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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Walt Whitman on sex: A Woman Waits For Me.

I'm interested in your thoughts on this poem.
Walt Whitman lived from 1819 - 1892.

A Woman Waits For Me

A woman waits for me--she contains all, nothing is lacking,
Yet all were lacking, if sex were lacking, or if the moisture of the
right man were lacking.

Sex contains all,
Bodies, Souls, meanings, proofs, purities, delicacies, results,
promulgations,
Songs, commands, health, pride, the maternal mystery, the seminal
milk;
All hopes, benefactions, bestowals,
All the passions, loves, beauties, delights of the earth,
All the governments, judges, gods, follow'd persons of the earth,
These are contain'd in sex, as parts of itself, and justifications of
itself.

Without shame the man I like knows and avows the deliciousness of his
sex, 10
Without shame the woman I like knows and avows hers.

Now I will dismiss myself from impassive women,
I will go stay with her who waits for me, and with those women that
are warm-blooded and sufficient for me;
I see that they understand me, and do not deny me;
I see that they are worthy of me--I will be the robust husband of
those women.

They are not one jot less than I am,
They are tann'd in the face by shining suns and blowing winds,
Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and strength,
They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle, shoot, run, strike,
retreat, advance, resist, defend themselves,
They are ultimate in their own right--they are calm, clear, well-
possess'd of themselves. 20

I draw you close to me, you women!
I cannot let you go, I would do you good,
I am for you, and you are for me, not only for our own sake, but for
others' sakes;
Envelop'd in you sleep greater heroes and bards,
They refuse to awake at the touch of any man but me.

It is I, you women--I make my way,
I am stern, acrid, large, undissuadable--but I love you,
I do not hurt you any more than is necessary for you,
I pour the stuff to start sons and daughters fit for These States--I
press with slow rude muscle,
I brace myself effectually--I listen to no entreaties, 30
I dare not withdraw till I deposit what has so long accumulated
within me.

Through you I drain the pent-up rivers of myself,
In you I wrap a thousand onward years,
On you I graft the grafts of the best-beloved of me and America,
The drops I distil upon you shall grow fierce and athletic girls, new
artists, musicians, and singers,
The babes I beget upon you are to beget babes in their turn,
I shall demand perfect men and women out of my love-spendings,
I shall expect them to interpenetrate with others, as I and you
interpenetrate now,
I shall count on the fruits of the gushing showers of them, as I
count on the fruits of the gushing showers I give now,
I shall look for loving crops from the birth, life, death,
immortality, I plant so lovingly now.

***
 

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So this was from the sniper/mass murderer who shot passersby from the top of the Texas Tower? He does seem pretty disturbed just from that.

It'd actually be kind of cool to read poetry of more serial killers/mass murderers, if there's anything else out there.
 

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So this was from the sniper/mass murderer who shot passersby from the top of the Texas Tower? He does seem pretty disturbed just from that.

It'd actually be kind of cool to read poetry of more serial killers/mass murderers, if there's anything else out there.
That was Charles Whitman. Walt Whitman lived in the 1800s.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
So this was from the sniper/mass murderer who shot passersby from the top of the Texas Tower? He does seem pretty disturbed just from that.

It'd actually be kind of cool to read poetry of more serial killers/mass murderers, if there's anything else out there.
I should have included his birthday so there was less confusion. Try reading the poem again with the understanding that it was written by an American essayist, journalist and poet, and see if it strikes you differently.

I would still appreciate your thoughts on it.

Skycloud, how do you see this poem?
 

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So this was from the sniper/mass murderer who shot passersby from the top of the Texas Tower? He does seem pretty disturbed just from that.

It'd actually be kind of cool to read poetry of more serial killers/mass murderers, if there's anything else out there.
that is too funny. (edit) I do the same thing with names all the time.
 

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It seems only women full of passion will do for him. He sees himself as master of all/full of passion and wants someone the same. He seems too demanding for me.
 

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Not if you haven't developed your own ego enough to know your own desires. Otherwise there is that danger of being swallowed up in someone else's agenda. Where later you realise that what you were doing was not really what you wanted to do.
 

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I should have included his birthday so there was less confusion. Try reading the poem again with the understanding that it was written by an American essayist, journalist and poet, and see if it strikes you differently.

I would still appreciate your thoughts on it.

Skycloud, how do you see this poem?
*facepalm* sigh.....lol. Typical of me.

Ok, so I am no expert on poetry, so I can't really say if it's good or bad.

I have to agree on Pc3000 on the "too passionate" critique, but I think it's a rule to overdo the passionate tone in poetry like that.
 

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I think this is pretty awesome for the Victorian sexually repressed era.

This especially:
They are ultimate in their own right--they are calm, clear, well-
possess'd of themselves.
Perhaps Whitman was making claim that if women were free to recognize and act more on their passions, there would not be hysteria.

