“All the Shadows / Whisper of the Sun”: Carnevali’s Whitmanesque Simplicity
Why did Emanuel Carnevali submit his short poem to the 1919 Whitman issue of Poetry if the only apparent connection with Walt Whitman is in the title? He did so, I argue, because the poem is as Whitmanesque as one could possibly imagine. Carnevali’s philosophy of the commonplace is more than just an ars poetica of sorts. It is Philosophy with a capital “P.” It is an endorsement of Whitman’s perspective on things along with the sense of wonder that, as Aristotle said (and Plato before him), is the beginning of all philosophy.
Dear Harriet Monroe:—
Your recent issue of Poetry is quite interesting. The first poem of that young Italian chap is very good, the rest—unsuccessful. You are certainly the clearinghouse for a lot of mediocre stuff—so you should be: very democratic—keep up the good work.
This is William Carlos Williams writing to the editor of Poetry magazine on March 12, 1918.1 We know who the young Italian chap is: Emanuel Carnevali, age twenty, who had just made his debut in Monroe’s magazine with a six-page group of poems, “The Splendid Commonplace.”2 Less clear, perhaps, is what Williams means by “the rest” —the “unsuccessful,” “mediocre stuff.” “The Splendid Commonplace” consists of six poems, the first of which is called “In This Hotel.” Williams might be referring to the other five Carnevali poems; or he might be taking the six poems as a single body of poetry (the first in the issue [End Page 360] after a dance play by Alfred Kreymborg) and designating the remainder of the issue as “the rest”; after all, a few months later “The Splendid Commonplace” would win the special prize for “beginners in the art” awarded by the magazine, a prestigious endorsement indeed.3
As it turns out, the first hypothesis is most likely. Williams was hard to please. Yet the “young Italian chap” did make a big impact on him— so big that only a year later Williams would dedicate to Carnevali the editorial with which he announced the end of his own magazine “of the new verse,” Others:
Emanuel Carnevali, the black poet, the empty man, the New York which does not exist, the end of Others. . . . I celebrate your arrival. . . . You show us what we are, rats. . . . What do I care if Carnevali has not written three poems I can thoroughly admire? . . . He is wide, Wide, WIDE open. He is out of doors. He does not look through a window.4
Sadly, we will never know how strong a difference Carnevali’s “wide open” genius might have made to American poetry, had the terrible illness he contracted in Chicago in 1922 not forced him to return to Italy and live out the rest of his days in hospitals, boarding houses, and poverty-level sanatoriums.5 Any counterfactual speculation would be as inconclusive as it would be sorrowful, and I do not intend to engage in the exercise.
What we do know is that while Carnevali’s voice was well heard during the time he spent on the American side of the ocean, it was forgotten soon afterwards, and the potential difference he could have made turned into oblivion. A line in Kenneth Rexroth’s “Thou Shalt Not Kill” (1953) says it all: “Carnevali, what became of him?”6 It’s not that Williams changed his views; on the contrary, he continued to be a friend and supporter throughout Carnevali’s difficult years back in Italy. I also do not think the oblivion was caused by Monroe’s harsh review of the book Carnevali published in 1925, A Hurried Man.7 She certainly was not pleased with it, calling Carnevali himself a “hurried poet” and the book—which included most of the verse and prose he had published in her magazine—“a mere beginning, and a shapeless beginning at that.”8 But she did acknowledge the “hint of power” in the book and praised the “glint and gleam of beauty” in the fragments, and she did continue to publish Carnevali’s work until 1931.9 Besides, other reviews were more favorable, to the point of describing A Hurried Man as “something never before done” and his author as “more important than Keats.”10 The mystery of Carnevali’s rise and fall is just that—a [End Page 361] mystery. We may still want to look for an explanation, just as we may acquiesce in silence or share Williams’s deep sense of frustration (and indignation) at the thought that Carnevali’s “superbly alive” work got “shoved under the heap of corpses.”11 Much better, I think, is to go back and read his poetry and see for ourselves how “wide, Wide, WIDE open” Carnevali truly was.
