Those who love each other shall become invincible.

When I ordered my National Poetry Month poster (which is now hanging in the hall, thankyouverymuch), I also received a copy of the 2007 poster featuring Walt Whitman. Or, as you Dead Poets Society fans might know him, Uncle Walt. I have no idea if they were just trying to get rid of the 2007 poster or if I got someone else’s order or what. And I don’t know what to do with it, actually. I don’t mind hanging a picture of a window with some writing on it, but I am not sure about hanging a picture of a sweaty-toothed madman’s face on my wall. Also, Mike is completely incapable of seeing the face in the poster. It just looks like a blob to him.

Since then, all summer, in fact, it seems that Walt Whitman has been, well, everywhere. Several of my students brought me his poetry for Poem in Your Pocket Day. I have read several novels that have used lines from his poems. I even made Mike watch Dead Poets Society. I admit it. I just could not help myself. Because of this, I have grown more fond of Whitman this year. Here’s one of his poems I am particularly fond of that I quoted last year for National Poetry Month. And, as I mentioned on Poem in Your Pocket Day, I am also a fan of “As I Walk These Broad Majestic Days.” Especially the last line: “And our visions, the visions of poets, the most solid announcements of any.”

(By the way, Alisa has never seen Dead Poets Society, and she came home right when the Big Bad Thing was happening, so we had to send her out of the room. But we let her back after that, and I tried to get her excited about the final scene. She kept insisting that she had no idea what the final scene was, and we insisted that, no, everyone knows what the final scene is. And when it came on? She recognized it. Everyone knows the final scene! O Captain, my Captain!)

Because of Dead Poets Society, Whitman is forever entwined in my mind with the idea of seizing the day. Seizing the day is a common theme for the start of the school year (and end of the school year – it has launched many a valedictory speech including my own). These days I am a little conflicted about seizing the day. I am doing my best to juggle work and taking classes and doing the things that keep me sane. I hate to keep focusing on that sweet, sweet day in December when all my classes will be over. But, oh, sweet, sweet day in December, how I long for you. In order to get through this time, Mike and I have created a plan, a manifesto if you will, to help me survive the next few months. It involves a lot of walks and fresh air and vitamins and The Divine Hours and getting me out of the house.

I have another Walt Whitman quote that makes me think of my plan, of Mike’s sweet concern for me. Back in the spring, I read The Song is You by Arthur Phillips, and in the beginning, there is a quote (at least, I am pretty sure this is the book that had the quote) from Whitman: “Affection shall solve the problems of freedom yet, Those who love each other shall become invincible.” On the days when I am just surviving, I will try to remember what Uncle Walt says. I will try to love and be loved, to know and be known. He seems pretty smart, at least for a sweaty-toothed madman.

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