OE Lessing, a German Whitmanaut eventually horrified by the revelation that Whitman's Adhesiveness represented covert advocacy for same
-sex passion, rites here! "#he ords friend and comrade as used by #raubel are entirely free from the sense of morbid "adhesiveness$ that Whitman attached to them in his Calamus% #his must be stated here, and cannot be stated emphatically enough, if #raubel is to be understood at all as a personality &uite independent of Whitman%$ ' (itchell )antine Gould
OE Lessing. “Horace Traubel [Parts 3 and 4].” The Open Court, Volume 34 !"#$%, &'()). *igiti+ed b, -oogle .oo/s 0 t1an/s, -oogle2 Edited b, 3itc1ell 4antine -ould, curator, Lea5esO6-rass.Org. Possess t1e origin o6 all 7oems.
HO89:E T89;.EL .< O. E. LE44=>-.
>o 9merican 7ublis1er 1ad courage enoug1 to 7ublis1 at 1is o?n ris/ Horace Traubel@s collection o6 l,rics. T1e a77earance o6 Optimos[!#] ?as made 7ossible onl, b, means o6 7ri5ate subscri7tion, and it ma, ?ell be doubted i6 an, one else besides t1e subscribers e5er sa? a co7, o6 t1e boo/ at all.
T1e origin o6 t1e ?ord “O7timos” is 5er, c1aracteristic o6 its creator. Ae 1a5e t1e aut1entic stor, 6rom 3rs. .ainB “9 learned admiring musician 6riend said laug1ing o5er itB @=t ?as di5ine im7ertinence. Ho? did ,ou dare to do itC@ Traubel, too, laug1ed. He said, nonc1alantl,B @O1, = don@t /no?D i6 = don@t 6ind t1e ?ord = ?ant ?1en = ?ant a ?ord = ma/e it.@ @Ho? can ,ou Eusti6, suc1 a 7rocessC@ He ans?eredB @., ma/ing good.@ Traubel said to meB @8ead t1e 7oem ?it1 t1at title line
O7timos. =6 ,ou understand t1e 7oem ,ou ?ill ne5er again as/ t1e meaning o6 O7timos.@ 9nd 1e also saidB @=6 = can sa, cosmos, meaning t1e ?1ole, ?1, s1ouldn@t = sa, o7timos, meaning to s7ea/ o6 t1e c1eer6ul ?1oleC@”0:orrect or incorrect, beauti6ul or 1ideous, Traubel@s ne? ?ord ?ill li5e because t1e boo/ ?1ic1 ?as so named ?ill li5e. Leaves of Grass is a t1eodic, 6rom t1e 7oint o6 5ie? o6 su7er( dogmatic :1ristianit,. Optimos is a t1eodic, 6rom t1e 7oint o6 5ie? o6 su7er(religious 1umanit,. 9s Chants Communal and Collects are arranged according to an artisticall, concei5ed 7lan, so is Optimos.
T1ere are nine se7arate but interrelated grou7s o6 7oems. T1e 6irst and t1e last grou7s deal ?it1 t1e general ideas o6 a monistic and o7timistic 71iloso71,, “9 great lig1t ?as 7assed to me” and “E5er,t1ing goes bac/ to its 7lace.” T1e second grou7, “T1e golden age is in m, 1eart to(da,,” a77lies t1at 71iloso71, to t1e general 71enomena o6 7resent(da, li6e. T1e t1ird grou7, “Fust to o?n m, o?n soul,” e)7resses t1e sel6(assertion o6 t1e indi5idual soul. T1e 6ourt1 grou7, “.e6ore boo/s and a6ter boo/s,” s1o?s t1e ?a, to t1e realit, o6 t1e 7oet@s ideal o6 li6e as it mani6ests itsel6 in e)ternal 6orms. T1e 6i6t1 grou7, “To ,ou, going or coming, O ?oman,” com7arable to A1itman@s Children of Adam, 7roclaims t1e 6reedom o6 ?oman and t1e sanctit, o6 se)ual lo5e. T1en 6ollo? 7oems o6 lo5e, “= go ?1ere m, 1eart goes”D o6 6riends1i7, “Ae are Eust brot1ers”D and o6 democrac,, “T1e 7eo7le are t1e masters o6 li6e.”