They are not one jot less than I am,
How cool was he!! Equality. Woop woop!
They are tann'd in the face by shining suns and blowing winds,
Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and strength,
They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle, shoot, run, strike,
retreat, advance, resist, defend themselves,
Rock on! He added running. He would have loved what this American woman has become. :crazy:
 
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i'm probably far off the mark with this but here goes anyway....

as @pinkrasputin already mentioned, that's a very novel attitude in his poem towards women given that it's the Victorian era. further, i get the feeling that he's talking so glowingly of sexually experienced and sensually aware men and women:

"Without shame the man I like knows and avows the deliciousness of his sex,
Without shame the woman I like knows and avows hers."


if that "deliciousness" is to be taken literally, then he's also speaking of being so comfortable with yourself that you've tasted yourself. would it be reading too much into it to notice the bit about "the man I like"? love between men literally or just one man speaking of liking other men who are equally comfortable with their sexuality?

now here's the other major part that made me think: i think he's speaking of being attracted to black women than to the white. whitman writes in this poem:
Now I will dismiss myself from impassive women,

followed by these lines describing the "warm-blooded" women he is attracted to:
They are tann'd in the face by shining suns and blowing winds,
Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and strength,
They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle, shoot, run, strike,
retreat, advance, resist, defend themselves,


Victorian prudery put white women in straightjackets as far as sexuality was concerned. black people were, on the other hand, stereotyped as being much more uninhibited sexually. white women were certainly not encouraged to be physically active - look at even the garments of the era! the black women worked in the fields and led much more physically active lives. so i can see the "face being tanned by the sun" and all the physical accomplishments he mentions as better fitting black women of the times.

and then there is this bit in the beginning:
A woman waits for me--she contains all, nothing is lacking,
Yet all were lacking, if sex were lacking, or if the moisture of the
right man were lacking.


which to me sounds as if he speaks of a virgin whom it is arranged will marry him. he doesn't seem to consider her sexually "impassive" though:
Now I will dismiss myself from impassive women,
I will go stay with her who waits for me, and with those women that
are warm-blooded and sufficient for me


but that latter part makes me a little uncomfortable... is he saying that he will go marry this woman and take on the black women he had admired so much as his mistresses? because this woman who waits for him isn't bracketed with the impassive group or the warm-blooded (ie passionate) group.

the sexual politics seem to me to be further implicit in these lines:
I listen to no entreaties,
I dare not withdraw till I deposit what has so long accumulated
within me.

Through you I drain the pent-up rivers of myself,


that doesn't sound like a man who is willing to understand a "no". it sounds like a man saying that he is so full of pent up passion that evidently he feels the outlet for it is in these women. he dresses it up with a bit of talk about perfect men and women being born of these sexual relationships, but that seems to me to stand out.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
i'm probably far off the mark with this but here goes anyway....

as @pinkrasputin already mentioned, that's a very novel attitude in his poem towards women given that it's the Victorian era. further, i get the feeling that he's talking so glowingly of sexually experienced and sensually aware men and women:

"Without shame the man I like knows and avows the deliciousness of his sex,
Without shame the woman I like knows and avows hers."


Through you I drain the pent-up rivers of myself,[/I]

that doesn't sound like a man who is willing to understand a "no". it sounds like a man saying that he is so full of pent up passion that evidently he feels the outlet for it is in these women. he dresses it up with a bit of talk about perfect men and women being born of these sexual relationships, but that seems to me to stand out.
Don't worry that you may be off, caffeine_buff. Poetry speaks to each of us in different ways. Here's my take:

First, I love that Whitman values the passion, the strength, and open arms of a sensual, emotional woman.

He says:

Now I will dismiss myself from impassive women,
I will go stay with her who waits for me, and with those women that
are warm-blooded and sufficient for me;
I see that they understand me, and do not deny me;
I see that they are worthy of me--I will be the robust husband of
those women.


He "draws close to us." He "would do us good" and we are his equal:

They are not one jot less than I am,
They are tann'd in the face by shining suns and blowing winds,
Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and strength,
They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle, shoot, run, strike,
retreat, advance, resist, defend themselves,
They are ultimate in their own right--they are calm, clear, well-
possess'd of themselves.


I agree that this may relate to black women, but it could refer to any woman who was out of the norm in that era. Althletic, tan, strong. Back then, a tan on the face was regarded as very unseemly and most women kept to themselves in sitting rooms for sewing or music lessons, not drawing attention or participating in "manly" pursuits. The ones who did these things were likely very facinating to men. He liked a woman who was active and out there, yet calm and self-possessed. She knows who she is!

Without shame the man I like knows and avows the deliciousness of his sex,
Without shame the woman I like knows and avows hers.


However, to me, there is an undercurrent of no-apologies egocentricity that runs throughout the poem. He is the giver of life; he expects only perfection from his couplings, and he takes sex as his due. He sees himself as a god, a creator and benefactor, alluding that we should be thankful for his loving attention, as he has found us worthy ... of him.

I see that they are worthy of me--I will be the robust husband of
those women.


He will:

...pour the stuff to start sons and daughters fit for These States--I
press with slow rude muscle,
I brace myself effectually--I listen to no entreaties,
I dare not withdraw till I deposit what has so long accumulated
within me.

Through you I drain the pent-up rivers of myself,
In you I wrap a thousand onward years,
On you I graft the grafts of the best-beloved of me and America,
The drops I distil upon you shall grow fierce and athletic girls, new
artists, musicians, and singers,
The babes I beget upon you are to beget babes in their turn,
I shall demand perfect men and women out of my love-spendings,
I shall expect them to interpenetrate with others, as I and you
interpenetrate now,
I shall count on the fruits of the gushing showers of them, as I
count on the fruits of the gushing showers I give now,
I shall look for loving crops from the birth, life, death,
immortality, I plant so lovingly now.


I think I both love and fear the man who sees women this way.
 
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