Waltzing with Whitman
Hello Luminous Beings! I am officially bolstered and …boostered. Such a funny term, ‘booster’. Makes it sound like I’m uplifting myself. I adore Anita Moorjani! She is a writer and author of SENSITIVE IS THE NEW STRONG. She is also an empath. She says that when we lift ourselves up, we lift up orhers—the collective. I know there are skeptics but her teachings feel good to me so I’m going with it. For months, I’ve been practicing self-love. I used to pour so much love out but wasn’t nourishing myself enough. I suspect some of you may be the same. I’m an over giver by nature. I’ve realized all this dancing with shadows is fun and yet work sometimes. Thé trying to plan when Universe/God is laughing at my moves. I’ve learned there are so many kinds of love and what a joy to create what I crave for myself and then lift others. It’s a kind of cosmic Persian Tapestry or is it the Bayeux Tapestry… heehee…
Walt Whitman, posing with a butterfly in 1883.Credit...via The Grolier Club.
I believe we are all connected in ways like constellations or galaxies or Charlotte’s Web. You do you, of course. I’m nobody’s influencer. I love you just as you are where you are. I will sister you as you find your way. And poetry, of course. Election Day, November, 1884
Walt Whitman - 1819-1892
If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show,
'Twould not be you, Niagara—nor you, ye limitless prairies—nor your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,
Nor you, Yosemite—nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic geyser-loops ascending to the skies, appearing and disappearing,
Nor Oregon's white cones—nor Huron's belt of mighty lakes—nor Mississippi's stream:
—This seething hemisphere's humanity, as now, I'd name—the still small voice vibrating—America's choosing day,
(The heart of it not in the chosen—the act itself the main, the quadriennial choosing,)
The stretch of North and South arous'd—sea-board and inland—Texas to Maine—the Prairie States—Vermont, Virginia, California,
The final ballot-shower from East to West—the paradox and conflict,
The countless snow-flakes falling—(a swordless conflict,
Yet more than all Rome's wars of old, or modern Napoleon's:) the peaceful choice of all,
Or good or ill humanity—welcoming the darker odds, the dross:
—Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify—while the heart pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,
Swell'd Washington's, Jefferson's, Lincoln's sails.
This poem is in the public domain.
Born on May 31, 1819, Walt Whitman is the author of Leaves of Grass and, along with Emily Dickinson, is considered one of the architects of a uniquely American poetic voice.
About Walt Whitman >
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More by Walt Whitman
To Think of Time
To think of time—of all that retrospection!
To think of to-day, and the ages continued henceforward!
Have you guess'd you yourself would not continue?
Have you dreaded these earth-beetles?
Have you fear'd the future would be nothing to you?
Is to-day nothing? Is the beginningless past nothing?
If the future is nothing, they are just as surely nothing.
To think that the sun rose in the east! that men and women
were flexible, real, alive! that everything was alive!
To think that you and I did not see, feel, think, nor bear our
To think that we are now here, and bear our part!
Not a day passes—not a minute or second, without an
Not a day passes—not a minute or second, without a corpse!
The dull nights go over, and the dull days also,
The soreness of lying so much in bed goes over,
The physician, after long putting off, gives the silent and terrible
look for an answer,
The children come hurried and weeping, and the brothers and sisters
are sent for,
Medicines stand unused on the shelf—(the camphor-smell has
long pervaded the rooms,)
The faithful hand of the living does not desert the hand of the dying,
The twitching lips press lightly on the forehead of the dying,
The breath ceases, and the pulse of the heart ceases,
The corpse stretches on the bed, and the living look upon it,
It is palpable as the living are palpable.
The living look upon the corpse with their eye-sight,
But without eye-sight lingers a different living, and looks curiously
on the corpse.
To think the thought of Death, merged in the thought of materials!
To think that the rivers will flow, and the snow fall, and fruits ripen,
and act upon others as upon us now—yet not act upon us!
To think of all these wonders of city and country, and others taking
great interest in them—and we taking no interest in them!
To think how eager we are in building our houses!
To think others shall be just as eager, and we quite indifferent!
(I see one building the house that serves him a few years, or seventy
or eighty years at most,
I see one building the house that serves him longer than that.)
Slow-moving and black lines creep over the whole earth—they never
cease—they are the burial lines,
He that was President was buried, and he that is now President shall
surely be buried.
