American Poet, Journalist and Essayist
Walt Whitman, fully Walter "Walt" Whitman
American Poet, Journalist and Essayist
My ties and ballasts leave me - I travel - I sail - My elbows rest in the sea-gaps. I skirt the sierras. My palms cover continents - I am afoot with my vision.
O Earth, that hast no voice, confide to me a voice! O harvest of my lands! O boundless summer growths! O lavish, brown, parturient earth! O infinite, teeming womb! A verse to seek, to see, to narrate thee.
O to have my life henceforth a poem of new joys! To dance, clap hands, exult, shout, skip, leap, roll on, float on, to be a sailor of the world, bound for all ports, a ship itself, (see indeed these sails I spread to the sun and air,) a swift and swelling ship, full of rich words -- full of joys.
On the Meaning of life: Answer. That you are here—that life exists and identity, that the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
Peace is always beautiful, The myth of heaven indicates peace and night.
Seasons pursuing each other the indescribable crowd is gathered, it is the fourth of Seventh-month, (what salutes of cannon and small arms!)
Storming, enjoying, planning, loving, cautioning, backing and filling, appearing and disappearing, I tread day and night such roads.
The carpenter dresses his plank--the tongue of his fore-plane whistles its wild ascending lisp.
Long and long has the grass been growing, long and long has the rain been falling, long has the globe been rolling round.
O how can it be that the ground itself does not sicken? How can you be alive you growths of spring? How can you furnish health you blood of herbs, roots, orchards, grain? Are they not continually putting distemper'd corpses within you? Is not every continent work'd over and over with sour dead?
O western orb sailing the heaven, now I know what you must have meant as a month since I walked, as I walked in silence the transparent shadowy night,
Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city of this earth, ever afterward resumes its liberty.
Perhaps the efforts of the true poets, founders, religions, literatures, all ages, have been, and ever will be, our time and times to come, essentially the same - to bring people back from their present strayings and sickly abstractions, to the costless, average, divine, original concrete.
Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and tag of me is a miracle.
Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?
The city fireman-the fire that suddenly bursts forth in the close-pack'd square, the arriving engines, the hoarse shouts, the nimble stepping and daring, the strong command through the fire-trumpets, the falling in line, the rise and fall of the arms forcing the water, the slender, spasmic, blue-white jets-the bringing to bear of the hooks and ladders, and their execution, the crash and cut away of connecting wood-work, or through floors, if the fire smolders under them, the crowd with their lit faces, watching-the glare and dense shadows.
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself, ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them. And you O my soul where you stand, surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space, ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them, till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold, till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O, my soul.
Long enough have you dream'd contemptible dreams, now I wash the gum from your eyes, you must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life.
Never before did I get so close to Nature; never before did she come so close to me.... Nature was naked, and I was also.... Sweet, sane, still Nakedness in Nature! - ah if poor, sick, prurient humanity in cities might really know you once more! Is not nakedness the indecent? No, not inherently. It is your thought, your sophistication, your fear, your respectability, that is indecent. There come moods when these clothes of ours are not only too irksome to wear, but are themselves indecent. Perhaps indeed he or she to whom the free exhilarating ecstasy of nakedness in Nature has never been eligible (and how many thousands there are!) has not really known what purity is - nor what faith or art or health really is.
O I see what I sought to escape, confronting, reversing my cries, I see my own soul trampling down what it ask'd for.
O you singer, solitary, singing by yourself—projecting me; O solitary me, listening—nevermore shall I cease perpetuating you; never more shall I escape, never more the reverberations, never more the cries of unsatisfied love be absent from me, never again leave me to be the peaceful child I was before what there, in the night, by the sea, under the yellow and sagging moon, the messenger there arous’d—the fire, the sweet hell within, the unknown want, the destiny of me.
Once I passed through a populous city imprinting my brain for future use with its shows, architecture, customs, traditions, yet now of all that city I remember only a woman I casually met there who detained me for love of me, day by day and night by night we were together—all else has long been forgotten by me, I remember I say only that woman who passionately clung to me, again we wander, we love, we separate again, again she holds me by the hand, I must not go, I see her close beside me with silent lips sad and tremulous.
Pour down your warmth, great sun! While we bask, we two together. Two together! Winds blow south, or winds blow north, day come white, or night come black, home, or rivers and mountains from home, singing all time, minding no time, while we two keep together.