The Commons

The Commons. © Chris Bronsk 2015.

“The axe of the wood-cutter, the measured thud of a single threshing-flail, the crowing of chanticleer in the bard-yard, (with invariable responses from other bard-yards,) and the lowing of cattle—but most of all, or far or near, the wind—through the high tree-tops, or through low bushes, laving one’s face and hands so gently, this balmy-bright noon, the coolest for a long time (Sept. 2)—I will not call it sighing, for to me it is always firm stance, cheery expression, though a monotone, giving many varieties, or swift or slow, or dense or delicate. The wind in the patch of pine woods off there—how sibilant. Or at sea, I can imagine it this moment, tossing the waves, with spirits of foam flying far, and the free whistle, and the scent of the salt—and that vast paradox somehow with all its action and restlessness conveying a sense of eternal rest.” —Walt Whitman, “Distant Sounds,” Specimen Days

(“I will not call it sighing…” No, call it singing. The link above on the book title takes you to an excerpt in Slate of Leslie Jamison’s lovely introduction to the recently issued Melville House edition of Specimen Days and Collect.)

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