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Sound Your Barbaric YAWP



I sound my barbaric YAWP over the roofs of the world.  ~Walt Whitman-Leaves of Grass

Your “barbaric yawp” is like your battle cry…how you would announce yourself to the world and let them know who you are.  Reflect your inner self…loudly, explosively and truthfully!

Again, Bluk.

That’s how I feel right now when I think about Barbaric YAWPs.

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?*

That you are here…that life exists…that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?

What will your verse be??

In 1989, the movie, Dead Poet’s Society came out. It starred Robin Williams and it was, and is, powerful. Seizing the day – making the most of your time before you die – about being unique and following your passions and being unafraid to stand up for those things–this is what John Keating, an English Professor played by Williams, illustrates to his students through some pretty amazing teaching.

My last year of high school blurs in and out with the movie. We studied it in my AP English class and I remember standing on our desks on our last day of school reciting Captain! Oh Captain! to our revered teacher as a way of honoring her and saying good-bye, just like they did in Dead Poet’s Society. We studied the themes and the poets, Shakespeare, Frost, Tennyson, Lord Byron, Whitman, so intensely that it has given a subtext to my life ever since.

Like Carpe Diem. Seize the Day.

And finding your damn verse.

John Keating: Now we all have a great need for acceptance, but you must trust that your beliefs are unique, your own, even though others may think them odd or unpopular, even though the herd may go,
[imitating a goat]
John Keating: “that’s baaaaad.” Robert Frost said, Two roads diverged in the wood and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Was he dragging kids on that less traveled by road??

Neil: [quoting Henry David Thoreau] “I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”
Dalton: I’ll second that.
Neil: “To put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived.”

And finally, back to the Barbaric YAWP, how are reflecting your inner self to world? With explosive truth?

Oh my Gosh are you KIDDING ME?

Could you stress me out even more???

I’m not doing squat diddly on any of these. I’m raising kids and putting endless laundry away with a few breaks for writing and determining if your paint color should be more cream or grey toned.

PLEASE do not tell me about the epic amazingness of my selfless ultimate role as Mother because I will spit in your eye. Sorry. You deserved to be warned.

My husband could maybe fill this role better. I want to kick and scream because I don’t get my way and then he asks me if I do realize that I am the Parent?


I had a big trip planned and it’s not happening for various reasons.  Put it this way–the Cons sucked all the marrow out of the Pros. Put that in your pipe Thoreau.

And I’m disappointed.

I’m so disappointed.

The whole sour grapes thing is not really about a cancelled trip–it was just a straw falling off the camel.

It was just one more thing or one less thing or another thing. It was just another teaching moment that I did not want taught.

Because sometimes I just want to be Me. And I want to sound my Barbaric YAWP only it is lost amongst the lists, and responsibilities, and laundry.  And I don’t want hard, I want easy. And I don’t want distress in order to grow.

Which naturally brings me to lobsters.

Apparently lobsters’s shells don’t grow. So when the lobster starts to grow it has to shed it’s own shell and essentially lay in the fetal position and feel really vulnerable in between shells and go through discomfort.

I wonder if the catalyst is like lobster kids not listening and no matter how hard the lobster tries there is always sand everywhere and the stupid Red Lobster on the 11pm news.

Back to discomfort–so said lobster needs to grow–goes through discomfort–sheds shell–feels vulnerable–than grows brand new one and is 10% bigger and better, until the next cycle.

So if “barbaric yawp” is like your battle cry…and it represents how to announce yourself to the world and let them know who you are–reflecting your inner self…loudly, explosively and truthfully…

…Did the lobster let out a Barbaric YAWP after it was finished?


*Dead Poet’s Society

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