Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world









I thought of this poem recently...I suppose because in my memory of it, it seemed so alive and powerful, purposeful.  I couldn't remember its context (other than from the movie Dead Poets Society)  The internet is great when you want to quickly find a little tidbit of info.  (-;  Thought I'd share.  






image from: http://animal.discovery.com/guides/wild-birds/i-r/red-tailed-hawk.html


Walt Whitman


from Leaves of Grass, Book 3 (Song of Myself), the last poem:

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab 

    and my loitering.



I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,

I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.



The last scud of day holds back for me,

It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow’d wilds,

It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.



I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,

I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.



I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,

If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.



You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,

But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,

And filter and fibre your blood.



Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,

Missing me one place search another,

I stop somewhere waiting for you.


you can find more of the poem here: http://www.bartleby.com/142/14.html





from: http://dictionaryperson.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/yawp/



yawp

Perhaps you know this word from the work of that most American of poets, Whitman:
The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me…..  he complains of my gab and my loitering.
I too am not a bit tamed…..  I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
Song of MyselfLeaves of Grass, Walt Whitman, 18551
Webster’s Third defines it as “a raucous noise; foolish complaining talk; something suggestive of a raucous noise.”
The OED dates the noun “yawp” to 1824, but the verb form to around 1400.  Definitions there are:
a. A harsh, hoarse, or querulous cry, esp. of a bird.
b. fig. Applied in contempt to speech or utterance likened to this. Chiefly U.S.
Many of the poets (see Allen Ginsberg and the beats, for instance)  cherish this word; they identify with Whitman’s yawp.  Yawp in this sense embodies a stridency — confident,  assured,  and loud  — that will be heard, no matter what.
It is not to be confused with yap or yowl!

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