D.C. Through the Eyes of Others

In The Art of Travel Fall 2014, Books-2, Washington DC by Sidney1 Comment

A book has never taught me more about a city than “Literary Washington D.C.”. Within the book Patrick Allen and Alan Cheuse combined short stories from a multiple of famous authors, poets and writers who have some insight into D.C. Each story not only taught about D.C. and its surroundings but also the authors themselves.

Walt Whitman has written great poems but the more inspiring of his works were ones that could not be put into words. Mr. Whitman felt what he called “a divine attraction”[1] to helping others during the civil war. He spent time volunteering at hospitals and battlefields helping the injured. He assisted nurses in a battlefield in Virginia, which although isn’t quite Washington D.C. is very close by. In his short diary like entrances he describes his journey back to D.C. where he travelled with many injured in a steamer down the Potomac River. It reminded that D.C. has a rich history that doesn’t just involve politics. With the midterm elections last week it was particularly easy to get swept up into the politics that are so alive in D.C. Between reading Mr. Whitman extract and seeing Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial while on a walk I was reminded that D.C. has so much more to offer than I originally thought.

Rita Dove led an extremely accomplished life. She was a Presidential Scholar, a National Achievement Scholar and a Fulbright scholar. Ms. Dover was also the first African American and second women to ever receive the Pulitzer Prize for her poetry. Later in life she was a special consultant in poetry for the Library of Congress part of her many connections to Washington D.C. “Literary Washington D.C.” included a poem that appeared in “The Yellow House on the Corner.” I have always admired poems as people can interpret them in so many different ways. To me Ms. Dove poem is about a more negative aspect of D.C. The juxtaposition of items such as “Brontosaurus bones couched on Smithsonian velvet” and “A no man’s land, a capital askew, / a postcard framed by imported blossoms-“[2]. These lines, especially the later made me realize that D.C. is home to many foreign items that it showcases as part of D.C. People come from across the country and even world to see the famous museums and Cherry blossoms in the spring yet many of these artifacts have come from abroad.

What I loved most about my read was that I got to discover so many different aspects of D.C. that I hadn’t considered before. It was a great gateway into D.C. and the life of writers who have passed through there. I got to see D.C. through many people’s lives.


[1] Allen, Patrick. Literary Washington, D.C. San Antonio: Trinity UP, 2012. Print.

[2] Ibid


  1. Hey Sidney. It is very true that when most people think of Washington D.C, they think of the political importance it as the nation’s Capitol. I must admit that that is the strongest association I make with the city. When I was there, however, I came to a similar realisation as you; that it is a diverse city with so much to offer outside of the political realm. It is worth noting though, that the agglomeration of culture and international relics have much to do with the fact that it does indeed serve the function of the Capitol, even if these elements aren’t political in nature. It sounds like you are having a great time figuring that out and this sounds like an interesting read! Enjoy the rest of your semester!

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