Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Whitman's Grant elegy

A few days ago, Dimitri (it's good to have him back) posted and praised the Ambrose Bierce poem "The Death of Grant."  That's a Bierce piece I hadn't encountered before, an impressive read in many ways, although I do not like how it overflows with the notion of Grant the unreflective man.

Here's what Walt Whitman had to say about the big man's passing.

DEATH OF GENERAL GRANT

As one by one withdraw the lofty actors,
From that great play on history's stage eterne,
That lurid, partial act of war and peace—of old and new con-
         tending,
Fought out through wrath, fears, dark dismays, and many a long
         suspense;
All past—and since, in countless graves receding, mellowing,
Victor's and vanquish'd—Lincoln's and Lee's—now thou with
         them,
Man of the mighty days—and equal to the days!
Thou from the prairies!—tangled and many-vein'd and hard has
         been thy part,
To admiration has it been enacted! 
 
Meh.  Not Walt's best work.

1 comment:

  1. Chris EvansMarch 30, 2014

    Bierce always had something interesting to say about Grant. I don't always agree with it but it sure is fun to read.

    I also love Bierce's definition of President from 'The Devil's Dictionary' that still applies to this day:
    PRESIDENT, n.
    The leading figure in a small group of men of whom -- and of whom only -- it is positively known that immense numbers of their countrymen did not want any of them for President.

    If that's an honor surely 'tis a greater
    To have been a simple and undamned spectator.
    Behold in me a man of mark and note
    Whom no elector e'er denied a vote! --
    An undiscredited, unhooted gent
    Who might, for all we know, be President
    By acclimation. Cheer, ye varlets, cheer --
    I'm passing with a wide and open ear!
    Jonathan Fomry

    Chris

    ReplyDelete

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