WORLD BELOW THE BRINE

- By Walt Whitman
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Walter Whitman (/ˈhwɪtmən/; May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist, and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse.[1] His work was controversial in its time, particularly his poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which was described as obscene for its overt sensuality. Whitman's own life came under scrutiny for his presumed homosexuality. Born in Huntington on Long Island, as a child and through much of his career he resided in Brooklyn. At age 11, he left formal schooling to go to work. Later, Whitman worked as a journalist, a teacher, and a government clerk. Whitman's major poetry collection, Leaves of Grass, was first published in 1855 with his own money and became well known. The work was an attempt at reaching out to the common person with an American epic. He continued expanding and revising it until his death in 1892. During the American Civil War, he went to Washington, D.C. and worked in hospitals caring for the wounded. His poetry often focused on both loss and healing. On the death of Abraham Lincoln, whom Whitman greatly admired, he wrote his well known poems, "O Captain! My Captain!" and "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd", and gave a series of lectures. After a stroke towards the end of his life, Whitman moved to Camden, New Jersey, where his health further declined. When he died at age 72, his funeral was a public event.[2][3]
The world below the brine;
Forests at the bottom of the sea - the branches and leaves,
Sea-lettuce, vast lichens, strange flowers and seeds -
the thick tangle, the openings, and the pink turf,
Different colors, pale gray and green, purple, white, and gold -
the play of light through the water,
Dumb swimmers there among the rocks - coral, gluten, grass, rushes -
and the aliment of the swimmers,
Sluggish existences grazing there, suspended, or slowly crawling
close to the bottom,
The sperm-whale at the surface, blowing air and spray, or disporting
with his flukes,
The leaden-eyed shark, the walrus, the turtle, the hairy sea-leopard,
and the sting-ray;
Passions there - wars, pursuits, tribes - sight in those ocean-depths -
breathing that thick-breathing air, as so many do;
The change thence to the sight here, and to the subtle air breathed by beings
like us, who walk this sphere;
The change onward from ours, to that of beings who walk other spheres.

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Word Lists:

Gluten : a substance present in cereal grains, especially wheat, that is responsible for the elastic texture of dough. A mixture of two proteins, it causes illness in people with celiac disease.

Disport : enjoy oneself unrestrainedly; frolic

Fluke : an unlikely chance occurrence, especially a surprising piece of luck

Lichen : a simple slow-growing plant that typically forms a low crusty, leaflike, or branching growth on rocks, walls, and trees

Brine : water strongly impregnated with salt

Sphere : a round solid figure, or its surface, with every point on its surface equidistant from its center.

Coral : a hard stony substance secreted by certain marine coelenterates as an external skeleton, typically forming large reefs in warm seas

Turf : grass and the surface layer of earth held together by its roots

Spray : liquid that is blown or driven through the air in the form of tiny drops

Suspended : (of a sentence) imposed by a judge or court but not enforced as long as no further offense is committed within a specified period

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