascinating exception, as his letters and friends testify. Like John Keats, he had a truer sense of other selves than most of us can attain. From the start, Crane knew his doom, in the mode of a Faulknerian hero.
creeds: 信条; solipsism: 唯我主义; Orphic: 俄耳甫斯