As my title suggests, I want to focus specifically on one poem, indeed on two lines from a poem. It is not the one that prompted Williams’s letter in 1918, nor is it from “the rest” of that collection, although I hope to show that it is closely connected to it. Rather, it is a poem Carnevali published separately fourteen months later, in the May 1919 issue of Poetry celebrating Walt Whitman’s centenary. By that time, Carnevali had already published four more pieces in Monroe’s magazine: a poem on modern poetry (May 1918),12 a review of David O’Neil’s book of poems, A Cabinet of Jade (July),13 a poetic letter on the moods of city crowds on Armistice Day (December),14 and an essay on contemporary Italian poetry (January 1919).15 Meanwhile he had also published his first piece in Williams’s magazine Others (a passionate essay on Rimbaud, March 1919)16 and two more poems elsewhere: “Nocturne,” in the February 1919 issue of Youth,17 and a New York “variation” on Synge’s Playboy of the Western World, in the first April 1919 issue of The Dial 18 (in which Carnevali’s short bio announced that he was about to publish his first book, The Rhythmical Talk of E.C.). So he was on a roll, so to speak. And he was coming to terms not only with his own heart and the power within but with the work of other writers as well, American and European. It is therefore significant that he would now publish a piece devoted to Whitman, an American poet no one could ignore. Or rather, it is significant that he would publish a poem whose title is a tribute to Whitman. Let me reproduce it in full; then I will try to explain why I believe this poem is very special in many ways, over and above its exquisite beauty.
Noon on the mountain!— And all the crags are husky faces powerful with love for the sun; All the shadows Whisper of the sun.19
The first thing I want to say is that in all probability the title was added afterwards. Carnevali loved Whitman, we know that. Monroe [End Page 362] knew that, too, for Carnevali had explicitly mentioned Whitman in the letter he wrote to her back in 1918, when he submitted “The Splendid Commonplace” to Poetry:
I want to become an American poet because I have, in my mind, rejected Italian standards of good literature. I do not like Carducci, still less d’Annunzio. . . . Of American authors I have read, pretty well, Poe, Whitman, Twain, Harte, London, Oppenheim and Waldo Frank. I believe in free verse. I try not to imitate.20
So Monroe wants to have a special Whitman issue to celebrate the poet’s centenary and asks Carnevali to contribute a piece. He accepts. But I’ll bet he had already written those four lines; he just added the title. For although the poem is not about Whitman, it is as Whitmanesque as a poem could ever be. It is the best tribute the young Carnevali could think of for one of the poets who inspired him the most, at least during the early days of his transition from shoveling snow and washing dishes in Greenwich Village to writing poetry.
We could, of course, just take the piece as it stands. By 1919, there was already a long list of poems devoted to the figure of Walt Whitman, beginning with Algernon Charles Swinburne’s “To Walt Whitman in America” in 1871.21 In fact, it had become fashionable to give such poems no other title than “Walt Whitman,” or “To Walt Whitman.” The list of authors includes Scottish poet Robert Williams Buchanan, the “Poet of the Sierras” Joaquin Miller, Dora Read Goodale, Francis Howard Williams, Sir Rennell Rodd (a friend of Oscar Wilde), Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío (the initiator of Spanish-American “modernismo”), Sam Walter Foss, Harrison Smith Morris, Annie Thomas, Albert Edmund Lancaster, Hamlin Garland, Louis James Block, Rowland Thurnam, multiple Pulitzer Prize winner Edwin Arlington Robinson, Mary Stoddart, Gustav P. Wiksell, Ray Clarke Rose, William Struthers, May Morgan, Estelle Duclo, George M. Hartt, German expressionist poet Arthur Drey, and eventually Fernando Pessoa, whose “Saudação a Walt Whitman” was written in 1915.22 A very long list indeed—and certainly incomplete. We can see Carnevali’s 1919 poem as yet another contribution to this tradition, especially in the context of a celebratory issue of Poetry. And the tradition continues with dozens of further tribute poems by such writers as D. H. Lawrence, Zona Gale, Ezequiel Martínez Estrada, Federico García Lorca, Edwin Markham, Mike Gold, Stephen Vincent Benét, and of course Pablo Neruda, whose “Oda a Walt Whitman” includes [End Page 363] the famous lines “me enseñaste / a ser americano”23: “you taught me to be American.” (In a later context Neruda even called Whitman his “más grande acreedor,” his “primary creditor,”24 saying that he was barely fifteen when he discovered him and that he himself learned more from Whitman than from Cervantes.) I could continue, but I will stop here. What is so special about Carnevali’s four-line lyric, given such a remarkable tradition of poems and odes named after the poet of America? Why did the “young Italian chap” submit that short piece to Poetry magazine, if the only apparent connection with Whitman is in the title?