T1e attenti5e reader soon disco5ers t1at t1e boo/ com7rises man, ,ears and 5arious 71ases o6 t1e aut1or@s 7ersonal li6e. T1ere are, as ?e 1a5e seen, a 6e? 7oems 5er, clearl, in6luenced b, A1itman bot1 in 6orm and in s7irit. .esides t1ose alread, mentioned. “O anterior soul” ma, ser5e as an illustration. A1itmanesGue are t1e r1,t1m, t1e man, re7etitions and enumerations, t1e 7arent1etic Guestions, t1e 1esitating Guali6ications o6 statements, t1e e)clamationsB
"* am balanced in the gases, the boiling cauldron s ings in infinite space, * am safe in the fire, * ascend the
slopes of flame! O sun's-self+O nebulous prophecies+O solace of promised restoration, * al- erect, * trade, * am the la yer in the court, * labor ith the chain-gang, * am sailor and soldier% * do not stop to count the years of the .ourney! Why should * stop for that hich never stops, for that as to hich * am unconcerned/$
T1ere is in t1is 7oem an element o6 m,sticism more intimatel, related to A1itman t1an merel, b, similarit, o6 e)7ressionB
"#here is a figure on the height! * see it+O it embraces me, *t presses a -iss to my lips, *t sets me sail on immortal seas% %%% *t, the anterior soul, ta-ing me, ho am god, bac- to god, *mmersing the ubi&uitous life in its o n aters%$
=6 some 7arts o6 t1e 7oem sound li/e t1e “4ong o6 3,sel6,” its general trend o6 t1oug1t suggests t1e s7irit o6 t1e “Passage to =ndia.” To A1itman, immortalit, means t1e e5erlasting li6e o6 t1e indi5idual soul, o6 t1e “single se7arate 7erson,” ?1ic1 al?a,s 1as been and ?ill 6ore5er be an “identit,.” A1itman@s m,sticism, t1ere6ore, is t1e intuiti5e consciousness and ecstatic 6eeling o6 t1e soul@s solidarit, ?it1 all ot1er identities souls, 7ersons% rat1er t1an an unio mystica ?1ic1 in e66ect is t1e total absor7tion o6 indi5idual e)istence b, “-od.” 4ome1o?, 1e belie5es, t1ere ?ill ta/e 7lace, or is ta/ing 7lace, a gradual de5elo7ment o6, and ?it1in, t1at identit, to?ard a more and more 7er6ect state o6 s7irituali+ation in t1e be,ond. =t is t1e :1ristian conce7tion o6 an eternal li6e in Hea5en in t1e sig1t o6 -od, gi5en a 71iloso71ical as7ect b, 5ague reminiscences o6 Leibni+@s monadolog,.
Traubel, until t1e second 1al6 o6 t1e @nineties, s7o/e t1e language, and seemed to s1are t1e religious 6ait1, o6 t1at m,sticism ?1ic1 is m,sticism onl, in name, since its real nature is dualistic and transcendental or e5en, i6 ?e acce7t *r. .ert+@s 7lausible anal,sis,[!3] 7ol,t1eistic. Ho?e5er,
A1itman@s 5agueness and inconsistencies could not 7ermanentl, /ee7 Traubel@s mind s7ellbound. A1itman s7rang 6rom Hua/er stoc/ ?it1 7racticall, no 1eritage o6 intellectual culture. Traubel@s 6at1er ?as a -erman Fe? o6 good education, 6amiliar ?it1 t1e essential ideas o6 t1e great t1in/ers o6 t1e ?orld. 9 /een intellect ca7able o6 7enetrating t1e most com7le) 7roblems ?as t1e son@s racial in1eritance. 4o 1e merel, 6ollo?ed a natural instinct ?1en 1e turned 6rom A1itman@s indiscriminate uni5ersalism and sentimental s7iritualism to t1e logical monism o6 47ino+a. A1et1er or not Traubel e5er made a s,stematic stud, o6 47ino+a is 1ard to tell. T1e c1ances are t1at 1e did not. 47ino+a@s name occurs but rarel, in 1is ?ritings.