In a time of grief and gravity and gratitude for some wonderfully-lived lives, I happen to find myself reading Mark Doty’s book What Is the Grass? Walt Whitman in My Life.
And I find this paragraph; and for now, I need add nothing more.
The dead are not lost, but in circulation; they are involved in the present, in active participation. Bits of them are streaming through your hand and mine, just as language is circulating through us. Lexicon and materiality forever move onward and outward in the continuous wheeling expansion this world is. This is no mere philosophical proposition on Whitman’s part, not an intellectual understanding but a felt actuality. We are alive forever in the endless circulation of matter. Nothing luckier, stranger, or more beautiful could ever happen. There is no better place.
“In circulation”: god, I love that. Thanks. This book is in my stack, but aside from a Sealey challenge poetry binge, I’m not digging into the stack deeply or quickly enough!
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It has been a timely read for me, as I process my my father’s death and think of other loved ones–including several who died long ago from AIDS (which Doty writes about in one section of this book). I evolved into a Whitman fan over years, and for different reasons than Doty explores in the book; but his relationship to the poems has deepened my own understanding. Don’t rush to get to it…take your time. It is worth the time.