A Letter to Walt Whitman

12 May, 2012

Dear Mr Whitman,


I am one of your biggest admirers, “Song of Myself” in the “Leaves of Grass” was amazing, and I got new inspirations every time I read it. It feels fantastic to be able to write a letter to you. I am just an “ordinary” high school student that lives in the 21th century, but I guess you wouldn’t agree with me, everyone is extraordinary, right?


In the 21th century, we’ve categorised all the poems into different eras, you are considered to be the greatest Romantic poet in America. I found your poems show incredible imageries of nature. In the first section, I remembered clearly about the atmosphere of nature. “I am mad for it to be contact with me.” “Mad” what a strong adjective to use! The world now has been polluted so much I think I haven’t seen blue skies since 20thcentury. Therefore I could not relate to your passion at that time, however I feel the same enthusiasm when you said, “observing a spear of summer grass”. I can imagine myself lying on the ground, enjoying the sunshine, and “loafe” the whole day. That happiness is unforgettable and irreplaceable, only provided by the nature.


I also admire the way you interpret life and death. Most of the people agree it is lucky to be born, but not many of them think so for death as you do. Many of Goethe’s character even considered suicide. Faust in the tragic play “Faust” was the smartest man on the world, but one day he realised he could never fully understand the world, so pondered suicide. He ended up meeting Mephistopheles, then decided to make every second counts, therefore in his case, life is all about adventure. Remember in section 24, “A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books”. Sounds like wisdom doesn’t attract you more than nature, so does that mean you will support Faust’s idea? Live your life to its fulfil?


Talking about other Romantic poets, usually they write about their personal romance, like Goethe and Keats. Many of Romantic poets experienced and understand the impossibility of happy love, and that’s their inspiration. Why didn’t you write anything about your personal love affairs? However, you wrote a lot about physical love – sex. Are you aware that it might bring uncomfortableness to the public? I’m not criticising you, I understand the reason of you using sexual reference, because it is a perfectly natural thing to do, even essential for us, but I did not expect anything more than one stanza about “Urge and urge and urge, Always the procreant urge of the world.” in any poetry.  Have you ever thought it might be too undisguised for the literature at that time?


It would be very nice of you if I could see your reply; I still have a couple of questions for your poems. You are one of the most important poets of the American history. I truly appreciate your time for reading my letter, hope I could write you to again soon, if possible.


Warmest wishes

Ariel Ho

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