The answer, I think, comes in two parts. The first lies in the composite simplicity of Carnevali’s poem. True, Whitman was such a multifarious and controversial figure that it comes as no surprise that so many writers felt the need to express their tribute to his work. He was a poet but also a teacher, journalist, government clerk, committed supporter of the Wilmot Proviso and fully opposed to the extension of slavery generally, and had volunteered as a nurse during the Civil War. Like no one else, Whitman had succeeded in reaching out to the common person with an American epic. (According to some reports, his funeral in Camden, New Jersey, on March 30, 1892, was a public event “wholly without parallel in America.”25) No wonder Neruda’s Incitación al nixonicidio begins with another ode to his creditor: “Comienzo por invocar a Walt Whitman.”26 A quick look at the poems of the other authors mentioned above reveals that they, too, generally praise Whitman as a “prophet,” “priest,” “pioneer,” “Titan soul,” and visionary of sorts.27
Those are all excellent reasons to love Whitman. But they are not Carnevali’s reasons. It is not because of such legendary traits that, in a 1921 essay, he would even say that American poetry that does not follow in “the great Walt Whitman way” is “fated to a short life.”28 Rather, the “Whitman way,” for Carnevali, is the way that leads to poetry starting from the small things, the simple things of life. It is the ability to capture the wonders that hide in those things—in every thing. And it is precisely that ability, I think, that Carnevali meant to honor with his small tribute poem of 1919.
In fact, “tribute” is not even the right word. Carnevali’s short poem is more like a present to Whitman, like a postcard. It is the watercolor of a moment—the sun at noon, a mountain, the shadows—with Whitman’s name added at the top to reveal his double role as donor and donee, in the certainty that he would have been pleased to receive it. “All the shadows / whisper of the sun.” What a difference from the usual way of expressing tribute to the poet of America. “Noon on the mountain!” [End Page 364] What a contrast between Carnevali’s exclamation mark and those of John Russell McCarthy in the poem that opens the whole celebratory issue:
WALT! Walt! You burly old lover of men and women, You hairy shouter of catalogues from the housetops, Earth’s prophet, through whom the Almighty chanted His works— Walt! Walt! Up there! Do you hear us hallooing to you?29
Yes, McCarthy points his finger at Whitman’s passion for “catalogues from the housetops.” He knows that Whitman’s poetry is bottom-up, grounded on the simple things of life. But he doesn’t feel the power that comes with it. He doesn’t get it. He cannot get it, because McCarthy is looking through a window. Carnevali’s experience is exactly the other way around. He is wide open, he is out of doors, he knows what to look for—what to see—in everything.
I don’t know what Carnevali thought of William Blake,30 for obviously one is reminded here of the opening lines from “Auguries of Innocence”:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand, And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour.31
This is certainly not Carnevali’s style or Whitman’s. But the philosophy is the same, in the extreme form it attains when we learn how to see a whole world not only in the romance of a grain of sand or a wild flower but in anything. Whitman was candid about this and we can find traces of such philosophy throughout his writings, beginning with “Song of Myself” (which Carnevali must have known well):
All truths wait in all things, They neither hasten their own delivery nor resist it, They do not need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon, The insignificant is as big to me as any.32
Sometimes even a single line can deliver the message, as in the following splendid verse from “By Blue Ontario’s Shores”:
Are you faithful to things?33 [End Page 365]
Since Carnevali read a lot of Whitman, he might have been familiar also with his prose writings and notes, where again Whitman describes his conception of poetry explicitly—as in this passage from a short piece in his Specimen Days and Collect (a book whose title is itself a program):
At its best, poetic lore is like what may be heard of conversation in the dusk, from speakers far or hid, of which we get only a few broken murmurs. What is not gather’d is far more—perhaps the main thing.34
Now, what evidence do we have that Carnevali, too, was conceiving of poetry along these lines? Plenty. His poem “Walt Whitman” was not a statement out of the blue. On the contrary, it was the natural culmination of the statement underlying the first group of poems he published in Poetry a year earlier, whose title, let us recall, was “The Splendid Commonplace.” That collection is all about the poetic strength of this Whitmanesque simplicity. Take the first poem, the one Williams liked so much, with the lines:35
I would have a trumpet as powerful as the wind, And I would trumpet out to the world The splendid commonplace: “Nice day to-day!”
Or take the second, “His Majesty the Letter-carrier,” with the unvarnished lines:
He is so proud Because he’s got my happiness in that dirty bag.