A reminiscence of the vulgar fate,
A frequent sample of the life and death of workmen,
Each after his kind:
Cold dash of waves at the ferry-wharf—posh and ice in the river,
half-frozen mud in the streets, a gray, discouraged sky overhead,
the short, last daylight of Twelfth-month,
A hearse and stages—other vehicles give place—the funeral
of an old Broadway stage-driver, the cortege mostly drivers.
Steady the trot to the cemetery, duly rattles the death-bell, the gate
is pass'd, the new-dug grave is halted at, the living alight, the
The coffin is pass'd out, lower'd and settled, the whip is laid on the
coffin, the earth is swiftly shovel'd in,
The mound above is flatted with the spades—silence,
A minute—no one moves or speaks—it is done,
He is decently put away—is there anything more?
He was a good fellow, free-mouth'd, quick-temper'd, not bad-looking,
able to take his own part, witty, sensitive to a slight, ready with
life or death for a friend, fond of women, gambled, ate hearty,
drank hearty, had known what it was to be flush, grew low-spirited
toward the last, sicken'd, was help'd by a contribution, died, aged
forty-one years—and that was his funeral.
Thumb extended, finger uplifted, apron, cape, gloves, strap, wet-weather
clothes, whip carefully chosen, boss, spotter, starter, hostler,
somebody loafing on you, you loafing on somebody, headway, man before
and man behind, good day's work, bad day's work, pet stock, mean
stock, first out, last out, turning-in at night;
To think that these are so much and so nigh to other drivers—and
he there takes no interest in them!
The markets, the government, the working-man's wages—to think what
account they are through our nights and days!
To think that other working-men will make just as great account of
them—yet we make little or no account!
The vulgar and the refined—what you call sin, and what you call
goodness—to think how wide a difference!
To think the difference will still continue to others, yet we lie beyond
To think how much pleasure there is!
Have you pleasure from looking at the sky? have you pleasure from poems?
Do you enjoy yourself in the city? or engaged in business? or planning a
nomination and election? or with your wife and family?
Or with your mother and sisters? or in womanly housework? or the beautiful
—These also flow onward to others—you and I flow onward,
But in due time, you and I shall take less interest in them.
Your farm, profits, crops,—to think how engross'd you are!
To think there will still be farms, profits, crops—yet for you, of
What will be, will be well—for what is, is well,
To take interest is well, and not to take interest shall be well.
The sky continues beautiful,
The pleasure of men with women shall never be sated, nor the pleasure of
women with men, nor the pleasure from poems,
The domestic joys, the daily housework or business, the building of
houses—these are not phantasms—they have weight, form,
Farms, profits, crops, markets, wages, government, are none of them
The difference between sin and goodness is no delusion,
The earth is not an echo—man and his life, and all the things of
his life, are well-consider'd.
You are not thrown to the winds—you gather certainly and safely
Yourself! Yourself! Yourself, forever and ever!
It is not to diffuse you that you were born of your mother and
father—it is to identify you;
It is not that you should be undecided, but that you should be decided;
Something long preparing and formless is arrived and form'd in you,
You are henceforth secure, whatever comes or goes.
The threads that were spun are gather'd, the weft crosses the warp,
the pattern is systematic.
The preparations have every one been justified,
The orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments—the
baton has given the signal.
The guest that was coming—he waited long, for reasons—he
is now housed,
He is one of those who are beautiful and happy—he is one of
those that to look upon and be with is enough.
The law of the past cannot be eluded,
The law of the present and future cannot be eluded,
The law of the living cannot be eluded—it is eternal,
The law of promotion and transformation cannot be eluded,
The law of heroes and good-doers cannot be eluded,
The law of drunkards, informers, mean persons—not one iota thereof
can be eluded.
Slow moving and black lines go ceaselessly over the earth,
Northerner goes carried, and Southerner goes carried, and they on the
Atlantic side, and they on the Pacific, and they between, and all
through the Mississippi country, and all over the earth.
The great masters and kosmos are well as they go—the heroes and
good-doers are well,
The known leaders and inventors, and the rich owners and pious and
distinguish'd, may be well,
But there is more account than that—there is strict account
The interminable hordes of the ignorant and wicked are not nothing,
The barbarians of Africa and Asia are not nothing,
The common people of Europe are not nothing—the American
aborigines are not nothing,
The infected in the immigrant hospital are not nothing—the
murderer or mean person is not nothing,
The perpetual successions of shallow people are not nothing as
The lowest prostitute is not nothing—the mocker of religion
is not nothing as he goes.
