Settling into Stanzas: Angler Mountain Trail No. 29 and Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”
August 18, 2016
The pure contralto sings in the organ loft,
The carpenter dresses his plank, the tongue of his foreplane
whistles its wild ascending lisp,
The married and unmarried children ride home to their
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The pilot seizes the king-pin, he heaves down with a strong
The mate stands braced in the whale-boat, lance and harpoon
The duck-shooter walks by silent and cautious stretches,
The deacons are ordain'd with cross'd hands at the altar,
The spinning-girl retreats and advances to the hum of the big
The farmer stops by the bars as he walks on a First-day loafe
and looks at the oats and rye,
The city sleeps and the country sleeps,
The living sleep for their time, the dead sleep for their time,
The old husband sleeps by his wife and the young husband
sleeps by his wife;
And these tend inward to me, and I tend outward to them,
And such as it is to be of these more or less I am,
And of these one and all I weave the song of myself.
Life in America, depicted by one of America's greatest poets. Walt Whitman illustrates nineteenth-century American living with such simple grace that his images are still accessible over 150 years later.
Printed above is a small portion of Walt Whitman's greater work, "Song of Myself," which is itself a small portion of Whitman's masterwork, "Leaves of Grass."
Whitman wrote "Song of Myself" in catalogue form, where each line contains an illustration: the contralto singing, the duck-shooter walking, the spinning-girl retreating and advancing. Strung together, one after another, the effect is similar to reading a shopping catalogue.
Each illustration is plain: a person performing some action. A subject and a verb. Whitman doesn't saddle his illustrations with many 10-dollar words.
The beauty of "Song of Myself" comes as Whitman weaves the self into the scene. "Inward to me and … outward to them," Whitman weaves "I" into the larger fabric of society.
The hills and draws of Angler Mountain Trail No. 29 will serve as a beautiful fabric to weave yourself into on your next hike in Summit County.
To access Angler Mountain Trail No. 29, take exit 205 off of Interstate 70 at Silverthorne. Travel north on Highway 9 for a couple of miles, past Target, to Bald Eagle Road. Turn right onto Bald Eagle Road and cross the bridge. The parking lot and trailhead are a few hundred meters further ahead on the right.
Angler Mountain Trail No. 29 has something for everyone. It is a moderately strenuous hike, complete with open meadows and lodgepole pine, aspen groves and running brooks.
About 2.5 miles into the hike, the trail intersects Ptarmigan Trail No. 35. Here, you can access the rest of the Ptarmigan Wilderness.
If you turn left at the junction and travel another mile or so, you will be well rewarded with a beautiful vista. There is a fallen tree, stripped of its bark and carved smooth for a comfortable sitting surface. The bench doesn't have a back, but does offer pristine views of the Blue River Valley. From the vista, a long panorama stretches from the Dillon Reservoir on the left (to the south) all the way to Red Mountain on the right (to the north). Below the skyline rests the Blue River and its various tributaries and wetlands.
The buildings, roads and homes that make up the town of Silverthorne are also visible. Even though Whitman wrote "Song of Myself" in 1855, many of the images in his catalogue are still relevant a century-and-a-half later.
When you have a chance, pause and enjoy the wide views of Angler Mountain Trail No. 29 and the poetry of Walt Whitman. "Song of Myself" is available in the public domain, so print off a copy beforehand and bring it with you as you advance and retreat into the Ptarmigan Wilderness.
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