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C O U R S E 
Poetry in America: Whitman
Elisa New, Harvard University
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Walt Whitman and the City
Notes taken on February 10, 2014 by Edward Tanguay
only in the 19th century do the cities we now live in begin to be built
19th cities for the first time become larger and more populated than any person can easily know
vast grids of streets
where many thousands of people live pressed in together
the first buildings with 4,5, and 6 stories were beginning to be constructed
how to fireproof them, make them accomodate unprecedented numbers of workers and residents
so large that modes of mass transportation have to be developed
Walt Whitman
son of carpenter
in his youth, he built these buildings
came of age during one of the building booms in New York
he watches a city come into being, his self-consciousness enhanced by the change he sees all around him
like Dickens and Dostoevsky, describing people move from mode of transportation to mode of transportation daily
before the 19th century, no one took a ferry daily in order to go to work
commerce is exploding, goods from all over the world
the explosion of print is making it possible for goods to be advertised
material objects for sale
city is crowded and colorful
the poets Lowell and Longfellow still writing about mythological characters
reflections on objects of nature, trees, sunsets
Whitman wrote about ferries, omnibuses, horse carts, half-completed buildings
Whitman's city
work and leisure flow into each other on every block, something we are used to now
buskers entertaining, children playing
workmen return to work sites
the interpenetration of labor, commerce and leisure, no division between workplace and recreation place
very stimulating to him, turning every workday into an event
you are on your way to printing office and what a feast of images, what a concert of sounds
your world is a show with hundreds of extras on hand
fountains sparkle in sun, a mixture of spectacle and function