Crystal Spring: Infused with Poetry

I love poetry. And I especially love Walt Whitman.  He wrote that “every hour of light and dark is a miracle.”   I got a sense of that myself when I ventured into an unlikely little park in the middle of suburbia.

Crystal Spring Park in Laurel Springs, New Jersey:

 

crystal spring

What I now know:  Walt Whitman spent his summers between 1876 and 1884 in a farmhouse near Crystal Spring, a low magnitude natural spring at the eastern end of Laurel Lake in Laurel Springs,  Camden County New Jersey. Whitman was convalescing at the time and is said to have visited the spot often to drink and bathe there as he regarded the waters to be healing in nature. The spring is still active today, trickling gently downhill into Laurel Lake.

Much of Whitman’s Specimen Days and part of Leaves of Grass (which he added to throughout his life) were written at this location. A boardwalk trail in the park features quotes from his Nature-notes of 1887-81 for Specimen Days.

brook quote

— All photographs by Michelle Tennison

To say that coming upon these words in the woods warmed my heart would be an understatement. It was sunrise when I arrived, and there was a dream-like quality to my experience here, like I had entered an alternate universe where poetry was understood to be integral to our humanity, because it is.

 

It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.

          From Asphodel, That Greeny Flower,  William Carlos Williams

 

Let us remember … that in the end we go to poetry for one reason, so that we might more fully inhabit our lives and the world in which we live them, and that if we more fully inhabit these things, we might be less apt to destroy both.
          — Christian Wiman, former editor of Poetry magazine
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Thank you to Crystal Spring and to the state of New Jersey for holding space for Walt Whitman, for poetry, and for hope.
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The Brilliant Madness of e.e. cummings

I’ve long been fascinated by the strange, multidimensional poetics of e.e. cummings. His work seems clearly to echo movements in the visual arts, and in fact he was also a painter whose early influences included Cubism, Dada, and Surrealism.

 

Sometimes amid the collage of neologisms and images he holds out until the final line to unveil a poem:

 

until No least
leaf almost stirs

as never (in
againless depths

of silence) and
forever touch
or until she
and he become

(on tiptoe at
the very quick
of nowhere) we
— While one thrush sings

 

–ee cummings, 95 Poems