Sunday

Nov. 17, 2002

Song of Myself (excerpt)

by Walt Whitman

SUNDAY, 17 NOVEMBER 2002
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Poem: Lines from "Song of Myself," by Walt Whitman.

48

I have said that the soul is not more than the body,
And I have said that the body is not more than the soul,
And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one's self is,
And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his
      own funeral drest in his shroud,
And I or you pocketless of a dime may purchase the pick of
      the earth,
And to glance with an eye or show a bean in its pod
      confounds the learning of all times,
And there is no trade or employment but the young man
      following it may become a hero,
And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the
      wheel'd universe,
And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand cool
      and composed before a million universes.

I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God
      not in the least,
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than
      myself.

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 dropt in the street, and every one is
      sign'd by God's name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that
      wheresoe'er I go,
Others will punctually come for ever and ever.

50

There is that in me-I do not know what it is-but I know
      it is in me.

Wrench'd and sweaty-calm and cool then my body becomes,
I sleep-I sleep long.

I do know know it-it is without name-it is a word unsaid,
It is not in any dictionary, utterance, symbol.

Something it swings on more than the earth I swing on,
To it the creation is the friend whose embracing awakes me.

Perhaps I might tell more Outlines! I plead for my brothers
      and sisters.

Do you see O my brothers and sisters?
It is not chaos or death-it is form, union, plan-it is eternal
      life-it is Happiness.

51

The past and present wilt-I have fill'd them, emptied them,
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.

Listener up there! What have you to confide to me?
Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening,
(Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a
      minute longer.)

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Who has done his day's work? who will soonest be through
      with his supper?
Who wishes to walk with me?

Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already
      too late?

52

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, complains
      of my gab and my loitering.

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the
      shadow'd wilds,
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh and eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

 









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