Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892) was an American poet, essayist, and journalist, and his cultural and literary legacies are immense. Referred to often as the ‘father of free verse’, Whitman published and re-published several volumes of his poetry collection Leaves of Grass which represents an incalculably influential magnum opus. Poets including Pablo Neruda, Federico Garcia Lorca, Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan have voiced their reverence for the writer, and critic Harold Bloom contends that Leaves of Grass constitutes part of the “secular scripture of the United States”. In recent times his influence has permeated the commercial world as well as the literary, and quotes from his poems have formed taglines for advertising campaigns selling coffee, jeans, whisky, and iphones.
The poem ‘Halcyon Days’ can be found in Leaves of Grass and it was penned in the poet’s old age. In it, Whitman considers how ageing has brought him days of mellow comfort, suffused with serenity and contentment rather than disquiet and despair. The poem suggests that the unique happiness found in later life provides a completeness superior to the individual feelings of love and prosperity. It’s a hopeful piece, and it proposes that life’s halcyon days aren’t always to be found in the hazy years of youth.
That message, that one’s halcyon days are not prescriptively a glorious period in the past, is one that resonates with us as a brand. Life is a tapestry of interspersed special moments and all the pieces we create are made to mark and to manifest them, just as Whitman does by writing this poem. Our enamel boxes, jewellery and fine bone china products embody not only lovingly preserved ancient craft techniques but a moment in time. They encapsulate emotion, occasion and craft excellence. With all these facets working harmoniously together, giving or receiving our pieces enables our customers to experience a glimpse of the contentment and completeness that Whitman so wonderfully writes about.
Read the great poet’s piece below.
Not from successful love alone,
Nor wealth, nor honor'd middle age, nor victories of politics or war;
But as life wanes, and all the turbulent passions calm,
As gorgeous, vapory, silent hues cover the evening sky,
As softness, fulness, rest, suffuse the frame, like freshier, balmier air,
As the days take on a mellower light, and the apple at last hangs
really finish'd and indolent-ripe on the tree,
Then for the teeming quietest, happiest days of all!
The brooding and blissful halcyon days!