[!4] .ut it is certain, as = /no? 6rom Traubel@s last 6e? letters to me, t1at 1e 1ad made t1e general 7rinci7les o6 47ino+a@s Ethics 1is o?n. T1ere is no transcendental 4u7reme .eing. -od is immanent in nature. -od is nature, and nature is -od. -ood and E5il are not t?o di66erent 6orces o77osing eac1 ot1er but relati5e 5alues re7resenting stages o6 7er6ection and im7er6ection in t1e ?orld@s e5erlasting 7rocess o6 e5olution. T1is e5olution is based u7on t1e unalterable la? o6 cause and e66ect. E5er,t1ing t1at 1a77ens must 1a77en Eust as it does. E5er,t1ing de7ends u7on e5er, ot1er t1ing. =n t1e 7ers7ecti5e o6 eternit, t1ere is no small or big, no 1ig1 or lo?. 4ince indi5idual li6e and cosmic li6e 7er7etuall, merge into eac1 ot1er t1ere is no immortalit, o6 “identit,” in A1itman@s sense. =t is t1e contem7lation and s,m7at1etic reali+ation o6 t1is collecti5e and indi5idual interde7endence, co1erence, and unit,, t1at constitute Traubel@s m,sticism. His m,sticism, t1ere6ore, is o6 t1e monistic, immanent or cismanent, /ind and 6undamentall, di66erent 6rom t1at o6 A1itman, 1o?e5er man, 7oints o6 contact t1e t?o 6riends ma, 1a5e in t1eir 7ractical et1ics. Ior Traubel t1e belie6 in t1e oneness o6 all li6e becomes t1e source o6 1is lo5e o6 man/ind. Or s1ould ?e rat1er sa, t1at t1e mental 7rocess ?as re5ersedD t1at 1is 71iloso71, originated 6rom an inborn 1umanitarian instinct nouris1ed b, 7ractical e)7erienceC 9t an, rate, 1e agrees ?it1 47ino+a in considering it t1e one great dut, o6 t1e indi5idual to e)7and 1is indi5idual conscience to a collecti5e conscience. 4el6(assertion and sel6(sacri6ice, egotism and altruism are identical in t1at sense. Li/e 47ino+a, Traubel /no?s o6 no 7ersonal 1a77iness e)ce7t t1e one t1at results 6rom t1e 7erce7tion o6
“-od,” i. e., 6rom t1e reali+ation o6 oneness, ?1ereb, man is made to do onl, t1at ?1ic1 lo5e and sense o6 dut, demand. *ut, 7er6ormed 6or t1e sa/e o6 re?ard or 6or 6ear o6 7unis1ment is ?ort1less.
=t 1as o6ten been contended t1at t1ere is no religion 7ossible ?it1out meta71,sics. Optimos, li/e >iet+sc1e@s Zarathustra, contains suc1 a religion. Ior Traubel@s o7timistic collecti5ism is a religion in s7ite o6 t1e 7rotests o6 ort1odo) ecclesiastics. =ndeed, it is a su7er(religion inasmuc1 as its boundaries are not de6ined b, an, dogma. =t 1as no s7ecial 7ri5ileges reser5ed 6or t1e o66iciall, sa5ed. =t includes all races and 7eo7les, all c1urc1es and religions, on eGual terms. =ts onl, credo is an uns1a/able 6ait1 in man. >ot ac/no?ledging an,t1ing li/e an original sin, it denies t1e :1ristian doctrine o6 eternal damnation and assumes uni5ersal “sal5ation” on a 7urel, 1uman basis. 9ccording to 4c1leiermac1er, eac1 indi5idual is 1is o?n mediator as soon as 1e becomes conscious o6 1is absolute de7endence on -od. 9ccording to Traubel, man is “sa5ed” in t1e degree t1at 1is 1eart is 6illed ?it1 lo5e.
