The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Tuesday

By Walt Whitman

I was asking for something specific and perfect for my city,
Whereupon lo! upsprang the aboriginal name.

Now I see what there is in a name, a word, liquid, sane,
    unruly, musical, self-sufficient,
I see that the word of my city is that word from of old,
Because I see that word nested in nests of water-bays,
Rich, hemm'd thick all around with sailships and
    steamships, an island sixteen miles long, solid-founded,
Numberless crowded streets, high growths of iron, slender,
    strong, light, splendidly uprising toward clear skies,
Tides swift and ample, well-loved by me, toward sundown,
The flowing sea-currents, the little islands, larger adjoining
    islands, the heights, the villas,
The countless masts, the white shore-steamers, the lighters,
    the ferry-boats, the black sea-steamers well-model'd,
The down-town streets, the jobbers' houses of business, the
    houses of business of the ship-merchants and money-
    brokers, the river-streets,
Immigrants arriving, fifteen or twenty thousand in a week,
The carts hauling goods, the manly race of drivers of horses,
    the brown-faced sailors,
The summer air, the bright sun shining, and the sailing
    clouds aloft,
The winter snows, the sleigh-bells, the broken ice in the
    river, passing along up or down with the flood-tide or
The mechanics of the city, the masters, well-form'd,
    beautiful-faced, looking you straight in the eyes,
Trottoirs throng'd, vehicles, Broadway, the women, the
    shops and shows,
A million people--manners free and superb--open voices--
    hospitality--the most courageous and friendly young
City of hurried and sparkling waters! city of spires and masts!
City nested in bays! my city!


For the past several days the news has been nearly ten degrees off in predicting the temperature every day...Sunday at the ball game we were not expecting to melt in the parking lot, and Monday it was over 90 degrees in Alexandria even by the water! We had a nice day anyway, though we did not end up going aboard the replica of the Godspeed, one of the three ships that came from England to establish the Jamestown colony in 1607; the lines were over two and a half hours long in the blazing sun, and since we are planning to go to Jamestown and Yorktown next spring, and since there are replicas of the Susan Constant and Discovery in Jamestown right now, and a new Discovery is being built in Maine to sail next year for the anniversary, we figure we will go on the Godspeed there if we can't go aboard in a couple of weeks when it's in Baltimore along with the HMS Northumberland.

There's a traveling fair of sorts traveling with the Godspeed on Virginia's 400th birthday and the plans for celebration in the different counties, so we went to lots of exhibits and displays and made a tile to be part of the giant American flag made of individual family tiles in Jamestown next May. There were also historical children's games, demonstrations of historical crafts and cooking, and a number of computerized and interactive activities -- the most curious of which was an exhibit about great Americans, which included people like Steve Jobs (we're betting that Apple is a sponsor of the exhibit) and various Chrysler and Ford chairmen as well as the person who pioneered stem cell research, but not some of what seem to me to be really obvious big name choices. They'd gone out of their way to seek diversity -- Maria Tallchief, Irving Berlin, Jim Thorpe, Rosa Parks -- but there were a lot of commercial interests represented. Naturally the maritime exhibits were my favorites, but the kids liked a lot of them and given the heat I was impressed they paid attention for as long as they did.

After walking along the river, we ended up in the Torpedo Factory -- once what the name states, now an artists' studio -- where we looked at metal sculpture and decorative arts as well as the torpedo museum, and discovered that the parrot rescue people who are always at the waterfront festival were near the building, so we went to see the birds, and then we walked up King Street to the visitor's center in Ramsay House and stopped in some of the stores -- there's a great boutique with cat-themed souvenirs and a tobacconist which is also a Scottish importer where one can find, in addition to tartans and coats of arms, things like shortbread, imported Cadbury and Runrig CDs.

In the evening, since we had spent much of the day in one of his chosen cities, we watched the History Channel special on Washington the Warrior ("America's First Action Hero"), which was interesting if a lot of the same material from the special last year on Washington's career during the French and Indian War...I did not realize that he had been present when his stepdaughter died, and when the professors started going on about what an extraordinary thing it was that he had turned down an offer of a crown, I wondered just how lucky we all got that he had no children of his own. If he had had a son, given the pressures of the time, would he have felt obligated to try to establish a dynasty for his own children's sake even if he thought it was a bad idea for the nation? Things worked out really well, I think, that he became the father of our country rather than a biological father.

The replica of the Godspeed docked in the Potomac River at Alexandria, Virginia.

The ship is traveling with a tent fair from all over Virginia and the UK near Greenwich where the original Godspeed launched, showing what colonial life was like and encouraging tourism for Virginia's 400th birthday.

Here is the Godspeed from another angle, with the Potomac Belle riverboat visible behind the gazebos.

Since the Godspeed is a working vessel with a full time crew living aboard, the areas belowdecks contain more modern amenities than the original Godspeed, so there is an exhibit in a tent replicating some aspects of the deck where the immigrants lived during the voyage. (The reenactors have a lot more personal space than the passengers would have enjoyed!)

There are also assorted exhibits on colonial life. Here is a demonstration of how coffee beans, nuts and chocolate were crushed for cooking. There were samples. *g*

I did have one crisis. It seems that I got something on the sensor for my camera -- there is a smudge that shows up in the upper left corner on all my photos, whether I am using the macro lens or the telephoto so I know it's not the lens. I called Ritz Camera but they said that they'd have to ship it to Nikon, as they won't mess with it for fear of breaking it. Does anyone have any suggestions? I am not sending my camera to Nikon for six weeks when we are going on a long vacation in four weeks!

And I have discovered L'Occitane en Provence's Neroli perfume. I MUST HAVE THIS. They had samples in my local store but none in stock and all they have on the web is quite expensive! I don't suppose anyone knows a similarly wonderful less expensive alternative?

I got very little work done this weekend due to the holiday and all the running around...must catch up tomorrow!

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