American Poet, Journalist and Essayist
Walt Whitman, fully Walter "Walt" Whitman
American Poet, Journalist and Essayist
Vigil strange I kept on the field one night; when you my son and my comrade dropt at my side that day, one look I but gave which your dear eyes return'd with a look I shall never forget, one touch of your hand to mine O boy, reach'd up as you lay on the ground.
What is happiness, anyhow? Is this one of its hours - so impalpable - a mere breath, an evanescent tinge? I am not sure - so let me give myself the benefit of the doubt. Hast Thou, pellucid, in thy azure depths, medicine for case like mine.
The press of my foot to the earth springs a hundred affections, they scorn the best I can do to relate to them.
The universe is duly in order, everything in its place.
There is that indescribable freshness and unconsciousness about an illiterate person that humbles and mocks the power of the noblest expressive genius.
This is the female form, vapor, a divine nimbus exhales from it from head to foot, it attracts with fierce undeniable attraction, I am drawn by its breath as if I were no more than a helpless vapor, all falls aside but myself and it, books, art, religion, time, the visible and solid earth, and what was expected of heavaen or fear'd of hell, are now consumed, Mad filament, ungovernable shoots play out of it, the response likewise ungovernable.
To have great poets, there must be great audiences too.
Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves?
What is independence? Freedom from all laws or bonds except those of one's own being, control'd by the universal ones.
The greatest country, the richest country, is not that which has the most capitalists, monopolists, immense grabbings, vast fortunes, with its sad, sad soil of extreme, degrading, damning poverty, but the land in which there are the most homesteads, freeholds — where wealth does not show such contrasts high and low, where all men have enough — a modest living— and no man is made possessor beyond the sane and beautiful necessities.
The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it.
The untold want, by life and land ne'er granted, now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.
There is, in sanest hours, a consciousness, a thought that rises, independent, lifted out from all else, calm, like the stars, shining eternal. This is the thought of identity – yours for you, whoever you are, as mine for me. Miracle of miracles, beyond statement, most spiritual and vaguest of earth’s dreams, yet hardest basic fact, and only entrance to all facts. In such devout hours, in the midst of the significant wonders of heaven and earth, (significant only because of the Me in the center), creeds, conventions, fall away and become of no account before this simple idea. Under the luminousness of real vision, it alone takes possession, takes value. Like the shadowy dwarf in the fable, once liberated and look’d upon, it expands over the whole earth, and spreads to the roof of heaven.
This is thy hour o soul, thy free flight into the wordless, away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done, thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best, night, sleep, death and the stars.
To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle, every cubic inch of space is a miracle, every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same.
Was seiz'd by the spirit that trails in the lines underfoot, the rim, the sediment that stands for all the water and all the land of the globe. Fascinated, my eyes reverting from the south, dropt, to follow those slender windrows, chaff, straw, splinters of wood, weeds, and the sea-gluten, scum, scales from shining rocks, leaves of salt-lettuce, left by the tide.
The habit of giving only enhances the desire to give.
The purpose of democracy… is, through many transmigrations, and amid endless ridicules, arguments and ostensible failure, to illustrate, at all hazards, this doctrine or theory that man, properly train’d in sanest, highest freedom, may and must become a law, and series of laws, unto himself.
There shall be love between the poet and the man of demonstrable science. In the beauty of poems are the tuft and final applause of science.
This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body. . . . The poet shall not spend his time in unneeded work. He shall know that the ground is always ready ploughed and manured… others may not know it but he shall. He shall go directly to the creation. His trust shall master the trust of everything he touches . . . . and shall master all attachment.
To me, every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle.
We Americans have yet to really learn our own antecedents, and sort them, to unify them. They will be found ampler than has been supposed, and in widely different sources. Thus far, impress'd by New England writers and schoolmasters, we tacitly abandon ourselves to the notion that our United States has been fashion'd from the British Islands only, and essentially form a second England only — which is a very great mistake.