Traubel must 1a5e gi5en t1e 7roblem o6 sal5ation muc1 t1oug1t. ., t1ree successi5e stages 1e seems 6inall, to 1a5e come to a solution ?1ic1 1is o?n 1eart could acce7t. Lo5e ?ill al?a,s su66er 6or lo5e@s sa/e. He ?1ose lo5e is great enoug1 to su66er 6or 1is 6ello? beings is as true a mart,r 6or t1e cause o6 man/ind as ?as :1rist 1imsel6, ?1ile “t1ere is a 6ate ?orse t1an 6alls to t1e man nailed to a crossB it is t1e 6ate o6 t1e man ?1o 1as no cross.” T1us t1e 7oem “T1e ?ord o6 all ?ords is t1e ?ord o6 t1e mediator” ta/es u7 t1e moti6 o6 t1e c1ant “T1e .lood o6 t1e 3art,rs” and carries it to its logical conclusionB
"* should feel ashamed and sorry for my race if only one or t o of its specimens endured the heat and and the cold of persecution! 0or the road is full of martyrs ho came bet een and made life easier for the rest! 0or the sore feet of the eary came bet een, and the sad aches of the condemned came bet een, And before the eclipsed martyrdoms all the noisy martyrdoms are still%$
4uc1 mart,rdom is caused b, t1e e5ils o6 so71isticated ci5ili+ation. =6 natural conditions
7re5ail, “t1e sa5ior is not a man nailed to a cross” 0
1#he savior is any man or oman ho ithout cross or nail lives earth's simple life on the plane of its first propositions%$
Traubel could raise t1e Guestion o6 sal5ation onl, as long as 1is monistic 71iloso71, 1ad not been 6irml, establis1edD as long as 1e loo/ed 6or a cure o6 ci5ili+ation@s disease in t1e 6as1ion o6 8ousseau@s 7rimiti5e 7anacea. T1e secret o6 monism once unco5ered, all secondar, Guestions ?ere ans?eredB
"* found that everything as the collateral of something else, * found that nothing as left ithout its e&ual on the exchange, * found that the seed as revived in the tree and that the tree passed immortally into the seed again, and that this as the formula of being, * found that the sins and crimes of men ere passed in and returned good gold%%%%$
=n t1is sense t1e 7oem “T1ere is not enoug1” does a?a, ?it1 t1e conce7tion o6 damnation or sal5ation entirel,B
"#here is not enough bad in the universe to damn any man, #here is not enough good in the universe to save any man! (an is not to be saved or damned + he is to be fulfilled%$
.ut ?1at is 6ul6ilmentC Iul6ilment means 7er6ection, and a6ter man 1as reac1ed t1e 6inal stage o6 7er6ection, ?1at t1enC *oes not Traubel@s religion a6ter all 7romise a Hea5en or a >ir5anaC Lessing in 1is Education of the Human Race concei5es o6 t1e re5elation o6 -od to man as a 7rocess o6 e5olution ?1ic1 ma/es 7ossible t1e sal5ation o6 e5er, single soul. 3an is gi5en all eternit, to reac1 t1e ultimate state o6 7er6ection. 9nd ,et, 6or 1is o?n 7erson, Lessing ?ould rat1er lea5e 7er6ection to t1e 4u7reme .eing and remain an im7er6ect, e5er(erring 1uman being, because li6e ?it1out t1e stimulus o6 constant endea5or did not seem ?ort1 li5ing to 1im. 4imilarl,, Traubel@s idea o6 7er6ection 1as not1ing
to do ?it1 t1e :1ristian Hea5en. T1at, ?1en attained, ?ould tr, “t1e 7atience o6 1is s7irit.”
"2eaven as the unattainable attained+but * did not ish to close my account ith desire%%%% *, heaven's o n, having on heaven, consumed ith regret over the lost paradise of my imperfections *$
9nd no? t1e brea/ ?it1 meta71,sical s7eculationD ?it1 transcendental idealismD ?it1 ort1odo) :1ristianit,, is com7leteB
"(y heaven contains neither saved nor damned+my heaven contains only love, (y heaven is not given to distinction+it flo s out full-tide to the obscure and the useless, (y heaven is simply you hen you love me and * hen * love you,%%% % 2eaven's earth and heaven's heaven one in an impartial destiny, #he result ithheld from none and not postponed%$
T1ere 1as al?a,s been an antagonism bet?een inde7endent artists, 7oets, ?riters, t1in/ers, men o6 action on t1e one 1and and organi+ed grou7s o6 7ro6essionals on t1e ot1er. Traubel ?rote a “collect” u7on t1e “?riters ?1o are tr,ing to ?rite” and ?1o are “selling t1eir souls” instead o6 being true to t1emsel5es and to li6e. 4imilarl,, 1e 6inds 6ault ?it1 7riests ?1o subordinate religion to t1e doctrines o6 t1eir res7ecti5e c1urc1esD ?it1 7ro6essors ?1o ignore t1e 6acts o6 li6e 6or t1e sa/e o6 t1eir sc1olastic learningD ?it1 an, institution ?1atsoe5er t1at sets u7 t1e arti6icial barriers o6 class distinctions and s7ecial interests against t1e uni5ersalit, o6 li6e. =t is li6e, t1e ideal li6e t1e essence o6 ?1ic1 is lo5e, t1at t1e 7oet see/s 6or in all mani6estations o6 e)ternal li6e. =nstead o6 ?ords 1e demands o6 t1e ?riters con6irming deeds o6 lo5e. Irom t1e “eminent 7ro6essor” and 1is “dress 7arade o6 71rases” 1e turns a?a,, uncon5inced, out into t1e street ?1ere 1e 6inds in t1e e,es o6 t1e 7oor =talian laborer t1at s7ar/ o6 li6e ?1ic1 t1e sc1olar@s learning 1ad 6ailed to gi5e.
