I’ve read poetry for most of my life. Since I was 12, probably, when I read Heaney’s “Death of a Naturalist” for the first time and recognised his boyish growth and love/hate of the loamy earth where he (and nearby, I) grew up.But always as I read, poems struck me as single notes – the best ones – hit me individually. They spoke to me through packaged line and verse and made me think about their story, message and song and how they said what they said to me. I loved them. I’m able to realise how I saw poetry before now because I’m reading Walt Whitman for the first time. He’s created a “then and now”. I’d often heard of people, and heard stories, of how an artist spoke to them in such a way that it felt like the artist WAS them. That the artist seemed to walk so closely beside them that they could almost predict what he/she would sing/write/draw/say next. That the artist made the person feel completely understood. I cannot fathom the depth of understanding, of belonging, that Walt Whitman had given me these last few days. It’s like he’s in my head – as if all the dreams, intuitions, wishes, loves, thoughts, lusts, desires, clarity, insight, inspiration, confusion, hope – and more! – that i’ve ever had, he’s had. And he’s telling me about them, one at a time. I suppose I feel like I’ve a new best friend. Only, for the first time, this friends been dead for 2 generations – and I didn’t think that was possible.