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On "A Glimpse"

James Dougherty

At some point, [Whitman] penciled a note on the script of the unpublished [poem] "Pictures": "Break all this into several pictures." That is, break open the casque of consciousness in which the images floated . . . and declare its single perceptions to be poems. Several poems from the Calamus sequence, like . . . "A Glimpse," are moving toward independence from the sponsoring mind. . . . In such poems, the order of observation implies a statement of sorts. . . . "A Glimpse" advances from outside to inside, from noisy barroom to quiet nook, from coarse camaraderie to silent intimacy.

from Walt Whitman and the Citizen’s Eye (Louisiana State UP, 1993), 73-74.

Michael Moon

[T]he (male) speaker of ["A Glimpse"] feels perfectly at home in the atmosphere of charged male sexuality (drinking, swearing, and "smutty jest"), although (one might say) he and his lover inhabit this sexually charged atmosphere differently from the way their fellows do. Hence the split subjectivity of this text: what is disencrypted in this lyric is what is invisible to the fleeting passerby and even to the denizens of the tavern as they "com[e] and go[ ]": the strong current of erotic intersubjectivity shared by the male couple who sit quietly together for "a long while."

from Disseminating Whitman (Harvard UP, 1991), 161.

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