Carly and Mary Tucker

Verse:

46

Reader:

Carly and Mary Tucker

Location:

Monroeville

Verse 46

I know I have the best of time and space, and was never measured and never will be measured.
 
I tramp a perpetual journey, (come listen all!)
My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut from the woods,
No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair,
I have no chair, no church, no philosophy,
I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, exchange,
But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll,
My left hand hooking you round the waist,
My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the public road.
 
Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,
You must travel it for yourself.
 
It is not far, it is within reach,
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,
Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.
Shoulder your duds dear son, and I will mine, and let us hasten forth,
Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go.
 
If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest the chuff of your hand on my hip,
And in due time you shall repay the same service to me,
For after we start we never lie by again.
 
This day before dawn I ascended a hill and look'd at the crowded heaven,
And I said to my spirit When we become the enfolders of those
          orbs, and the pleasure and knowledge of every thing in
          them, shall we be fill'd and satisfied then?
And my spirit said No, we but level that lift to pass and continue
          beyond.
 
You are also asking me questions and I hear you,
I answer that I cannot answer, you must find out for yourself.
 
Sit a while dear son,
Here are biscuits to eat and here is milk to drink,
But as soon as you sleep and renew yourself in sweet clothes, I
         kiss you with a good-by kiss and open the gate for your egress hence.
 
Long enough have you dream'd contemptible dreams,
Now I wash the gum from your eyes,
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life.
 
Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore,
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout, and laughingly dash with your hair.
Textual Analysis
Now the "perpetual journey" that Whitman has taken us on through this poem—a journey that has extended to the vastest regions of the cosmos, from the origins of the universe billions of years ago to billions of years hence, a journey of a dynamic shifting life force that can never be ...
Read More from WhitmanWeb
Textual Analysis

FILMMAKER’S NOTES

On the day we filmed, Carly was visiting with her grandmother Mary. It was really fascinating to watch them interact -- watching each assert her own personality alongside the other. Clearly these two are close and each is who she is.

In the video you see Carly rub her toes against her grandma's ankle, nestle her head against her shoulder when she gets sleepy…And when Carly wraps her arms around her grandma's neck and yells "Save me!" Mary's smile is large and she's there for the embrace.

Mary seemed poised and reserved. Carly, cheeky and funny. The wise grandparent and the just as wise grandkid. Teacher and student. Serious and goofy. With all this, Carly said that she and her grandma are a lot alike.

"We both like to read," Carly said. "And she likes grammar and so do I. Because it's all about people and things and places and what people do ... every time I go there, she has a LOT of books for me."

Carly's favorite book is Cam Jansen and the Mystery of Flight 54. (Coincidentally, over 35 years ago, I also adored the Cam Jansen series of books.) Cam's a super sleuth in the fifth grade with a photographic memory. She's a strong, smart, tells-it-like-it-is young person. I think Carly allowed our cameras to capture pretty clearly why she is drawn to that character.

Both of them also took the process of reading Verse 46 of "Song of Myself" very seriously.

"It was a great experience," said Mary. "I love poetry, and I taught Whitman when I was teaching high school, and it just took me back to those days."

"Every day either I [practiced the verse] in the morning and then I did it in the afternoon and before I went to bed," said Carly. "I was kind of nervous at first," she said, "and after I got done with it, I was very excited. Because everybody was telling me I had done so well!"

by filmmaker Jenn Crandall as told to writer Liz Hildreth