Monday, May 16, 2005


Some lines from Whitman

This weekend I was thumbing through An American Procession, Alfred Kazin's peppery and opinionated survey of American lit. The author makes no pretense of being Olympian in his judgments--he allots a chapter to Thoreau, for example, but it's clear that he considers him a self-indulgent pain in the ass. Anyway, the book is also jammed with thousands of great quotations, including this tremendous description of Abe Lincoln by Walt Whitman: "I think well of the President. He has a face like a Hoosier Michael Angelo, so awful ugly it becomes beautiful, with its strange mouth, its deep cut, criss-cross lines, and its doughnut complexion." That really made me want to read Whitman's prose book from the same period, Specimen Days. It also made me hungry for an old-fashioned plain and a cup of coffee.

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