Sunday, May 2, 2010

Out Spotlight

Most are familiar with "America's Poet" Walt Whitman, and his seminal Leaves of Grass.There was no regular rhyme or rhythm to the lines; they mixed elements of prose and verse, in a colloquial and personal style. The subjects of the poems were the self, the body and the multitude of America. The collection did not come without controversy, many of his poems celebrated sensual pleasure and sexual desire. In Whitman's "Calamus" poems, which dealt with male-male relationships, he celebrated the "love of comrades". While some debate whether he was speaking of homosexuality, most believe he was expressing his feelings and his sexuality.

His works were inspirational for many writers that followed. Today's Out Spotlight is not about Whitman, but of one of the long loves and inspiration in Whitman's life, Peter Doyle.

They met on a winter evening in Washington, D.C., in 1865, when Whitman was there working in the hospitals . The twenty-one-year-old Doyle was the conductor on a Pennsylvania Avenue horsecar, and the forty-five-year-old Whitman was the car's sole passenger. "Doyle recalled, 'We were familiar at once—I put my hand on his knee—we understood . . . From that time on, we were the biggest sort of friends'"

Peter Doyle was born in Limerick, Ireland, on June 3, 1843, to Peter Doyle and Catherine Nash. His family immigrated to the US, when Doyle was around 8, locating to Alexandria, Virginia, and then around 1856-57 "bad times came on" during the general national depression and the family moved to Richmond, VA where his father found work as a blacksmith for the Tredegar Iron Works. On the eve of the Civil War, Tredegar was the largest ironmaker in the South and the fourth largest such employer in the United States. During the Civil War, the Confederates relied heavily on the Tredegar works to supply it with arms.

Doyle came into manhood armed as a Confederate soldier against the Union that Whitman held so dear. He signed up in the Confederate Army one week and one day after Virginia succeeded from the Union, he was seventeen years old. "Military papers described Doyle as 5 feet 8 inches tall, with blue eyes, a light complexion and light-colored hair. Doyle's civilian occupation was given as "cooper,", a barrel or cask maker."

Doyle was marginally literate working man and not a intellectual or social match for Whitman, the well-known poet and federal employee whose Washington friends included Lincoln's former secretary, John Hay, Ohio Congressman and future president James Garfield, and Attorney General of the US, J. Hubley Ashton.

In many ways, Doyle seems an unlikely companion for Whitman, yet, in the ways that mattered most, Doyle was precisely the kind of man Whitman loved best. The poet always followed his own admonition that he wrote in the Preface to the 1855 Leaves of Grass, to "go freely with powerful uneducated persons". Doyle's youthfulness, grace and good health, was the perfect medicine for the war-weary Whitman, who had spent the previous two years in Washington Union army hospitals nursing the wounded.

"They spent long afternoons riding the streetcars, or eating fresh fruits at Center Market. Evenings were reserved for moonlit walks along the Potomac River that had Whitman reciting Shakespeare's sonnets to Doyle, and Doyle relating his favorite limericks to Whitman. Whitman also relished the opportunity to be part of the young man's large family circle. It included Doyle's widowed mother, Catherine, and his younger brother Edward and sister Margaret, for whom Pete made a home. Also nearby were the families of married brothers James and Francis, and aunt Ann and uncle Michael Nash, whom Whitman counted among his dear friends."

Most associate Doyle with Whitman's "Calamus" poems, but he did not serve as the muse for the verses first published years before they met. The satisfaction that Whitman derived from his relationship with Doyle, however, may have influenced him to drop several of the more anxiety-ridden "Calamus" poems in later editions of Leaves of Grass after 1865. Whitman's expressed affection for the former Confederate artilleryman reinforced the theme of reconciliation in the poet's war writings and his eyewitness narrative of Lincoln's assassination found in Memoranda During the War may have been inspired by Doyle, who was at Ford's Theater on that fateful evening.

Whitman suffered a stroke in January 1873 which caused him to move that year in Camden, New Jersey, to be with his brother George and his sister-in-law. The intensity of Whitman's and Doyle's waned with the time and distance. While in Camden, another gentleman, Harry Stafford, provided Whitman companionship that Doyle was not there to give.

Then in the mid-1880s Doyle and Whitman renewed their relationship more intimately when Doyle now employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad as a baggage master, settled in Philadelphia. He made weekly visits across the river to be with Whitman in Camden. Later the round-the-clock presence of caretakers during the poet's last years eventually alienated Doyle, whose visits became more infrequent. Before Whitman's death in March 1892, Doyle explained to him the reason why he visited so rarely, and the poet understood. Doyle attended Whitman's funeral at Harleigh Cemetery.