Or again, “Drôlatique-sérieux,” the third poem:
Through the lowered awning’s chink The sun enters my room with the glad fury Of a victorious dagger wielded by an adventurous child.
Indeed, even the closing piece of the group, “Sentimental Dirge”—a poem in rhyme, almost an insult to Whitman and to Carnevali’s own commitment to free verse36—is simplicity at its peak:
Sweetheart, what’s the use of you— When the night is blue . . . [End Page 366]
It is against this background that we should read “Walt Whitman.” This ability to capture the splendidness of the commonplace constitutes the highest of Carnevali’s early poetry, and Whitman’s influence on it. As Monroe herself would write in her critical review of A Hurried Man,
The Splendid Commonplace group . . . is full of the spirit of youth—youth which makes its own adventures out of the daily routine; seeing both sides of them, their serious importance and their absurd littleness, and seeing also through and beyond them.37
Of course, it would be a mistake to regard such splendidness as necessarily pleasant. The commonplace is full of ugly things, too, and Carnevali would make a point of that. For example, in the 1921 essay mentioned above, where he says the American poetry must follow “the great Walt Whitman way,” he concludes his survey of the young emerging poets by describing himself (“last but not least” and in the third person) as someone who
mentions things unmentionable in any well-mannered self-respecting poem. . . . He seems to delight in writing on most unpleasant subjects—furnished rooms, slums, bad American food, and the like.38
The point could not be more explicit. The splendidness of the commonplace does not lie in the beauty of things, but in their surprising poetic power. As in Whitman—and unlike Blake—it lies in what we can see and hear if we pay attention to the hidden side of the commonplace, its broken murmurs, whatever their source. It lies in the fact that the commonplace has all that one needs:
I had a job at Lincoln Park once, cutting off the diseased branches from otherwise healthy trees and shooting arsenic and lead poisoning over everything to kill the pretty little colored caterpillars. There was all the poetry I needed in this job.39
Incidentally, the unpleasantness of furnished rooms is a distinctive, recurring trope in Carnevali’s writings. He asks in his Autobiography:
How much of myself have I left in furnished rooms?40
And he asks in a poem published in September 1919: [End Page 367]
Who shall ask the furnished-room poets to write A song for the dawn?41
The latter poem is dedicated to another favorite and friend of Carnevali’s, Waldo Frank, but in it there is another reference to Walt Whitman, this time in the body of the lyric.42 The trope is so central and pervasive, culminating in “Furnished Room Rhapsody” (1928),43 that Dennis Barone decided to use Furnished Rooms as the title for his edition of Carnevali’s collected poetry.44
So much for the first part of my answer to the question I asked—why did Carnevali submit that short poem to the Whitman issue of Poetry, if the only apparent connection with Whitman is in the title? He did because that poem is the most Whitmanesque piece he could think of. In my opinion, this philosophy of the commonplace is more than just an ars poetica of sorts. It is Philosophy with a capital “P.” It is where Poetry and Philosophy find their common origin. As Plato famously put it in the Theaetetus:
Wonder is the only beginning of philosophy, and he who said that Iris was the child of Thaumas made a good genealogy.45
Aristotle said the same in the Metaphysics:
It is owing to their wonder that men now begin and originally began to philosophize.46
And so did many others throughout the history of philosophy—all the way to Bertrand Russell:
Philosophy . . . keeps alive our sense of wonder by showing familiar things in an unfamiliar aspect.47
This is what Philosophy is about, this is what Poetry is about: to let the world surprise us. “All truths wait in all things” (or as Williams put it, “no ideas but in things”)—even those things that seem banal, uninteresting, unpleasant.
As for the second part of my answer, it is much briefer, and comes specifically from the last two lines of the poem. Again, the point is philosophical, and here perhaps my thoughts are driven by a reading that goes beyond Carnevali’s intentions. “All the shadows / whisper of the sun.” We can read these lines in many ways, depending on where we [End Page 368] put the accent: all the shadows (not just some) whisper of the sun; all the shadows (not other things) whisper of the sun; all the shadows whisper (as opposed to speaking loudly) of the sun; all the shadows whisper of the sun (not of something else). The standard interpretation, I think, lies somewhere between the second and the fourth readings, with an emphasis on the symbolic meaning of “shadow” and of “sun”: shadows are dark, bad things, but if we pay attention, if we look closely, we’ll see that they all hint at something bright and beautiful. We can’t really gaze at the sun directly, for that would make us blind. Yet the sun is there, the light is there, and every bit of darkness in our lives exists to remind us of that important truth.
