Warble for Lilac-Time / letterpress Walt Whitman broadside


My mom made sure we knew early on that poetry was extremely important if you wanted to have a variety of ways to express deep feelings. I've made it a part of my daily life, and for many years featured poems on my blog that meant a great deal to me and signified an important change of season, moment in life, memory, or feeling. Since I began letterpress printing, I've wanted to print poetry broadsides to share those poems I love most...and here's the first of what will be many more to come!

Walt Whitman's 1870 poem "Warble for Lilac-Time", later published in Leaves of Grass, is a beautiful ode to spring and the attendant natural beauty that is its hallmark.

• Letterpress printed by hand in our studio in Brooklyn, New York on a Vandercook No. 4-T press
• The lilac drawing is an original drawing of mine, printed in 2 tones of lilac purple, with a pale purple under printing and a deeper, pinkish purple overlay
• The text is set in Adobe Garamond Pro and printed in deep gray ink
• Printed on Reich Savoy 90 lb 100% cotton stock in soft white
• Edges are hand-torn, and the piece measures 11" wide x 14" high
• Printed in an edition of 50, each copy is signed and numbered in pencil along the bottom edge

Warble for Lilac-Time

• • •
Warble me now for joy of lilac-time, (returning in reminiscence,)
Sort me O tongue and lips for Nature’s sake, souvenirs of earliest summer,
Gather the welcome signs, (as children with pebbles or stringing shells,)
Put in April and May, the hylas croaking in the ponds, the elastic air,
Bees, butterflies, the sparrow with its simple notes,
Blue-bird and darting swallow, nor forget the high-hole flashing his golden wings,
The tranquil sunny haze, the clinging smoke, the vapor,
Shimmer of waters with fish in them, the cerulean above,
All that is jocund and sparkling, the brooks running,
The maple woods, the crisp February days and the sugar-making,
The robin where he hops, bright-eyed, brown-breasted,
With musical clear call at sunrise, and again at sunset,
Or flitting among the trees of the apple-orchard, building the nest of his mate,
The melted snow of March, the willow sending forth its yellow-green sprouts,
For spring-time is here! the summer is here! and what is this in it and from it?
Thou, soul, unloosen’d–the restlessness after I know not what;
Come, let us lag here no longer, let us be up and away!
O if one could but fly like a bird!
O to escape, to sail forth as in a ship!
To glide with thee O soul, o’er all, in all, as a ship o’er the waters;
Gathering these hints, the preludes, the blue sky, the grass, the morning drops of dew,
The lilac-scent, the bushes with dark green heart-shaped leaves,
Wood-violets, the little delicate pale blossoms called innocence,
Samples and sorts not for themselves alone, but for their atmosphere,
To grace the bush I love–to sing with the birds,
A warble for joy of lilac-time, returning in reminiscence.

from Leaves of Grass
by Walt Whitman

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