Nov. 16, 2002
Song of Myself (excerpt)
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Poem: Lines from "Song of Myself," by Walt Whitman.
A call in the midst of the crowd,
My own voice, orotund sweeping and final.
Come my children,
Come my boys and girls, my women, household and
This is the city and I am one of the citizens,
Whatever interests the rest interests me, politics, wars,
markets, newspapers, schools,
The mayor and councils, banks, tariffs, steamships, factories,
stocks, stores, real estate and personal estate.
I do not despise you priests, all time, the world over,
My faith is the greatest of faiths and the least of faiths,
Waiting responses from oracles, honoring the gods, saluting
Helping the llama or brahmin as he trims the lamps of the
Dancing yet through the streets in a phallic procession, rapt
and austere in the woods a gymnosophist,
Drinking mead from the skull-cup, to Shastas and Vedas
admirant, minding the Koran,
Accepting the Gospels, accepting him that was crucified,
knowing assuredly that he is divine,
Ranting and frothing in my insane crisis, or waiting dead-
like till my spirit arouses me,
Looking forth on pavement and land, or outside of pavement
Belonging to the winders of the circuit of circuits.
Down-hearted doubters dull and excluded,
Frivolous, sullen, moping, angry, affected, dishearten'd,
I know every one of you, I know the sea of torment, doubt,
despair and unbelief.
I know I have the best of time and space, and was never
measured and never will be measured.
I tramp a perpetual journey, (come listen all!)
My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut
from the woods,
No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair,
I have no chair, no church, no philosophy,
I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, exchange,
But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll,
My left hand hooking you round the waist,
My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the
Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,
You must travel it for yourself.
It is not far, it is within reach,
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did
Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.
Shoulder your duds dear son, and I will mine, and let us
Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go.
If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest the chuff of your
hand on my hip,
And in due time you shall repay the same service to me,
For after we start we shall never lie by again.
You are also asking me questions and I hear you,
I answer that I cannot answer, you must find out for yourself.
Sit a while dear son,
Here are biscuits to eat and here is milk to drink,
But as soon as you sleep and renew yourself in sweet
clothes, I kiss you with a good-by kiss and open the
gate for your egress hence.
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.
Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore,
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me,
shout, and laughingly dash with your hair.
I am the teacher of athletes,
He that by me spreads a wider breast than my own proves
the width of my own,
He most honors my style who learns under it to destroy the
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®