I prefer a different interpretation, one that lies somewhere between the first and the third readings, where the accent is on “all” and on “whisper.” To me this is the accent that truly explains the title of the poem, for, again, that is how Whitman himself put it: all truths wait in all things. We get only a few broken murmurs, and what is not gathered is far more. But every murmur is significant. Every shadow has a story to tell, albeit sotto voce.
Now, why did Carnevali say “sun,” as opposed to “things”? After all, we can’t have a shadow without a light source, but neither can we have a shadow without something of which it is a shadow. Shadows are doubly parasitic, as it were.48 They are the product of the subtle interaction between light and things, opaque things, and it would seem that a shadow has a lot more to say about the latter than about the former. We can learn a great deal about an object by looking at its shadow: its shape, for example, or its spatial relation to other things (though appearances may be misleading: my hands can cast a rabbit shadow, and a rabbit can contort itself to cast a hand shadow49). All we can learn about the light is that it must be there. If we are skillful, we may perhaps be able to figure out also the direction whence it comes. But that is all. In a way, this is also the lesson of Plato’s allegory of the cave in book 7 of the Republic. Because all we get to see in the cave are shadows, we tend to believe they are the real things—the only things in the world. Really they are just shadows, projections, and we should learn to infer the existence of the real things of which the shadows are mere projections. That is what knowledge is all about. So why did Carnevali say “sun” instead? I am not sure, but I think the answer is that he is writing like Whitman. It’s noon on the mountain. The crags are there, they have been there all along and we could see them well before the sun rose. Not so their shadows. Those shadows—the ones we see now—were not there before [End Page 369] and will change as the sun moves. But right now—now they are telling us about the sun at noon. The shadows are whispering the moment, among themselves and to us. They are telling us something we must grasp now, or else it will be gone forever.
Or perhaps none of this. Perhaps the shadows are just chatting sotto voce. They are gossiping about Mr. Sun, who showed up on the mountain to celebrate noon. We don’t know what they are saying; the content of their conversation escapes us. But so it is. It’s a pretty scene. It is worth a sketch, a watercolor. One day we could make a postcard of it. I’m sure old Walt would like that.
An earlier version of this paper was delivered at the symposium “Emanuel Carnevali in Italy and America: A Poet ‘Out of Doors’,” held at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in New York, October 3, 2014. I am thankful to the organizers for their support and to Barbara Carnevali for the many conversations that followed and for her help with some quotations and bibliographic details. I am also grateful to Aurelia Casagrande of the Archivio Storico Comunale di Bazzano for her kind assistance in consulting the valuable holdings of the Maria Pia Carnevali archives.
1. William Carlos Williams to Harriet Monroe, in Dear Editor: A History of “Poetry” in Letters; The First Fifty Years, 1912–1962, ed. Joseph Parisi and Stephen Young (New York: Norton, 2002), p. 130.
2. Emanuel Carnevali, “The Splendid Commonplace,” in Poetry 11, no. 6 (March 1918): 298–303. That was only two months after the appearance of Carnevali’s very first published verse, “Colored Lies,” in The Forum (January 1918): 83–84; and less than four years after his arrival in New York from Bologna, with no knowledge of English, on April 5, 1914.
3. The prize, offered by a guarantor of the magazine “for a poem, or group of poems, by a young beginner in the art,” was announced in Poetry 12, no. 2 (November 1918), pp. 112–13.
4. William Carlos Williams, “Gloria!” Others 5, no. 6 (July 1919): 3–4 (3). The last poem included in the issue is Carnevali’s “Serenade” (p. 19), which ends with the lines “Come on, open that window / or I’ll go home.”
