to the small poem and the quiet voice within

walt whitman | a farm picture

Painting by John White Alexander


A Farm Picture

Through an ample open door of
the peaceful country barn
A sunlit pasture field with cattle
And horses feeding,
And haze and vista, and the far
Horizon fading away.

[from: SONG OF MYSELF AND OTHER POEMS, by Walt Whitman, selected and introduced by Robert Hass, Counterpoint, 260 pp., $23]


  1. Matthew J. Sradeja

    Walt Whitman practically saved my life. I had been heading down a destructive path fast without much notice. I was in jail for 3 days (wich is an eternity for such a free spirit). Anyway, I could not go to the jail library but, there was a copy of Leaves of Grass on the book shelf of the bull pin I was in. I looked at it and recalled Robin Williams lines in the movie (Dead Poets Society). I started reading and before i new it I had read for four hours, ate lunch read some more and more, and in a way I have never stopped. I believe that the kids today need poetry more than ever.

  2. R D Armstrong

    You got that right…except it’s not just the kids who need it…everybody would benefit from a daily dose of it!

  3. Jeffrey Winke

    Wow Mathew… I can never tell which is more profound: Whitman’s poetry OR the dramatic effect his poetry can have on others. Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. Voxx Voltair

    I have had the good fortune to have been introduced to the poetry of both Whitman and Basho, very early on in life. Recently, Whitman has been on my mind, and I started reading “Leaves of Grass” again. Whitman was an amazing talent, with a soul as wild and wide as nature itself. In my mind, modern poetry really does begin with him. I am grateful for such souls as his, that have lead the way to freedom of self-expression. ~V~

  5. Suz

    A lovely poem
    and the image (portrait) of a great man
    and I mean
    isn’t it amazing

  6. Bill

    The words are wonderful. So is the portrait. We know the poet, do we know the painter?

  7. Norbert Blei

    Some of you have asked about the name of the portrait painter. My friend, artist here in Door County, Charles Peterson has provided the following information:

    I noticed someone wanted to know who did the portrait of Whitman shown in your recent Basho. It was John Alexander, highly respected in the U.S. and France, done in the last couple years of Walt’s life. I think it shows a romanticized interpretation, characteristic of the time. I don’t think such a glorious beard ever existed, certainly not on any man who still ate food. –Chick [Peterson]

    For more insight into Chick’s work, please check past entries (Charles Peterson) on Poetry Dispatch.

    –norb blei

  8. monsieur k.

    …many thanks to Charles Peterson and Norbert Blei to direct me to John White Alexander, the painter of Walt Whitman’s portrait above. If you put the cursor on John White Alexander’s name you will see a preview of some artist information. Click it if you want so see more.

  9. Candace Hennekens

    Farming has changed since Basho yet in truth, nothing about farming has changed. Being in touch with nature is still its gift to all who care to see.

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