I Hear America Singing

I’ve been re-reading Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (the 1891 edition). Now don’t think I’ve suddenly become a cultured intellectual. Don’t worry, if you continue reading I’ll prove my pedestrian self. But Leaves of Grass is a wonderful orchestration of words. Whitman paints with the language. The poems are about an earthy passion, lustful and natural. Simultaneously, I began to consider growing a beard.

Now for a complete left turn, to make matters worse, I began to think about the Hilltop Coca Cola commercial. This commercial was created in 1971 by McCann-Erikson. The world was in the midst of the Vietnam War, and conflicts in India and the Middle East. The year before, 4 students were shot by the National Guard at Kent State. While the goal was to sell Coca-Cola, the commercial’s message was about unification and peace. The lyrics to the theme song included these lines:

I'd like to buy the world a home and furnish it with love, Grow apple trees and honeybees, and snow white turtledoves. I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.

These may not match Whitman’s eloquent language, but they share the same sentiment: Have you ever loved the body of a woman? Have you ever loved the body of a man? Do you not see that these are exactly the same to all in all nations and times all over the earth? 

Yes, my mind works in odd ways connecting ideas that are probably best unconnected. And if you are Walt Whitman fan, you are probably revolted by the audacity to compare Leaves of Grass to a Coca-Cola commercial. But there you are.

Walt Whitman