5. Carnevali returned to Italy in September 1922 after being diagnosed with encephalitis lethargica and spent the last twenty years of his life between the hospital and boarding houses of Bazzano—the small town where his father worked for a while—and a sanatorium in Bologna, where he died on January 11, 1942, choking on a piece of bread. Much of what we know about his life comes from The Autobiography of Emanuel Carnevali, compiled by Kay Boyle (New York: Horizon, 1967), hereafter abbreviated A, which includes the unfinished autobiographical novel The First God (partly published [End Page 370] “in progress” in Americans Abroad: An Anthology, ed. Peter Neagoe [The Hague: Servire Press, 1932], pp. 73–82) and the Bazzanese diary “A History” (published in This Quarter 1, no. 4 [Spring 1929]: 127–48). See also the Italian edition of Carnevali’s writings edited by his half-sister Maria Pia, Il primo dio (Milan: Adelphi, 1978), which contains a different reconstruction of The First God. Further information comes from Sherwood Anderson’s portrait “Italian Poet in America,” Decision 2, no. 2 (August 1941): 8–15; from the memoirs in William Carlos Williams, Autobiography (New York: New Directions, 1967) and in Robert McAlmon and Kay Boyle, Being Geniuses Together: 1920–1930 (New York: Doubleday, 1968); and from Carnevali’s epistolary volume, Voglio disturbare l’America. Lettere a Benedetto Croce e Giovanni Papini ed altro, ed. Gabriel Cacho Millet (Florence: La casa Usher, 1981). A detailed “Cronologia della vita e delle opere” may also be found in the appendix to Emanuel Carnevali, Racconti di un uomo che ha fretta, ed. Gabriel Cacho Millet (Rome: Fazi, 2004), pp. 171–94.
6. Kenneth Rexroth, “Thou Shalt Not Kill: A Memorial for Dylan Thomas,” In Defense of the Earth (New York: New Directions, 1956), pp. 52–59 (55).
7. Emanuel Carnevali, A Hurried Man (Paris: Three Mountains Press, 1925), hereafter abbreviated HM, was Carnevali’s first and only book published during his lifetime. The title comes from the three opening pieces, which had appeared separately as “Tales of a Hurried Man” in The Little Review 6 (1919–20).
8. Harriet Monroe, “A Hurried Poet,” Poetry 27, no. 4 (1926): 211–15 (211–12). Also see reviews by Lola Ridge, The New Republic 46, no. 587 (1926): 51–52; and by Paul Rosenfeld, The Saturday Review of Literature 2, no. 33 (March 13, 1926): 629–30, which agreed in describing HM as “disorderly in both thought and expression” (Ridge) and “a mixture of friable mortar and small building-stones” (Rosenfeld), though both reviews were otherwise sympathetic.
9. Carnevali’s last contribution to Monroe’s magazine—which she continued to edit until her death in 1936—was the seven-poem collection “Castles on the Ground,” in Poetry 38, no. 5 (August 1931): 237–44, now available in book form as Fireflies (Cambridge: Sans Souci Press, 1970).
10. See Ernest Walsh’s review, “A Young Living Genius,” in This Quarter 1, no. 2 (Fall–Winter 1925–26): 322–29 (325, 328).
11. Williams, Autobiography, p. 267.
12. Emanuel Carnevali, “As He Sees It,” Poetry 12, no. 2 (May 1918): 113–14.
13. Emanuel Carnevali, “Mr. O’Neil’s Carvings,” Poetry 12, no. 4 (July 1918): 225–27. O’Neil’s book had been published that year by the Four Seas Company (Boston).
14. Emanuel Carnevali, “The Day of Victory,” Poetry 13, no. 3 (December 1918): 171–72.
15. “Five Years of Italian Poetry (1910–1915),” Poetry 13, no. 4 (January 1919): 209–19, including Carnevali’s own translations of poems by Corrado Govoni, Salvatore Di Giacomo, Piero Jahier, Aldo Palazzeschi, Umberto Saba, and Scipio Slataper.
16. Emanuel Carnevali, “Arthur Rimbaud,” Others 5, no. 4 (March 1919): 20–24, where Carnevali fully endorses the view that “the attainment of poetry is the attainment of life” (20). [End Page 371]
17. Emanuel Carnevali, “Nocturne,” Youth: Poetry of Today 1, no. 3 (February 1919): 65.
18. Emanuel Carnevali, “Synge’s Playboy of the Western World: Variation,” The Dial 66, no. 787 (April 5, 1919): 340.
19. Emanuel Carnevali, “Walt Whitman,” Poetry 14, no. 2 (May 1919): 60.
20. Letter quoted by Harriet Monroe in the notes at the end of Poetry 11, no. 6 (March 1918): 343.
21. In Swinburne’s Songs before Sunrise (London: Ellis, 1871), pp. 143–49. The poem is reprinted in Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song, ed. Jim Perlman, Ed Folsom, and Dan Campion (1981; repr., Minneapolis: Holy Cow! Press, 1998), which also includes reprints of some of the poems listed in note 22, along with many others, among them Carnevali’s “Walt Whitman.”
