Tag Archives: Walt Whitman

 

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THE PLACE GRATITUDE FILLS IN A FINE CHARACTER

From the Philadelphia Press, Nov. 27, 1884

by Walt Whitman

Scene.—A large family supper party, a night or two ago, with voices and laughter of the young, mellow faces of the old, and a by-and-by pause in the general jovialty. “Now, Mr. Whitman,” spoke up one of the girls, “what have you to say about Thanksgiving? Won’t you give us a sermon in advance, to sober us down?” The sage nodded smilingly, look’d a moment at the blaze of the great wood fire, ran his forefinger right and left through the heavy white moustache that might have otherwise impeded his voice, and began: “Thanksgiving goes probably far deeper than you folks suppose. I am not sure but it is the source of the highest poetry—as in parts of the Bible. Ruskin, indeed, makes the central source of all great art to be praise (gratitude) to the Almighty for life, and the universe with its objects and play of action.

“We Americans devote an official day to it every year; yet I sometimes fear the real article is almost dead or dying in our self-sufficient, independent Republic. Gratitude, anyhow, has never been made half enough of by the moralists; it is indispensable to a complete character, man’s or woman’s—the disposition to be appreciative, thankful. That is the main matter, the element, inclination—what geologists call the trend. Of my own life and writings I estimate the giving thanks part, with what it infers, as essentially the best item. I should say the quality of gratitude rounds the whole emotional nature; I should say love and faith would quite lack vitality without it. There are people—shall I call them even religious people, as things go?—who have no such trend to their disposition.”

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Non, je ne regrette rien!

Du café, s’il vous plaît?

That is pretty much the extent of my French, but it really did do the trick. I’m sorry I was blog-free during my absence, but believe it or not I had quite a difficult time finding and maintaining an internet connection, first in the Dordogne and then (inexplicably) in Paris. I know you all want to know how the fairytale wedding was… There’s really only one word to describe it: Magical!

For the rest of the trip, these are the words I have:

Even excellent foi gras is not worth the cholesterol impact on one’s arteries.

Prehistoric cave art is absolutely breathtaking.

Drinks in the evening, at an outdoor café in Sarlat, with French friends and Edith Piaf playing in the background, truly made me question whether my life was perhaps a movie.

Having celiac and being the one to go on the breakfast run to the patisserie is a bad idea; I almost burst into tears.

It would be impossible for me to view Winged Victory of Samothrace too many times in my lifetime.

Yes, Shakespeare and Co. on the left bank IS. ALL. THAT.

Those silly hop on/hop off tourist boats running down the Seine are lovely ways to traverse the city but the tourists really just have to go.

Reading in the Jardin du Luxembourg, I discovered that Baudelaire is the anti-Walt Whitman, or as someone smarter than me remarked, “He’s Thanatos to Whitman’s Eros.”

It’s never too late to make new friends, and sometimes it’s downright easy.

I’m not brave enough to smuggle French sausage home in my suitcase for my nephew, no matter how much I love him.

Du café, s’il vous plaît?

How was your week? Did you drink enough coffee? What did you listen to and read?

 

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