T1e ?1ole section “.e6ore boo/s and a6ter boo/s is t1e 1uman soul%” is an elaboration o6 t1is t1eme. .e1ind t1e singer@s song, be1ind t1e artist@s 7icture, be1ind t1e mig1t, s,m71on,, t1ere rises, inde7endent o6 t1e artist@s ?ill, t1e creati5e 6orce o6 li6e itsel6. >or can t1e 7oet be decei5ed b, t1e 6alse singers, b, t1e 6alse gods, b, t1e sla5es o6 inane con5entions. >o matter t1at t1e, /ee7 t1e trut1 6rom t1e ?orldD no matter t1at 1is o?n 7lain song is as ,et un1eardB t1ere ?ill come a time ?1en t1e 7ast 1as said its last ?ordsD ?1en t1e ?orld ?a/es u7 6rom its slee7 to listen to t1e call o6 t1e ne? eraB
"#he sayers of ords have said the last ord! #hey have shut the doors, they have closed the shutters, they have put out the lights! #he sayers of ords have said! 3o there shall be no more speech, no the orld may sleep% * come in the dead of its night and challenge the orld to meet a ne day%$
9gain ?e must re6er to A1itman to a77reciate Traubel. A1en A1itman in 1is Children of Adam ad5ocated t1e eGualit, o6 man and ?oman, 1e 6ollo?ed t1e lead o6 t1e ad5anced t1in/ers o6 1is time. He reali+ed t1at t1e democratic 7rinci7les o6 libert,, eGualit,, and 6raternit, could not be reser5ed 6or one 1al6 o6 man/ind alone, i6 t1e structure o6 a ne? societ, ?as to be erected u7on an enduring 6oundation. T1e ne? era could be made 7ossible onl, b, a radical re5ision o6 t1e traditional code o6 masculine 7rerogati5es and b, a com7lete brea/ ?it1 t1e negati5e asceticism o6 t1e :1urc1. .ut A1itman ?as not 1a77, in t1e c1oice o6 1is ?ea7ons. He attac/ed t1e des7otic one(sidedness o6 s7iritualism ?it1 t1e brutalit, o6 a sensualistB 1e glori6ied t1e 6les1 ?it1 t1e naturalness o6 a 7agan. T1e crudeness o6 1is anatomical ?ord(lists o66ended t1e est1etic taste o6 liberals no less t1an t1e sense o6 decorum o6 7uritans. Ior t1is reason t1e in1erent trut1 o6 1is ideas ?as lost to most o6 1is readers.
Traubel@s 5ie?s on se)ual lo5e, on 6at1er1ood and mot1er1ood, on t1e eGualit, o6 man and ?oman, are as radical as t1ose o6 A1itman. He, too, em71asi+es t1e sacredness o6 bod, and soul ali/e.
