Lucille Clifton’s ‘Generations: A Memoir’

Clifford Thompson at Commonweal:

A passage in Walt Whitman’s seminal 1855 work, Leaves of Grass, reads, “And do not call the tortoise unworthy because she is not / something else, / And the mocking bird in the swamp never studied the / gamut, yet trills pretty well to me.” Another reads, “For me the man that is proud and feels how it stings to be / slighted, / For me the sweetheart and the old maid…for me / mothers and the mothers of mothers, / For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed tears, / For me children and the begetters of children.”

Lines from “Song of Myself,” the book’s longest poem, help separate the chapters of the African-American poet Lucille Clifton’s Generations: A Memoir. Perhaps, in part, that is because of three qualities of Whitman’s work, evident in the lines above: celebration of life, acknowledgment of its difficulties, and recognition of beauty wherever it is found.

more here.