For the comrades and lovers eyes only


While some take a sadden viewpoint on Walt Whitman’s No Labor-Saving Machine, I see it as a positive reminder. Mr. Whitman (1819 – 1892) is primarily known for a collection of poems called Leaves of Grass.  I believe there are three things at work here; first, a speaker coming forward realizes his shortcomings and openly admits to them; second, the speaker openly admits what he is able to do and what is able to leave behind. And finally, labor versus the introduction of production (machines). Judicious about his legacy, Walt Whitman’s last contribution to the world would be “Leaves of Grass”, to which he had collected a lifetime of reflections about society and himself. Whitman would only to be rediscovered and restored to the American public by a group of editors set out to gather his “vibrating carols”, after his death. These “vibrating cords” included six very different editions of Leaves of Grass, and thousands of manuscripts, letters and journalistic pieces.

To me, this screams the saying “life is too short” Life is too much to worry about the wealth you will leave behind or the patriotic actions for your country; even the book and stories to which you will write. What matters, as identify by the author, are ones nearest and closest to him/her, friends and lovers. This was Walt Whitman’s and Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s literary success. The art of simply caring for the little things. Whitman’s repetition of the word “Nor” in a list fashion almost seem to clarity the truly unimportance of what follows. “Nor literary success, nor intellect”; taken from his own life, Whiteman’s education ended with elementary school and at times he was chronically poor, but in the end he managed to  work hard and soon he enjoyed the fruits of his labor, only to be rediscovered years after his own death.

The title “No labor-Saving Machine” also tells another story. Walt Whitman live in the time of exponential growth the United States. It was the time of Carnegie, Ford, Morgan, and Rockefeller; where man was being replaced by faster machines and newly innovative methods. Similarly to no labor, save the machines seems to relieve the sadden implications outlined by a few. The death of labor? The death of the American worker per se? I am skeptical.  Labor-saving machines, does reduces demand for some workers but increases demand for others, more specialize. However, for the author this may be different or difficult to understand.

All in all, Walt Whitman acknowledges that there is nothing to gain from major success nor of a person to showcase their talents or materialistic items; but at the core, to do only what you think you can do even, in death, to leave behind few carols (stories), vibrating (traveling through generations) through the air (history).



3 thoughts on “For the comrades and lovers eyes only

  1. I agree with the way the reader should view his work in a positive light, as opposed to a negative way. Instantly after reading how you illustrated that “life is too short”, I correlated it with the story “The Little Prince” because they share similar themes. Although the authors grew up during different time Era’s, it just goes to show that within Whitman’s poetry, and De-Saint’s novel’s certain ways of life, and inequalities tend to die hard in society.

  2. I really enjoy reading this post because you have provided readers a general overview of this article you are reading “No Labor-Saving Machine” which seems to be very important to people who haven’t read it before. More importantly, the general overview take up a proper amount of space and you give more room to the analysis on certain details.

    I like that you capture a pattern appearing in this article: “Whitman’s repetition of the word ‘Nor’ in a list fashion almost seem to clarity the truly unimportance of what follows..” You further refer to his background as a means to explain where does this series of “unimportance” statement come from. I enjoy reading this sort of detailed articulation and I wonder if you could keep going on and talk a little bit on how you interpret this pattern here. It is a good catch so that I as a reader is getting excited, but I am expecting a little bit more. I hope you find this comment helpful.

  3. Okay, I figured that there is no way for a comment poster to edit her comment so I will just post an adjustment to a part of my previous comment here: it should be “the general overview takes up” not “the general overview take up”. I made a mistake of subject and subject-verb agreement.

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