Doyle made a lasting contribution to Whitman's biography in 1897 when "he allowed Richard Maurice Bucke to edit and publish Whitman's letters to Doyle, which Doyle had entrusted to Bucke in 1880. Included with the letters was Bucke's interview of Doyle, which Henry James in his 1898 review of the book called 'the most charming passage in the volume'" Their thirty-year relationship from 1865–1892 left a legacy of loving letters from the older poet to his younger companion helps to understand Whitman's emotion and sexuality.

Pete this is a wonderful country out here, & no one knows how big it is till he launches out in the midst of it . . . the general run of all these Western places, city & country is very prosperous, on the rush! plenty of people, plenty to eat, & apparently plenty of money--. . . the most interesting part of my travel has been the Plains . . . Colorado & Western Kansas . . . the herdsmen . . . always on horseback, they call 'em cow-boys . . . I used to like to get among them to talk with them


Sigh said...

Just beautiful - right up there with the most beautiful of OMG's Out Spotlights. :)

looks said...

Jake Gyllenhaal was chosen for 'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time' because of his looks.

The film's producer Jerry Bruckheimer admits the Oscar-nominated actor was first choice to play the title role because he looked the part.

He said: "For a start he is a wonderful actor and he is very handsome.

"We have done this with so many actors. Will Smith in 'Bad Boys', he was seen as a comedic actor. Nicolas Cage in 'Con Air'. He had always played various characters but was never an action her until that and 'The Rock'. I'm a fan of certain actors and Jake is one of them." source

Special K said...

Quite the weekend. Nothing like a boil water mandate for 2.5 million people in Massachusetts to get everyone a little nutty. Especially trying to find bottled water. Spent time boiling and snagging a little water at the store. You don't realize how much you need potable water for stuff. It's been ages since I lived somewhere you had to boil all your water. Talk about watched pots and patience.

m said...

Excellent spotlight today. I always learn so much on Sundays.

What a nightmare Special K. I feel for you and hope the problem will be fixed soon.

destiny said...

Very poetic Spotlight.

What's going on that you have to boil your water? What a pain.

M and M said...

Broken Pipe in Boston Area

Special K said...

There was 10foot pipe that broke (actually the cuppler blew) moving the water from the water treatment facility yesterday morning . All the clean water went into the Charles River. They had to go to a water reserve that does have all the water treatment, so doesn't pass for drinkable water, but they had to use it for keep a water supply of some sort going. So, there's water for bathing and flushing, everything else needs to be boiled or with diluted bleach for cleaning/washing. There are around 30 communities, including all the universities and colleges, hospitals, hotels, businesses, residents with a boil water mandate. . People took a run on bottle water, they went nutty. Gov. called a state of emergency and the National Guard started water distributions today.
Water paper plates, disposable silver ware and cups are cleaned out.

They are a little more confident tonight it will be fixed in days and not weeks

M and M said...

A perfect tribute to a great man and an enduring friendship. Whitman’s ability to celebrate freedom and express intimacy was about as muscular and epic as it gets. I admire his “Calamus” poems and how he elevated letter writing to a sensually robust art form. He was a real child of the Enlightenment who unlike his more conservative Christian countryman believed the human body was sacred and celebrated nature in all its tactile forms. In fact, as I was enjoying your post, one of my favorite quotes tippy-toed into my consciousness and got me thinking how a certain two young men might do well to follow the wisdom of Whitman’s declarative command, and perhaps reconsider some of the conventional choices they have made in the past:

Re-examine all that you have been told... [and] dismiss that which insults your soul. –Walt Whitman

Thanks, Special.

prairiegirl said...

Special, maybe I should bring a 24-pack of Dasani???? lol.

That's awful having to boil your water. And you know that as soon as you're told you need to do that, you will suddenly become unbearably thirsty until you can think of nothing else. Hope it's fixed very, very soon!!

prairiegirl said...

And that was just a beautiful, beautiful, so romantic story.


Someone traveling across the way to visit someone very romantic. And very cool that they were able to resume their relationship after what seemed to be maybe a permanent separation.

Hey, Walt Whitman isn't who Whitman's chocolates is also named after, is it? I'll have to google it.

Hey!! Here's a funny. Remember last weekend I was asking (to dead air apparently, lol) someone to help me finish naming the original MTV v-jays? All I had was Martha Quinn, Mark Goodman, and Alan something. I was driving across the interstate today on my way home from church and it hit me!! Nina Blackwood!!

LOLLLLLLL!!!! Where in the heck did that come from? I have no idea. I had a haircut on my mind because I was trying to hurry over to Great Clips for their $6.99/haircut sale. But you know, Nina (the cool chick) had that neat frosty blondish spikey haircut. Maybe that's what made me think of it, who knows.

And now I just remembered Alan Hunter. He was the cute blond guy.

And now that just leaves the African American guy and I had his name earlier this morning but now it's left me.

