Friday, February 10, 2017

A Song to Walt Whitman, Doctor Who, and the Open Road: Allons!



allons



EXCLAMATION

  • ‘Let's go’; (also) ‘come now’, ‘there you are’ (used by way of encouragement, or as a general expression of acceptance, resignation, etc.).

Origin

Mid 17th century; earliest use found in George Tooke (1595–1675), army officer and writer. From French allons, 1st person plural imperative of aller to go from post-classical Latin alare, ultimately a variant (with loss of the unstressed medial -u- and subsequent assimilation of consonants, although the exact phonological history is unclear) of classical Latin ambulāre to walk.
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"Allons-y? It means, Let's go!"
--The Tenth Doctor Who



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"Allons! to that which is endless as it was beginningless....” 
--Walt Whitman

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Perhaps you have seen the Volvo commercial which begins with the phrase, "Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road." The stunningly gorgeous commercial imagines a modern day Walt Whitman, voiced by actor Josh Brolin, wandering the wonderous world in his S90 luxury sedan.  

Anyway, I heard Josh Brolin's melodic voice and those words really spoke to me. A quick search landed me on the full version of Walt Whitman's "Song of the Open Road," a poem from his 1856 collection, Leaves of Grass.

The original poem is 328 lines in 15 sections. I quickly realized that Josh Brolin reads but a few lines from the poem and some are presented out of order. I also noticed that the original contains many instances of the word, Allons, all edited out of the Volvo ad. Being a Doctor Who fan, my appreciation for the original Walt Whitman text deepened. 

The TV spot is superb, but you really must invest the 2 minutes and 47 seconds it'll take you to watch the extended version. This longform video is part of Volvo's "Our Idea of Luxury" series featuring artful, cryptic, non-linear story-telling. I defy anyone to watch it only once. It took me a couple of viewings before I noticed the explicit reference to Walt Whitman. Can you spot it?



I love the stirring poetry of Walt Whitman, the campy fun of Doctor Who, and the endless appeal of the open road. Volvo makes a nice vehicle, but I'll take my Road King. 

Song of the Open Road

Related Poem Content Details

1 
Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, 
Healthy, free, the world before me, 
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose. 

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune, 
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing, 

Strong and content I travel the open road. 

2 
You road I enter upon and look around, I believe you are not all that is here, 
I believe that much unseen is also here. 

6
Here is realization, 
Here is a man tallied—he realizes here what he has in him, 
The past, the future, majesty, love—if they are vacant of you, you are vacant of them. 

5 
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me. 
I inhale great draughts of space, 
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine. 

I am larger, better than I thought, 
I did not know I held so much goodness. 

All seems beautiful to me.

9 
Allons! whoever you are come travel with me! 
Traveling with me you find what never tires. 

The earth never tires, 
The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first, Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first, 
Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well envelop’d, 
I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell. 

Allons! we must not stop here, 
However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us we are permitted to receive it but a little while. 

13 
Allons! to that which is endless as it was beginningless, 

To gather the minds of men out of their brains as you encounter them, to gather the love out of their hearts, 
To take your lovers on the road with you, for all that you leave them behind you, 
To know the universe itself as a road, as many roads, as roads for traveling souls. 

You must not stay sleeping and dallying there in the house, though you built it, or though it has been built for you. 

15 
Allons! the road is before us!