Leaves of Grass 8.6分
读书笔记 34

When A Photographer Meets A Poet – Edward Weston's Photographs and Walt Whitman's Poems Walt Whitman is one of the greatest poets in America and his creating of the free verse – poems without regular rhyme scheme – , was a landmark event in American literary history. Whitman's most impressive poetry anthology, Leaves of Grass, was published in 1855 and only contained twelve poems. Weston photographed rural scenes 80 years after Whitman wrote, but both the poems and the photographs shared the same admiration for their country, and both entitled as Leaves of Grass. In his forty years career, Weston took photographs for a various sets of subjects with the background of Whitman's poems. When two great men's works come together, it shows the perfect combination and collaboration of literature and photography. The emotional observation and expression in Whitman's poems and the detailed landscapes and objects captured in Weston's photography bring about a similar atmosphere and mood to the audience. The visit to the exhibit of “Edward Weston” in the Museum of Fine Art must be a pleasurable trip for everyone. The first impression of the way museum sets the photographs shows people the consistency of the only two colors those photographs have, black and white. The exhibit is impressive not only because of the consistency effect created by all the photos as a whole with the museum's setting but also by those scenes that Edward Weston intentionally captured. He created the sense of serenity through capturing the stationary state of trees, houses, old couples and other everyday objects. Through the realistic style of his photos, Weston offers his interpretation of people's lives at the time. From bridges, factories and highways, Weston created a sense of movement and showed the development of the country. From the deserts, huge rocks and other magnificent natural scenes, he showed the vast territory and abundant resources of the country. Although all the photographs of Weston are old, black-and-white pictures, viewe rs still can feel the passion, the motivation, and even the dynamic state in the scenes he captured. All these reflections Weston brings to all spectators highlight his artistic and technical values in his works are literally no less beautiful than color photo today. As a person who knew he wanted to be a photographer from an early age and devoted his life to photography, Weston's photographs illustrate his lifelong passion and effort, and effectively interpret Whitman's poems in a visual context. Whitman observes daily life things around him and glorifies them in his poems to express his feeling. In “Song of Myself,” the ninth section begins with “the big door,(line 1)” “the dried grass(line 2)” and “the clear light(line 3).” The combinations of every line give the poem the effect of montage, making readers' minds turning continuously from one image to another when reading it, but readers still can feel all the scenes are in the same place. This poem shows Whitman's focus on things and objects and his poems are associative perceptive that every line is affiliated with the lines before and after it. The first sentence of the section nine of “Song of Myself” is “The big door of the country barn stand open and ready,(line 1)” as it brings readers into an imagination that they are standing in front of a barn, it continues to the second line “The dried grass of the harvest-time loads the slow-drawn wagon(line 2),” and shows them the atmosphere of harvest happiness. In the second stanza, he used his writing style – the anaphora in three out of four lines. The anaphora “I … , I … , I … ” he used in the second stanza shows his personal perspective of things he saw and also the sense of following one's will to live. Whitman shows freedom and spontaneity in his style from here. Take the last two lines in stanza two for example, where he writes, “I jump from the cross-beams and seize the clover and timothy, And roll head over heels and tangle my hair full of wisps(line 8).” When reading it, a sight of a big barn full of hay comes into readers eyes, providing them feeling of casual and freedom. In Weston's photographs, there is one photograph that brings people the similar feeling of casualness and freedom when reading Whitman's section nine of “Song Of Myself,” tTaken in 1941, the photograph is entitled “Contraband Bayou, Louisiana.” According to the introductory board on the museum wall, this photo, taken at Lake Charles, was one of the only three landscape photographs that Weston took in Louisiana. Charis Wilson described this picture as “stupefying” in Leaves of Grass that Weston captured reflections in the still water as well as the “feeling of density and heat in the air. (MFA sign)” The smooth surface of the lake creates the feeling of stillness and serenity in this photo. Although the scene in this photo is not set in a very wide place, so is the “barn”(line 1,section nine, “Song of Myself”) that Whitman wrote about in his poem, the poem and the photograph both bring spectators feelings of peace, freedom and serenity. Both Whitman's poem and Weston's photo can make audience's minds associated with a place away from restrictions and where they can breath freely to enjoy the fragrance of the soil and the nature. So in this aspects, Weston did help people understand Whitman's spirit of following one's inclination, feeling and mind to live, and the sense of casual and freedom in section nine of “Song Of Myself.” Whitman uses a lot of anaphoras in his poems which shows his strong subjective consciousness. In section ten of Song Of Myself, Whitman writes about the mountains and the wilds, the boatman and clam-diggers, the bride and her father, and a runaway slave. In the last stanza of this poem, Whitman uses anaphora such as the repetitions of the first words “And … , And … , And … , And … , …” These lines or sentences depict the “self” in this poem – what the “I” in this poem exactly does for the slave and emphasizing every detail. For instance, in this poem, the “first person” lets the slave into his house, brings him water and fills the tub for the slave to clean himself. Among the five “And,” the fourth “And,” different from the other four before and after it which are depicting the first person's actions, leads a sentence depicting the first person's personal thoughts, such as “And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes and his awkwardness (lines 37-38),” this shows Whitman's writing style of direct speaking tone and capturing details by the use of anaphora. Weston also captured details in his photograph. A second photo of Weston, also shot in 1941, was called “Yaqui Indian Church, Arizona.” the place Weston captured in this photograph was “the modest, fabric-draped church interior – with its mix of traditional religious icons and fanciful ornaments and streamers – speaks to the abject poverty of these displaced Mexican Indians and to the liveliness of their faith.” Dr. Edward H. S., an anthropologist at the University of Arizona suggested Weston's visit to the Yaqui reservation was also inspired by Walt Whitman's admiration for Native American culture (MFA sign). This photograph by Weston, which is much more different from the other photographs of his and is inclined to capture details of the scene while others' are depicting a big picture to create special atmosphere in each of them. In the picture, there are metal stars and little bells connected by strings hanging on the wall and ceiling and under them, there is a Jesus cross leaning against the wall. There are also two other pictures hanging on the wall, the big one shows a man carrying a cross on his shoulder while the small one composes two separate photographs of what look like Native Americans. Details can be clearly seen from this photo, this shows Weston's skill and intention in capturing details. This is similar to Whitman's usage of language by anaphora for the purpose of magnifying the details. Weston's detail capturing in this photo can remind people of Whitman's detail capturing in his poem, so Weston's photographs can also represent Whitman's attentive spirit in the poems through the way he captures details in his photographs. When Whitman's final edition of Leaves of Grass was published in 1892, it included nearly four hundred poems. As the amount of poems increased, its influence grew as well. Weston's Leaves of Grass represent his long period of traveling, photographing and understanding of Whitman's poems. Weston also showed his growing interest in the documenting American people, landscape, and culture that shared with Walt Whitman. The detail of Weston's photographs reflect the detail in Whitman's poems which evoke a similar feeling in the audience and illustrate the ideas and emotions in Whitman's poems. CITATIONS: “Leaves of Grass”, Collected poetry and pros was published in New York in 1982, publisher is librarian of New York. “Leaves of Grass”, Museum of Fine Art, 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA. Date of visit: 9/22/12 “Weston” (MFA exhibit)

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