He, too, demands t1at t1e ne? societ, be 6ounded u7on t1e absolutel, unrestricted eGualit, o6 t1e se)es. .ut ?1en Traubel ?rote “To ,ou going or coming, O ?oman,” 1e must 1a5e been more mature in s7irit, i6 not in age, t1an A1itman ?as ?1en 1e ?rote “9 ?oman ?aits 6or me.” Traubel must 1a5e been ?1oll, 6ree and t1ere6ore ca7able o6 sel6(restraint, ?1ile A1itman in regular storm(and(stress 6as1ion o5ers1ot t1e mar/. Traubel 6ound a 7er6ectl, artistic and 7oetical e)7ression 6or t1e most delicate o6 all subEects, ?1ereas A1itman sometimes con6used t1e science o6 71,siolog, ?it1 t1e art o6 7oetr,, sometimes libido ?it1 amor. Let e5er, mot1er and e5er, mot1er(to(be read “<ou are going to 1a5e a bab,” and “9nd no? t1e bab, is born” 0 t1ere is no more beauti6ul tribute, in an, language, to 1uman li6e in its indi5idual beginnings and in its uni5ersal signi6icance. T1ere is a 6inalit, in t1e statement o6 6acts, a soundness and 7urit, in t1e s7irit 7ermeating all o6 t1ese 7oems ?1ic1 ?ill not 6ail to im7ress e5en t1e most 7rudis1 o6 7uritansB
"0or hen the body is clean body and soul are one in holiness, And hen the soul is clean soul and body are one in holiness%$
T1e 5ista broadens. 4e)ual lo5e is s,mbolical o6 uni5ersal lo5e and t1e abstractness o6 uni5ersal lo5e in its turn gi5es ?a, to t1e concreteness o6 indi5idual 6riends1i7 and collecti5e comrades1i7. T1e ?ords 6riend and comrade as used b, Traubel are entirel, 6ree 6rom t1e sense o6 morbid “ad1esi5eness” t1at A1itman attac1ed to t1em in 1is Calamus. T1is must be stated 1ere, and cannot be stated em71aticall, enoug1, i6 Traubel is to be understood at all as a 7ersonalit, Guite inde7endent o6 A1itman. =n t1e grou7s o6 7oems “Ae are Eust brot1ers” and “T1e 7eo7le are t1e masters o6 li6e” ?e 6ind some o6 t1e best o6 Traubel@s l,rics, suc1 as t1e elegies “O m, dead comrade” and “9s = loo/ into ,our gra5e.” =t is t1roug1 t1ese s1orter 7ieces t1at Traubel t1e 7oet can be most easil, a77roac1ed. Traubel t1e 7ro71et, on t1e ot1er 1and, ta/ing u7 t1e main t1eme o6 Chants Communal once more, a77ears 1ere as t1e se5erest critic o6 our s1am ci5ili+ation. Fustice becomes a categorical im7erati5eD lo5e, a c1allenge. Ho? is t1e crucial Guestion to be ans?eredB “A1en ,ou sentence ,our comrade to
1ate rat1er t1an to lo5e 0 are ,ou so sureC A1en ,ou sentence ,our comrade to deat1 rat1er t1an to li6e 0 are ,ou so sureC” 0 =6 t1e 7eo7le, as t1e 7oet “?it1 glad assurance” sings, are reall, t1e masters o6 li6e, 1o? does it 1a77en t1at some “7eo7le sit 6ed at t1eir tables or ?armed at t1eir 6ires ?1ile t1eir ?1eat is so?ed in star5ation and t1eir coal is mined in t1e nort1 ?ind”C =s it t1is t1e, 1a5e to sa,B
"#he orld is too busy! the orld has no time to hear! #he orld is too busy! the orld has no time to love! #he orld is too busy! the orld has no time to be .ust%$
T1e bitter sarcasm o6 “= 1ear t1e laug1 o6 t1e un6ed c1ildren” and t1e somber tones o6 “T1e bread line trails its clouded ?a, into m, sunn, 1eart” 7ro5e 1o? near 7essimism e5en t1e aut1or o6 Optimos could come. T1e tragic 6arce o6 our s,stem o6 greed, egotism, and 71arisaic sel6(rig1teousness is 1ere unmas/ed in its bare 1ideousness. Li/e >iet+sc1e@s, Traubel@s o7timism is 6ounded u7on a 6ull recognition o6 t1e e)isting e5il. >or 1as Traubel been s7ared t1e struggle ?it1 doubt. 8emembering Hu)le,@s guarded statement concerning t1e t1eor, o6 e5olution, 1e s7ea/s occasionall, o6 1is o?n 71iloso71, as o6 a “?or/ing 1,7ot1esis.” =n 1is 7oem “= don@t /no? ?1at -od is about all da,” 1e 6ran/l, admits t1at 1e Jno? and t1en comes to conclusions ?1ic1 are treac1erous ?it1 des7air.J He ?as too 1onest a t1in/er to ma/e lig1t o6 t1e terrible 6acts o6 li6e. He ?as “sic/ ?it1 t1e sic/ness o6 t1e ?orld” 0 but 1e ?as also “?ell ?it1 t1e 1ealt1 o6 t1e ?orld.”