I'm so glad I could play this game all by myself over the course of an entire week.

lol. Well, if someone thinks of it, there's a virtual Sonic cherry limeade in it for you. But you can't google it. You have to know it on your own.
Dangit, what was his name. I can see his face. He was always so cheerful and laughing.

Oh well, it'll hit me again.

M and M said...

Or, maybe Special needs Dastan's dagger to turn back time? Hey, wait a minute. How about if Dastan takes a Dasani break, so Special can sneak up on him and steal his dagger. Special, I said steal, not fondle! LOL.

No broken pipe. No Reeke. No closeted Jake and Austin. Ahhhh. Life could be beautiful. LOL.

M and M said...

Bill Bellamy?

prairiegirl said...

Nope, M&M, but nice try!! I do remember Bill Bellamy, though. He was so cute. But that's not this guy. You know, I think his last name was Jackson and actually he's now deceased. His name is just right there on the tip....aaaaargh.

One more thing before I hit the hay that I just remembered I saw while standing in line at Wal Mart.

Here's the worst jab yet by Reese's PR.

In this week's US Reekly, I mean US Weekly, there was the story on Reese and how fast she's turned up the rams on her Toth Toddy and once more there was the "for once she's enjoying a relationship with a mature man". That wasn't the kicker.

The kicker was this inside source (close friend, close source, blah blah whichever) said that with Ryan Philippe & Jakey G, Reese had relationships where she had to do alot of "mothering".

As Dean Martin would say,

"Ain't that a Kick In the Head."

M and M said...

Oh,yeah. J.J. Jackson!

prairiegirl said...

That's it!!!!

JJ Jackson.

And here's your Sonic cherry limeade, m&m. I love those cherries. Used to be, you got one in the bottom, one at the top. Now you're lucky if you even get one.

JJ Jackson.

thanks, m&m!! Now I won't have answers hitting me going across the bridge tomorrow, lol.

M and M said...

You are welcome. Didn't want you tossing and turning all night. At least, not over that. Maybe Jake's biceps, or boyish smile. *wink*

WISTV said...

Financial troubles marred filming of movie in Columbia
Posted: Apr 30, 2010 5:28 PM EDT

By Taylor Kearns

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It was supposed to be Columbia's big close-up, but it has never seen a release.

Two years ago, Hollywood came to town to film a movie called Nailed, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessica Biel.

A new report indicates the entire production was marred with financial troubles that eventually forced the crew to leave town without shooting one final scene.

Kim Masters is a Hollywood reporter for the Daily Beast. She says financial problems from day 1 crippled production.

"There are many instances where they were told the money was coming, then it didn't come or it came but it was suppose to be a cashier's check or it was a personal check and it was gonna take much longer to clear than they'd been told," said Masters.

Masters says the problems stemmed from the film's west coast financier. Eventually, with $26 million spent and just one scene left to shoot, the film was shut down.

"To shoot everything but one scene and then pull the plug and have $26 million sitting there with these kinds of stars, I just don't think I've heard of something like that," said Masters.

As far as seeing Columbia on the big screen, Masters says it's hard to say if it will happen.

"It's not just the scene that has to be shot, it's a whole elaborate post-production process and extensive marketing that would be associated even if you're trying to do a modest release so it's a complicated problem," said Masters.

It's a complicated problem that will take millions more to solve.

One member of the production said to the best of his knowledge, all members of the photography crew have been paid what they were owed. He added that the movie's financial problems are already stuff of Hollywood legend.


london tb said...

^ :(

Back to Walt Whitman: "Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes."

Favourite - thanks Spesh.

destiny said...

Hi London!

Reese had relationships where she had to do alot of "mothering".

LOL. You just know her pr picked that up from here, wft2 and other places on the internet that were always going on about the mother-son vibe of Reeke.

Country Music Artist Chely Wright Comes Out said...

Country singer Chely Wright's reasoning was sound. "There had never, ever been a country music artist who had acknowledged his or her homosexuality," she tells PEOPLE. "I wasn't going to be the first."

But now Wright is changing her tune. "Nothing in my life has been more magical than the moment I decided to come out," she says.

Wright, 39, recalls of her youth in the South: "I don't have a memory in my life that doesn't include the dream of making music." But during her childhood and rapid ascent to fame in the county world, she also experienced a community in which homosexuality was shunned. "I hid everything for my music," says Wright.

The singer-songwriter, who has won both an Academy of Country Music and a Country Music award, will later this week release her memoir, Like Me, as well as her first album in five years, Lifted off the Ground.

She'll also appear on the Today Show Wednesday to discuss her personal journey. For more on Chely Wright's and her decision to come out, pick up PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday,,20365936,00.html

crap said...

She had to mother Ryan too, I guess she felt like she had 3 kids both times.

Special K said...

Good to see you London!