Quiet Eroticism

It turns out that my iPhone contains some interesting things that I have forgotten about, recently rediscovered with some digging.

One of the things I found is this (click “play” to hear):

O tan-faced prairie-boy!
Before you came to camp, came many a welcome gift;
Praises and presents came, and nourishing food—till at last, among the recruits,
You came, taciturn, with nothing to give—we but look’d on each other,
When lo! more than all the gifts of the world, you gave me.

– Walt Whitman

GettysburgWhitman’s poem recalls a moment when two young Civil War soldiers walked toward and passed each other at camp. One solider remembers the other as a “tan-faced prairie-boy,” with whom he shared a mutual glance as they “look’d on each other.” This was such a profound moment for the soldier that he considered it a gift.

For those of us who have experienced the subtleties of such moments, especially within the context of a repressed culture, Whitman’s poem manifests a dimension that an otherwise superficial reading of the poem might not warrant.

What I appreciate most about this performance is that the sexual undertones are expressed with a hushed quality, which reveals the interior, secret nature of latent homosexuality. The quiet intensity of such excitement and fear comes through in this recording, I believe. I am glad to have recorded it, and even gladder to have re-discovered it two years later.

Aside from this particular iPhone discovery, I also found some piano and organ improvisations that I have recorded over the past couple of years, and I will be sharing those in a future post.

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