Li/e Chants Communal, Optimos closes ?it1 an outloo/ into a better ?orld. =6 t1e star5ing c1ildren, i6 t1e 5ictims o6 e)7loitation, i6 t1e dis6ranc1ised masses cannot see t1e lig1t o6 a ne? era da?ning, t1e 7oet canB “T1e ?orst comes be6ore t1e best comes.” His 6inal ans?er to all doubts and Guestions is al?a,s t1e sameB lo5e. “= sus7ect t1at some1o? it ?ill all be e)7lained and t1at it ?ill be all about lo5e” ?1at -od is doing. He 1as no 7roo6s to o66er 6or 1is 6ait1, di66ering in t1is res7ect greatl, 6rom t1e mat1ematical accurac, o6 47ino+a@s arguments. He sa,s ,es to li6e acce7ting t1e be?ildering 71enomena o6 li6e as 6acts, Eust as 1e acce7ts t1e in5incibilit, o6 t1e 7o?er o6 lo5e as a
6act. A1at gi5es 1im strengt1 in times o6 ?ea/ness is not t1e belie6 in a transcendental -od o6 lo5eD it is t1e belie6 in t1e essential goodness o6 man/ind as re7resented b, t1e masses o6 t1e common 7eo7le. T1e ?orld ?ar destro,ed 1is con6idence in t1e 7resent leaders but not 1is trust in t1e 7eo7le. =n discussing 1is o?n indi5idualit, as com7ared ?it1 Emerson, Hugo, Tolsto,, and A1itman, 1e said to 3rs. .ainB “4a, ?1at ,ou 7lease about all t1at, but al?a,s sa, also t1at = 1a5e emerged 6rom t1e cro?d and go bac/ to it 0 t1at but 6or t1e cro?d m, indi5idualit, ?ould 1a5e no meaning.” T1e association ?it1, and lo5e 6or, “t1e ungarnis1ed 7o7ulace o6 t1e 7a5ements” 1e calls a “bat1 o6 man ?as1ing me clean.” His onl, god ?as t1e di5init, o6 man.
T1e time 1as not arri5ed ?1en 6ull Eustice can be done to Horace Traubel. Ho? s1ould a ?orld drun/en ?it1 t1e atrocities o6 a ?ar o6 blood and ?it1 t1e atrocities o6 a 7eace o6 star5ation listen to t1e 5oice o6 lo5eC .esides, not nearl, all o6 Traubel@s ?ritings 1a5e as ,et been made generall, accessible. Irom The Conservator alone, not to mention ot1er Eournals and 7a7ers, enoug1 material o6 7ermanent 5alue mig1t be selected to 6ill se5eral ot1er 5olumes li/e Chants Communal, Collects, or Optimos. T1ere are an inde6inite number o6 essa,s on economic, social, and 7olitical subEects. T1ere are dramatic, literar,, and musical re5ie?s in ?1ic1 Traubel@s originalit, o6ten a77ears more e5ident t1an in 1is ot1er ?or/. T1ere are, 6inall,, 7iles o6 manuscri7ts 6or t1e great A1itman biogra71,. Traubel@s deat1, on t1e eig1t1 o6 4e7tember, !"!", created 5er, little, i6 an,, commotion outside t1e immediate circles o6 6riends. =6 t1e so(called “leading” organs o6 7ublic o7inion too/ notice o6 t1e e5ent at all t1e, ga5e Traubel credit 6or ?1at 1e did as “A1itman@s literar, e)ecutor and biogra71er,” not 6or ?1at 1e did as Horace Traubel. =t is trueB no 1istorian o6 9merican literature ?ill e5er be able to inter7ret Aalt
A1itman and 1is 7eriod ?it1out leaning u7on Traubel. .ut it seems to me no less true t1at, ?it1 Traubel@s o?n original ?or/ le6t out, t1e 1istorian o6 9merican literature since A1itman ?ould 6ind 1is subEect de7ri5ed o6 muc1, i6 not o6 most, o6 its 5italit, and s7iritual signi6icance.
