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Walt Whitman, fully Walter "Walt" Whitman

(1819 - 1892)


American Poet, Journalist and Essayist

A child said ‘What is the grass?’ fetching it to me with full hands; how could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he. I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven. Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord, a scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt, bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose? Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the vegetation. Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic, and it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones, growing among black folks as among white, Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same. And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves. Tenderly will I use you curling grass, it may be you transpire from the breasts of young men, it may be if I had known them I would have loved them, it may be you are from old people, or from offspring taken soon out of their mothers' laps, and here you are the mothers' laps. This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers, darker than the colorless beards of old men, dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths. O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues, and I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing... What do you think has become of the young and old men? And what do you think has become of the women and children? They are alive and well somewhere, the smallest sprout shows there is really no death, and if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it, and ceas'd the moment life appear'd. All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses, and to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
A few days more, and they landed—and then the battle. Twenty thousand were brought against us, a veteran force, furnish'd with good artillery.
A glimpse through an interstice caught, of a crowd of workmen and drivers in a barroom around the stove late of a winter night, and I unremarked seated in a corner, of a youth who loves me and whom i love, silently approaching and seating himself near, that he may hold me by the hand, a long while amid the noises of coming and going, of drinking and oath and smutty jest, there we two, content, happy in being together, speaking little, perhaps not a word.
A great city is that which has the greatest men and women, if it be a few ragged huts it is still the greatest city in the whole world.
A line in long array, where they wind betwixt green islands; they take a serpentine course—their arms flash in the sun—hark to the musical clank.
A man is a great thing upon the earth and through eternity; but every jot of the greatness of man is unfolded out of woman.
A man, yet by these tears a little boy again, throwing myself on the sand, confronting the waves, I, chanter of pains and joys, uniter of here and hereafter, taking all hints to use them, but swiftly leaping beyond them, a reminiscence sing.
A million people—manners free and superb— open voices—hospitality—the most courageous and friendly young men; the free city! no slaves! no owners of slaves! The beautiful city! the city of hurried and sparkling waters! The city of spires and masts! The city nested in bays! my city! The city of such women, I am mad to be with them! I will return after death to be with them! The city of such young men, I swear I cannot live happy, without I often go talk, walk, eat, drink, sleep, with them!
A morning glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.
A motionless still balance in the air, then parting, talons loosing, upward again on slow-firm pinions slanting, their separate diverse flight, She hers, he his, pursuing.