22. See Robert Williams Buchanan, “Walt Whitman,” The Saint Pauls Magazine 10, no. 5 (May 1872): 516; Joaquin Miller, “To Walt Whitman,” The Galaxy 23, no. 1 (January 1877): 29; Dora Read Goodale, “To Walt Whitman,” Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine 37, no. 4 (April 1886): 363; Francis H. Williams, “To Walt Whitman,” Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine 39, no. 1 (January 1887): 132; Rennell Rodd, “To Walt Whitman,” Oxford Magazine 6, no. 3 (November 1887): 51; Rubén Darío, “Walt Whitman,” Azul, 2nd ed. (Guatemala: La Unión, 1890), p. 188; Sam W. Foss, “Walt Whitman,” Back Country Poems (Boston: Potter, 1892), pp. 251–52; Harrison S. Morris, “Walt Whitman,” The Conservator 3, no. 4 (June 1892): 26; Annie Thomas, “To Walt Whitman,” in Julia and Annie Thomas’s Favorite Selections (New York: Werner, 1892), pp. 194–95; Albert E. Lancaster, “To Walt Whitman,” in In Re Walt Whitman, ed. Horace L. Traubel, Richard M. Bucke, and Thomas B. Harned (Philadelphia: McKay, 1893), p. 212; Hamlin Garland, “Walt Whitman,” in Traubel et al., In Re Walt Whitman, p. 328; Louis J. Block, “Walt Whitman,” Poet-Lore 5, nos. 8/9 (August–September 1893): 422–23; Rowland Thurnam, “To Walt Whitman,” The Conservator 6, no. 4 (June 1895): 55; Edwin A. Robinson, “Walt Whitman,” The Torrent and the Night Before (Cambridge: Riverside, 1896), pp. 31–32; Mary Stoddart, “Walt Whitman,” The Conservator 8, no. 2 (April 1897): 20; Gustav P. Wiksell, “To Walt Whitman,” The Conservator 10, no. 4 (June 1899): 52; Ray C. Rose, “Walt Whitman,” At the Sign of the Ginger Jar (Chicago: McClurg and Co., 1901), pp. 45–46; William Struthers, “To Walt Whitman,” The Conservator 15, no. 6 (August 1904): 84; May Morgan, “Walt Whitman,” The Critic 49, no. 2 (August 1906): 148; Estelle Duclo, “Walt Whitman,” The Conservator 18, no. 2 (April 1907): 29; George M. Hartt, “Walt Whitman,” The Conservator 18, no. 4 (June 1907): 52; Arthur Drey, “Walt Whitman,” Die Aktion 1 (February 1911), col. 907; Fernando Pessoa (under the heteronym Álvaro de Campos), “Saudação a Walt Whitman,” Poesias de Álvaro de Campos (Lisbon: Ática, 1944), pp. 202–12, translated by Edwin Honig as “Salutation to Walt Whitman,” in Fernando Pessoa, Selected Poems (Chicago: Swallow, 1971), pp. 56–71.
23. For all these authors—and many others, up to the 1990s—see again Perlman, Folsom, and Campion, Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song. Neruda’s ode, written in 1930, was first published in his Nuevas odas elementales (Buenos Aires: Losada, 1956), pp. 171–75.
24. Speech given by Neruda at the New York P.E.N. Club on April 10, 1972, first published as “Stand-by” in El siglo (April 14, 1972) and reprinted as “El albatros asesinado” in Pablo Neruda, Para nacer he nacido, ed. Matilde Neruda and Miguel Otero Silva [End Page 372] (Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1978), pp. 418–23 (419), translated by Margaret Sayers Peden as “The Murdered Albatross,” in Pablo Neruda, Passions and Impressions (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1983), pp. 375–79 (376).
25. So say Richard M. Bucke, Thomas B. Harned, and Horace L. Traubel, editors of The Complete Writings of Walt Whitman (New York: Putnam, 1902), in their introduction to vol. 1, pp. xiii–xcvi (xcii).
26. Pablo Neruda, Incitación al nixonicidio y alabanza de la revolución chilena (Santiago: Quimantuú, 1973), pp. 17–18, translated by Steve Kowit as Incitement to Nixonicide and Praise for the Chilean Revolution, 2nd ed. (Houston: Quixote Press, 1979), p. 6, where the poem in question is rendered as “I Begin by Invoking Walt Whitman.”
