American Poet, Journalist and Essayist
Walt Whitman, fully Walter "Walt" Whitman
American Poet, Journalist and Essayist
When I clutch'd your hand, it was not with terror; but suddenly, pouring about me here, on every side, and below there where the boys were drilling, and up the slopes they ran, and where tents are pitch'd, and wherever you see, south and south-east and south-west, over hills, across lowlands, and in the skirts of woods, and along the shores, in mire (now fill'd over,) came again, and suddenly raged, as eighty-five years a-gone, no mere parade receiv'd with applause of friends, but a battle, which I took part in myself—aye, long ago as it is, I took part in it, walking then this hill-top, this same ground.
Why should I wish to see God better than this day? I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then, in the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass; I find letters from God dropped in the street, and everyone is signed by God's name, and I leave them where they are, for I know that others will punctually come forever and ever.
Youth, large, lusty, loving -- Youth, full of grace, force, fascination. Do you know that Old Age may come after you with equal grace, force, fascination?
What is it that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the words I have read in my life.
What is it then between us? What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us? Whatever it is, it avails not—distance avails not, and place avails not.
What is life but an experiment? and mortality but an exercise? with reference to results beyond.
What is more subtle than this which ties me to the woman or man that looks in my face? Which fuses me into you now, and pours my meaning into you? We understand men do we not? What I promis'd without mentioning it, have you not accepted? What the study could not teach—what the preaching could not accomplish is accomplish'd, is it not?
What is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the words I have read in my life.
What shall I give? and which are my miracles? Realism is mine--my miracles--Take freely,take without end--I offer them to you wherever your feet can carry you or your eyes reach. Why! who makes much of a miracle? As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles, whether I walk the streets of Manhattan, or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky, or wade with naked feet along the beach, just in the edge of the water, or stand under trees in the woods, or talk by day with any one I love--or sleep in the bed at night with any one I love, or sit at the table at dinner with my mother, or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car, or watch honey-bees busy around the hive, of a summer forenoon, or animals feeding in the fields, or birds--or the wonderfulness of insects in the air, or the wonderfulness of the sundown--or of stars shining so quiet and bright, or the exquisite, delicate, thin curve of the new moon in spring; or whether I go among those I like best, and that like me best--mechanics, boatmen, farmers, or among the savants--or to the _soiree_--or to the opera. Or stand a long while looking at the movements of machinery, or behold children at their sports, or the admirable sight of the perfect old man, or the perfect old woman, or the sick in hospitals, or the dead carried to burial, or my own eyes and figure in the glass; obese, with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles, ohe whole referring--yet each distinct and in its place. To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle, every inch of space is a miracle, every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same, every cubic foot of the interior swarms with the same; every spear of grass--the frames, limbs, organs, of men and women, and all that concerns them, all these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles. To me the sea is a continual miracle; the fishes that swim--the rocks--the motion of the waves--the ships, with men in them, what stranger miracles are there?
What stays with you latest and deepest? of curious panics, Of hard-fought engagements or sieges tremendous what deepest remains?
What will be will be well — for what is is well, to take interest is well, and not to take interest is well.
When a university course convinces like a slumbering woman and child convince, when the minted gold in the vault smiles like the night-watchman's daughter, when warranty deeds loafe in chairs opposite and are my friendly companions, I intend to reach them my hand, and make as much of them as I do of men and women like you.
When he whom I love travels with me or sits a long while holding me by the hand… Then I am charged with untold and untellable wisdom, I am silent, I require nothing further, I cannot answer the question of appearances or that of identity beyond the grave, but I walk or sit indifferent, I am satisfied, he ahold of my hand has completely satisfied me.
The genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges, or churches, or parlors, nor even in its newspapers or inventors, but always most in the common people.
The poet judges not as a judge judges but as the sun falling around a helpless thing.
The strongest and sweetest songs yet remain to be sung.
There is no trade or employment but the young man following it may become a hero.
This face is a dog's snout sniffing for garbage, snakes nest in that mouth, I hear the sibilant threat.
To be in any form, what is that? (round and round we go, all of us, and ever come back thither,) if nothing lay more develop'd the quahung in it's callous shell were enough. Mine is no callous shell. I have instant conductors all over me whether I pass or stop, they seize every object and lead it harmlessly through me. I merely stir, press, feel with my fingers, and I am happy, to touch my person to someone else's is about as much as I can stand.
Uttering joyous leaves all its life without a friend a lover near, I know very well I could not.
What chemistry! That the winds are really not infectious, that this is no cheat, this transparent green-wash of the sea which is so amorous after me, that it is safe to allow it to lick my naked body all over with its tongues, that it will not endanger me with the fevers that have deposited themselves in it, that all is clean forever and forever,
The great city is that which has the greatest man or woman: if it be a few ragged huts, it is still the greatest city in the whole world.
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring; But O heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.
The sum of all known value and respect, I add up in you, whoever you are.