American Poet, Journalist and Essayist
Walt Whitman, fully Walter "Walt" Whitman
American Poet, Journalist and Essayist
The secret of it all is to write in the gush, the throb, the flood, of the moment – to put things down without deliberation – without worrying about their style – without waiting for a fit time or place. I always worked that way. I took the first scrap of paper, the first doorstep, the first desk, and wrote – wrote, wrote…By writing at the instant the very heartbeat of life is caught.
Then to the third—a face nor child nor old, very calm, as of beautiful yellow-white ivory, young man I think I know you—I think this face is the face of the Christ himself, dead and divine and brother of all, and here again he lies.
These demanding to have them, (tired with ceaseless excitement, and rack'd by the war-strife,) these to procure incessantly asking, rising in cries from my heart, while yet incessantly asking still I adhere to my city, day upon day and year upon year O city, walking your streets, where you hold me enchain'd a certain time refusing to give me up,
Three forms I see on stretchers lying, brought out there untended lying, over each the blanket spread, ample brownish woolen blanket, gray and heavy blanket, folding, covering all.
Turbulent, fleshy, sensual, eating, drinking and breeding, no sentimentalist, no stander above men and women or apart from them, no more modest than immodest. Unscrew the locks from the doors! Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs! Whoever degrades another degrades me, and whatever is done or said returns at last to me. Through me the afflatus surging and surging, through me the current and index.
The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book.
The new recruits, even boys—the old men show them how to wear their accoutrements—they buckle the straps carefully; outdoors arming—indoors arming—the flash of the musket-barrels; the white tents cluster in camps—the arm'd sentries around—the sunrise cannon, and again at sunset; arm'd regiments arrive every day, pass through the city, and embark from the wharves; (How good they look, as they tramp down to the river, sweaty, with their guns on their shoulders! How I love them! how I could hug them, with their brown faces, and their clothes and knapsacks cover'd with dust!) The blood of the city up—arm'd! arm'd! the cry everywhere; the flags flung out from the steeples of churches, and from all the public buildings and stores; the tearful parting—the mother kisses her son—the son kisses his mother; (Loth is the mother to part—yet not a word does she speak to detain him.)
The shallow consider liberty a release from all law, from every constraint. The wise man sees in it, on the contrary, the potent Law of Laws, namely, the fusion and combination of the conscious will, or partial individual law, with those universal, eternal, unconscious ones which run through all Time, pervade history, prove immortality, give moral purpose to the entire objective world, and the last dignity to human life.
There can be no theory of any account unless it corroborate with the theory of the earth.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition, they do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins, they do not make me sick discussing their duty to God, not one is dissatisfied—not one is demented with the mania of owning things, not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago, not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth.
Through the ample open door of the peaceful country barn, A sun-lit pasture field, with cattle and horses feeding; And haze, and vista, and the far horizon, fading away.
Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore, twenty-eight young men and all so friendly.
We were together. I forget the rest.
The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first; Be not discouraged-- keep on-- there are divine things, well envelop'd; I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.
The new rule shall rule as the soul rules, and as the love and justice and equality that are in the soul rule.
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage is closed and done. From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won. Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells; but I with mournful tread walk the deck my captain lies, fallen cold and dead.
There is an indescribable freshness and unconsciousness about an illiterate person that humbles and mocks the power of the noblest expressive genius.
Think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain'd, I stand and look at them long and long. They do not sweat and whine about their condition, they do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins, they do not make me sick discussing their duty to God, not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things, not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago, not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth. So they show their relations to me and I accept them, they bring me tokens of myself, they evince them plainly in their possession. I wonder where they get those tokens, did I pass that way huge times ago and negligently drop them?
Thunder on! Stride on! Democracy. Strike with vengeful strokes.
Two feathered guests from Alabama, two together, and their nest, and four light-green eggs spotted with brown, and every day the he-bird to and fro near at hand, and every day the she-bird crouched on her nest, silent, with bright eyes, and every day I, a curious boy, never too close, never disturbing them, cautiously peering, absorbing, translating.
What a devil art thou, Poverty! How many desires -- how many aspirations after goodness and truth -- how many noble thoughts, loving wishes toward our fellows, beautiful imaginings thou hast crushed under thy heel, without remorse or pause!
The earth, that is sufficient, I do not want the constellations any nearer, I know they are very well where they are, I know they suffice for those who belong to them
The Past -- the dark unfathomed retrospect! The teeming gulf --the sleepers and the shadows! The past! the infinite greatness of the past! For what is the present after all but a growth out of the past?