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hat tip- happyacres
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Walt Whitman had imagined his poetry would be read by American workers. But his most receptive audience was the British intelligentsia:
Those responses to Whitman may sound strange to 21st-century ears, trained by decades of aesthetically oriented criticism to ignore poetry's religious dimensions. However, in the 19th century, many readers were receptive to the concept of the poet-prophet. As organized religion began to lose its cultural authority in the face of challenges from Enlightenment philosophers, biblical scholarship, and scientific discoveries, poets filled the spiritual void for many readers. William Blake, creator of elaborate private mythologies that cast the human imagination as the universe's divine creative force, was the first English-language poet to be widely regarded as a prophet.
The path toward a religious appreciation of Whitman was prepared not only by Blake's prophetic poetry but by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Critics have long recognized Emerson's literary influence on Whitman: Emerson's essay "The Poet," which calls for a uniquely American verse, served as a sort of template for Leaves of Grass. And they have noted his material aid to the poet (his letter to Whitman calling Leaves of Grass "the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed" saved Whitman's self-published first edition from sinking into obscurity). Yet even more important, Emerson's work as a whole helped to prepare readers for the liberal, post-Christian spirituality that pervades Leaves of Grass.
Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. Each state determines their own regulations. If the NEA had it their way it would be banned. Thankfully for freedom's sake they have failed in their attempts to strip parents of educational choice and basic parental rights.