Walt Whitman, Romance With a Stranger
The concept of brief encounters, even romantic encounters, with a stranger recurs often in the verses of Walt Whitman.
Take, for example, these lines from one of the inscriptions that Whitman wrote to his 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass.
Clearly, Walt Whitman sees brief, chance encounters with strangers as an appropriate opportunity for the strangers to interact. Perhaps the communication will allow the strangers to become friends.
In the lines of "To A Stranger," Whitman indicates that the strangers might become intimate and affectionate friends. The narrator in the poem is comfortably able to imagine himself creating a past history with the passing stranger and to foresee the opportunities for them to enjoy each other in physically affectionate ways.
Here's a line from "Song of the Open Road," written in 1860.
And from Whitman's "Carol of Occupations."
Also consider this excerpt from "Who Is Now Reading This?"
Walt Whitman's verses create a sense of comfort with the idea that strangers can longingly look at each other and act upon their impulses. Perhaps the next encounter will be with one's soulmate, as in the line, "You must be he I was seeking," from "To A Stranger."
It seems reasonable to presume that Walt Whitman met many strangers in his lifetime and enjoyed the encounters. It's been said that Whitman was one of America's first self-identified homosexuals and his lifestyle may have reflected his ease with and attraction to strangers.
"To A Stranger" is also known as "Calamus 22." "Calamus" is a series or cluster of 45 poems that were included in the editions of Leaves Of Grass.
The "Calamus" series is about "manly attachment," and it's a series in which Whitman will "tell the secret of my nights and days." Both quotes are from the first poem in the "Calamus" series.
Among the concluding lines in "To A Stranger," Walt Whitman says, "I am not to speak to you." a phrase typical of a man following orders, as in society's judgment against forbidden love. Yet undaunted and un-discouraged Whitman says, "I am to see to it that I do not lose you."
It seems that love, even with a stranger, will find a way.
To A Stranger
Passing stranger! you do not know
I have somewhere surely
You grew up with me,
You give me the pleasure of your eyes,
I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you
Garry Gamber is a public school teacher and entrepreneur. He writes articles about real estate, health and nutrition, and internet dating services. He is the owner of http://www.Anchorage-Homes.com and http://www.TheDatingAdvisor.com.
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