Robin, Nathan and the Golden Tiger

Verse:

20

Reader:

Robin, Nathan and the Golden Tiger

Location:

Tuskegee

Verse 20

Who goes there? hankering, gross, mystical, nude; 
How is it I extract strength from the beef I eat? 
 
What is a man anyhow? what am I? what are you? 
 
All I mark as my own you shall offset it with your own, 
Else it were time lost listening to me. 
 
I do not snivel that snivel the world over, 
That months are vacuums and the ground but wallow and filth. 
 
Whimpering and truckling fold with powders for invalids, conformity goes to the fourth-remov’d, 
I wear my hat as I please indoors or out. 
 
Why should I pray? why should I venerate and be ceremonious? 
 
Having pried through the strata, analyzed to a hair, counsel’d with doctors and calculated close, 
I find no sweeter fat than sticks to my own bones. 
 
In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barley-corn less, 
And the good or bad I say of myself I say of them. 
 
I know I am solid and sound, 
To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow, 
All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means. 
 
I know I am deathless, 
I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by a carpenter’s compass, 
I know I shall not pass like a child’s carlacue cut with a burnt stick at night. 
 
I know I am august, 
I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be understood, 
I see that the elementary laws never apologize, 
(I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I plant my house by, after all.) 
 
I exist as I am, that is enough, 
If no other in the world be aware I sit content, 
And if each and all be aware I sit content. 
 
One world is aware and by far the largest to me, and that is myself, 
And whether I come to my own to-day or in ten thousand or ten million years, 
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can wait. 
 
My foothold is tenon’d and mortis’d in granite, 
I laugh at what you call dissolution, 
And I know the amplitude of time. 
Textual Analysis
The great American composer Charles Ives set the opening lines of this section to music. Ives was fascinated with the way Whitman asks the most basic questions—"what am I? what are you?"—and complicates those questions by proposing another: "How is it I extract strength from the beef I eat?" How do ...
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Textual Analysis

FILMMAKER’S NOTES

I've loved football since I was eight years old and played quarterback on the field at recess. To me, there's almost nothing prettier than watching a tightly wound spiral travel a long arc then somehow land safely down field in the arms of another.

Every fall, on T.V., on the radio, online, you get plenty of football coverage in Alabama. It's in the air and you couldn't tune it out if you wanted to. So I thought, let's see if we can get up close to it. I wanted to delve into a game day and meet some of the people that make it special. Tuskegee University opened up their field and sidelines to us for their homecoming game and gave us their all.

You couldn't be in Cleve Abbott Stadium and not get swept up in the energy. There was a richness and texture of sound and spirit that resonated between the team, the students and the community. Our small team parachuted in with little warning but each who read for us (Robin, a piperette; Nathan, a player; and the Golden Tiger) was patient and giving, considering all the excitement and activity that we were distracting them from.

Every blast from the trumpet section, every golden flag, crowd reaction, dance move, all down to how a player taped up his cleats--we wanted to see and capture it all and that's how I missed that Tuskegee blew a pretty big lead in the third quarter to lose the game. Hopes of an SIAC title were lost with it too. I didn't realize they'd lost until a few minutes after the game ended. By then I had greeted a player, I was all amped up and jovial from the day, and didn't understand why he was telling me it was going to be too hard to read for us. It took me a few beats, and then I felt like an ass.

As a documentarian, I want to pay attention to every single thing happening, physical and emotional, at all times. I know that's how my teammates that day, Bob Miller and Ginnard Archibald, feel as well. But you just can't, and there are times you turn around and, while you were focusing on a neat moment in front of you, behind you the course of things has changed and you hope you haven't blown it too.

Fortunately for us, at the last minute, Nathan Johnson stepped in for the teammate who no longer felt like reading. So, thank you again Robin, Nathan and Golden Tiger for giving part of your day to us. Amidst all the commotion and emotion, and even with a huge loss, you gave yourselves to the game and to some old poetry.

By Jennifer Crandall, as told to writer Danielle Starkey