28. Emanuel Carnevali, “The Youngest,” Youth: A Magazine of the Arts 1, no. 1 (October 1921): 22–25 (25).
29. John Russell McCarthy, “Come Down, Walt!” Poetry 14, no. 2 (May 1919): p. 59.
30. To my knowledge, the only place where Carnevali mentions William Blake is in his essay “Maxwell Bodenheim, Alfred Kreymborg, Lola Ridge, William Carlos Williams,” written in March 1919 but published only in HM, pp. 247–68 (and partly reprinted as “My Speech at Lola’s” in A, pp. 141–48), where he describes himself as a man “who wants all creeds to be his,” from Laforgue’s “beggarliness” to Blake’s “voluptuous mysticism” (pp. 265 and 148, respectively).
31. William Blake, “Auguries of Innocence,” from The Pickering Manuscript, c. 1803, published posthumously in Alexander Gilchrist’s Life of William Blake, vol. 2 (London: Macmillan, 1863), pp. 94–97 (94).
32. In the first edition of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (Brooklyn: Andrew and James Rome, 1855), p. 33, where the poem is untitled. It was later titled “Poem of Walt Whitman, an American” in the second edition (1856), “Walt Whitman” in the third edition (Boston: Thayer and Eldridge, 1860–61), and finally “Song of Myself” in the sixth edition (Boston: Osgood, 1881–82), where the lines mark the beginning of section 30, at p. 53.
33. First published in the 1856 edition of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass as “Poem of Many in One” (with material from the prose preface to the 1855 edition), pp. 180–201 (192). The poem was expanded and renamed “As I Sat Alone by Blue Ontario’s Shore” in the fourth edition (New York: Chapin, 1867) and “By Blue Ontario’s Shores” in the sixth edition.
34. Walt Whitman, “After Trying a Certain Book,” Specimen Days and Collect (Philadelphia: Rees Welsh and Co., 1882–83), pp. 198–99.
35. Emanuel Carnevali, “The Splendid Commonplace,” p. 298. The three quotations that follow are from pp. 299, 300, and 302, respectively.
36. See again Carnevali’s letter to Monroe cited above (note 20) and A, p. 95: “All of a sudden I began to write: rhymed poems at first, absurd. . . . It is difficult to say how rotten the poems were.”
37. Monroe, “A Hurried Poet,” p. 212. [End Page 373]
38. Carnevali, “The Youngest,” p. 24.
39. Carnevali, A, p. 158.
40. Carnevali, A, p. 87.
41. Emanuel Carnevali, “The Day of Summer,” Poetry 14, no. 6 (September 1919): 314–27 (317).
42. Carnevali, “The Day of Summer,” p. 324: “O city, there lived in you once, O Manhattan, a man WALT WHITMAN” (italics in original). On Waldo Frank, see Carnevali’s letter quoted by Monroe (note 20 above).
43. The “Rhapsody” is part of Carnevali’s “Visiting Winds,” Poetry 32, no. 4 (July 1928): 179–85 (180–82).
44. Emanuel Carnevali, Furnished Rooms, ed. Dennis Barone (New York: Bordighera Press, 2006). The volume contains all the poems of HM along with Carnevali’s essay “The Book of Job Junior,” something of a statement of his views on poetry, also included in HM (pp. 61–79) and first published in Youth: A Magazine of the Arts 1, no. 4 (January 1922): 7–13.
45. Plato, Theaetetus, 155d, Plato in Twelve Volumes, trans. Harold N. Fowler, vol. 7 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1921). According to Hesiod (Theogony, 267, 780), Iris was the messenger from heaven and her father was Thaumas, a sea god, whose name Plato interprets as “Wonder” (θαῦμα).
46. Aristotle, Metaphysics, 982b12, The Works of Aristotle, vol. 8, trans. William D. Ross (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1908).
47. Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy (London: Williams and Norgate, 1912), p. 244.
48. This is itself a source of deep puzzles: see Samuel Todes and Charles Daniels, “Beyond the Doubt of a Shadow,” in Dialogues in Phenomenology, ed. Don Ihde and Richard M. Zaner (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1975), pp. 86–93, and the extensive discussions in Roberto Casati, La scoperta dell’ombra (Milan: Mondadori, 2000, translated by Abigail Asher as The Shadow Club, New York: Knopf, 2003); and in Roy Sorensen, Seeing Dark Things: The Philosophy of Shadows (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).
49. As in John O’Brien’s cartoon published in The New Yorker (February 25, 1991), p. 37. [End Page 374]