=t 1as not been m, intention to set Traubel u7 as anot1er 1ero to ?ors1i7. Ae 1a5e 1ad Guite enoug1 o6 A1itmania to dread an e7idemic o6 Traubelmania. T1e 6oregoing 7ages do not ad5ocate blind adoration but t1e serious stud, o6 a 7ersonalit, and an aut1or ?1o is all too o6ten critici+ed ?it1out being /no?n. Horace Traubel claimed little 6or 1imsel6. He ?is1ed 1is 6riends rat1er to belittle t1an to magni6, 1is ?or/. 96ter reading t1e manuscri7t o6 *a5id Larsner@s monogra71 1e 7ublis1ed a re5ie? o6 it in The Conservator in ?1ic1 1e e)7ressed 1is sur7rise t1at an, one s1ould consider 1im im7ortant enoug1 to ma/e 1im t1e subEect o6 a boo/. He e)7ected neit1er 6ame nor material re?ard 6rom t1e ?orld. He said to 3rs. .ainB “T1e ?orld don@t ?ant me, but = ?ant m,sel6.” [!&] He did 1is dut, as 1e sa? it li5ing 1is o?n li6e according to 1is o?n ideals. Li/e e5er, creator, 1e 1o7ed t1at 1is ?or/ ?ould be understood sometimeB but 1e entertained no illusions as regards t1e attitude to 1im eit1er o6 t1e res7onsible 6e? or o6 t1e irres7onsible man,.
O6 all 1is 7ublis1ed boo/s Chants Communal 7robabl, 1as t1e best 7romise o6 being recei5ed b, t1e 7eo7le 6or ?1om it ?as ?ritten. 9s labor graduall, is coming into its o?n, in t1ings s7iritual as ?ell as material, it ?ill see/ an artistic 6ormulation o6 its ideals, and t1is it ma, 6ind 1ere. E)ce7t 6or t1e labor 7oems, O7timos ?ill 5er, li/el, ne5er 6ind more t1an at best a 6e? 1undred readers. E5en “intellectuals” as a rule do not ta/e t1e time t1at is necessar, to o5ercome t1e 7reEudices o6 literar, taste and religious con5ention. Too man, o6 t1em cling to t1e 1abit o6 measuring t1e greatness o6 an aut1or b, t1e ,ardstic/ o6 t1eir idios,ncrasies. Onl, s7iritual 6reedom res7onds to s7iritual 6reedom. To t1ose ?1o are lords or sla5es in s7irit t1e message o6 Optimos sounds too disturbingl, 6ree. T1e, ?ill discard Traubel@s 71iloso71, as “all ?rong” and continue to ignore an aut1or 6or no ot1er reason but
t1at t1e, do not agree ?it1 1is o7inions. 9nd ,etB
"*'m .ust tal-ing all the time about love! And maybe *'m nearer the meanings of things than any one ho tal-s anything else! And maybe your laugh about me is out of place! maybe * should be the one to laugh! And maybe some day you ill put my portrait upon your alls and speaell of it after * am dead! * ho go about among you .ust tal-ing all the time about love%$
[!#] .. A. Huebsc1, >e? <or/, !"!$. [!3] Cf Eduard .ert+, !er "an#ee$Heiland. *resden, !"$M. 77. !'$6. T1is is b, 6ar t1e most sc1olarl, discussion o6 A1itman@s 71iloso71,. [!4] :om7are, 1o?e5er, t1e 7oem “47ino+a” b, E. 8itc1ie, 7ublis1ed in The Conservator, *ecember, !'"". [!&] .e6ore t1is article ?ent to 7ress = recei5ed t1e 7roo6s o6 3r. Larsner@s boo/B Horace Traubel% His Life and &or#. ., courtes, o6 t1e aut1or = am 7ermitted to Guote t1e 6ollo?ing statement b, Traubel in con5ersation ?it1 3r. LarsnerB “>o one, not a soul, not e5en 9nne, /no?s ?1at a terri6ic struggle = 1a5e 1ad to 7ut u7 all m, li6e to be ?1at little = am. O -od2 sometimes it@s been a?6ul. T1e tide al?a,s, some1o?, seemed to go t1e ot1er ?a,, and = tr,ing to be m,sel6 ?as o6ten stranded in midstream. =t ?as t1e utter loneliness o6 t1e struggle t1at made it 1ard. Let a man tr, to be 1imsel62 Let 1im tr, to 6ollo? t1e lig1t o6 1is o?n soul2 A1at does 1e come to at t1e endC” ....3r. Larsner mentions a boo/ b, Traubel un/no?n to me, and e5identl, no longer on t1e mar/etB The !ollar and the 'an.
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