Poetry in America: Whitman | HarvardX on edX | Course About Video

Poetry in America: Whitman | HarvardX on edX | Course About Video

ELISA NEW: This course is
an opportunity for students everywhere to talk about poetry. What aspect of war is
Whitman helping us see here? SPEAKER 1: He’s now looking at
more of the human aspect, and like, the realistic– just what people
are doing when they’re not fighting. And, kind of, a less
glamorous side of war, like just making it through
a river on your horse and getting to the other side. ELISA NEW: The course is set where
the history of American poetry began. SPEAKER 2: It just feels right. This is where he started,
in essence, as a poet. SPEAKER 3: Well, this was a printing
and publishing neighborhood. So, this shop dates to 1875
as an exhibit of the museum. And at that time, there were
as many as 800 printing offices in this neighborhood. SPEAKER 2: Amazing. And it just fits because we just walked
through the newspaper industry, which wasn’t that far away. So the printing business,
really all concentrated on this Lower East Side of Manhattan. ELISA NEW: At the center of
this course, is conversation. George Oppen gives the last part
of his poem over to a quotation, from Walt Whitman– ELENA KAGAN: If I’m a judge and I have
this amazing quote from Louis Brandeis. I mean, man, I make
sure to use that quote. ELISA NEW: You’re darn right. That’s right. ELENA KAGAN: Because
it’s an amazing quote, and because Louis Brandeis said
it, gives me a kind of credibility. ELISA NEW: Because the
law is historical– ELENA KAGAN: And because
the law is historical, and one judge builds on another
judge, builds on another judge. And one case builds
on another case, but I wouldn’t have thought the
poetry works quite the same way. I would have thought that poetry
is much more, every person wants to be creative, and original,
and innovative, in ways that the judges actually
would not want to do. ELISA NEW: We offer you
the opportunity to think through a poem, which is a
very, very active process. Do any you feel
uncomfortable about Whitman standing around watching slave auctions? SPEAKER 3: I think as we said
before, that looking at it now, it’s, from my perspective, as long
as you’re sitting there not saying something against it, it’s almost as
if you’re saying it’s OK to happen. ELISA NEW: What position do
these lines put the speaker in? I’m just wondering what this poet might
be working through in these lines. SPEAKER 4: I feel like he’s,
kind of, just there to– I mean he’s almost crying
about it, really. Like, for me, at least. Because it seems like he’s sort
of sad, and that he’s going there, and he is like, why is this happening? How could this be? But I don’t feel like there’s
really anything he can do about it. ELISA NEW: This is a course that
allows you to encounter poems. If you are in New York
someday, take this poem and walk out to the middle of the
Brooklyn Bridge, or take the ferry and read it to yourself,
letting Whitman guide you around the sites he saw in the river. And I think you will have an
experience of communing with this poet, you’ll find quite moving.

1 thought on “Poetry in America: Whitman | HarvardX on edX | Course About Video”

  1. @Harvard University's new free online course on the Poetry of Walt Whitman starts today — enroll now: http://ow.ly/GYmjn

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