Calamus

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Acorus calamus

"Calamus" is a group of poems in Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. They are about gay love or, in Whitman-speak, "the manly love of comrades". The Calamus poems have their seeds in a group of poems called "Live Oak with Moss". Whitman wrote these poems before or in the spring of 1859. They were printed with other poems in the 1860 third edition of Leaves of Grass to form a group of 45 poems about gay love. The "Live Oak" poems seem to be about relations between the Whitman and a male lover. Whitman sees the love of comrades as the backbone of all nations, the root of religious sentiments, the source of personal anguish and joy, and the answer to the big questions of life. The Calamus (Acorus calamus, or Sweet Flag) root is shaped like a phallus and has connections with a mythological story about gay lovers.

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