Featured Poem: A Glimpse by Walt Whitman

As it is the Monday after Valentines day, I thought it seemed fitting to begin the week with a love poem, so as not to forget to celebrate love on a daily basis, as well as over Valentines.

I chose ‘A Glimpse’ by Walt Whitman because it is unique as a love poem in that it is not especially romantic, and it does not appear overtly excited by love. That is not to say however that it does not highlight love as something special, unique and important. In particular, I feel it demonstrates love as something constant, that maintains a subtle power to overcome the hustle and bustle of life we are regularly faced with.

In the poem, two people are placed in what is depicted as a busy and noisy bar ‘amid the noises of coming and going–of drinking and oath and smutty jest’. My immediate thought is that this might be a rather stressful setting for two people to meet and I wonder how this poem might take shape. However, through simplistic and subtle use of language, Whitman demonstrates an important recognition between two people of mutual contentment despite seemingly disruptive surroundings, where no beautiful descriptions are needed, no sunset, and no great gestures of love. ‘There we two, content, happy in being together, speaking little, perhaps not a word.’ They are sharing a moment through a mutual understanding that they love one another, and during this their surroundings become unimportant.

For me, Whitman highlights something special about love here which is that it has the power to remain constant and special throughout those everyday disruptions such as being in a busy and noisy room that can make life more trying, and instead, makes room for ‘a glimpse’ of escapism.

A Glimpse

A GLIMPSE, through an interstice caught,
Of a crowd of workmen and drivers in a bar-room, around the stove,
late of a winter night–And I unremark’d seated in a corner;
Of a youth who loves me, and whom I love, silently approaching, and
seating himself near, that he may hold me by the hand;
A long while, amid the noises of coming and going–of drinking and
oath and smutty jest,
There we two, content, happy in being together, speaking little,
perhaps not a word.

by Walt Whitman

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