Of and in all these things,
I have dream'd that we are not to be changed so much, nor the law
of us changed,
I have dream'd that heroes and good-doers shall be under the present
and past law,
And that murderers, drunkards, liars, shall be under the present
and past law,
For I have dream'd that the law they are under now is enough.
If otherwise, all came but to ashes of dung,
If maggots and rats ended us, then Alarum! for we are betray'd!
Then indeed suspicion of death.
Do you suspect death? If I were to suspect death, I should die
Do you think I could walk pleasantly and well-suited toward
Pleasantly and well-suited I walk,
Whither I walk I cannot define, but I know it is good,
The whole universe indicates that it is good,
The past and the present indicate that it is good.
How beautiful and perfect are the animals!
How perfect the earth, and the minutest thing upon it!
What is called good is perfect, and what is called bad is just
The vegetables and minerals are all perfect, and the imponderable
fluids are perfect;
Slowly and surely they have pass'd on to this, and slowly and surely
they yet pass on.
I swear I think now that everything without exception has an
The trees have, rooted in the ground! the weeds of the sea have!
I swear I think there is nothing but immortality!
That the exquisite scheme is for it, and the nebulous float is
for it, and the cohering is for it;
And all preparation is for it! and identity is for it! and life
and materials are altogether for it!
Something startles me where I thought I was safest,
I withdraw from the still woods I loved,
I will not go now on the pastures to walk,
I will not strip the clothes from my body to meet my lover the sea,
I will not touch my flesh to the earth as to other flesh to renew me.
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?
Where have you disposed of their carcasses?
Those drunkards and gluttons of so many generations?
Where have you drawn off all the foul liquid and meat?
I do not see any of it upon you to-day, or perhaps I am deceiv'd,
I will run a furrow with my plough, I will press my spade through the sod and turn it up underneath,
I am sure I shall expose some of the foul meat.
Behold this compost! behold it well!
Perhaps every mite has once form'd part of a sick person—yet behold!
The grass of spring covers the prairies,
The bean bursts noiselessly through the mould in the garden,
The delicate spear of the onion pierces upward,
The apple-buds cluster together on the apple-branches,
The resurrection of the wheat appears with pale visage out of its graves,
The tinge awakes over the willow-tree and the mulberry-tree,
The he-birds carol mornings and evenings while the she-birds sit on their nests,
The young of poultry break through the hatch'd eggs,
The new-born of animals appear, the calf is dropt from the cow, the colt from the mare,
Out of its little hill faithfully rise the potato's dark green leaves,
Out of its hill rises the yellow maize-stalk, the lilacs bloom in the dooryards,
The summer growth is innocent and disdainful above all those strata of sour dead.
That the winds are really not infectious,
That this is no cheat, this transparent green-wash of the sea which is so amorous after me,
That it is safe to allow it to lick my naked body all over with its tongues,
That it will not endanger me with the fevers that have deposited themselves in it,
That all is clean forever and forever,
That the cool drink from the well tastes so good,
That blackberries are so flavorous and juicy,
That the fruits of the apple-orchard and the orange-orchard, that melons, grapes, peaches, plums, will
none of them poison me,
That when I recline on the grass I do not catch any disease,
Though probably every spear of grass rises out of what was once a catching disease.
Now I am terrified at the Earth, it is that calm and patient,
It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions,
It turns harmless and stainless on its axis, with such endless successions of diseas'd corpses,
It distills such exquisite winds out of such infused fetor,
It renews with such unwitting looks its prodigal, annual, sumptuous crops,
It gives such divine materials to men, and accepts such leavings from them at last.
OF the visages of things—And of piercing through
to the accepted hells beneath;
Of ugliness—To me there is just as much in it as
there is in beauty—And now the ugliness of
human beings is acceptable to me;
Of detected persons—To me, detected persons are
not, in any respect, worse than undetected per-
sons—and are not in any respect worse than I
Of criminals—To me, any judge, or any juror, is
equally criminal—and any reputable person is
also—and the President is also.
OF waters, forests, hills;
Of the earth at large, whispering through medium of
Of vista—Suppose some sight in arriere, through the
formative chaos, presuming the growth, fulness,
life, now attain'd on the journey;
(But I see the road continued, and the journey ever
Of what was once lacking on earth, and in due time
has become supplied—And of what will yet be
Because all I see and know, I believe to have purport
in what will yet be supplied.
OF persons arrived at high positions, ceremonies,
wealth, scholarships, and the like;
To me, all that those persons have arrived at, sinks
away from them, except as it results to their
Bodies and Souls,
So that often to me they appear gaunt and naked;
And often, to me, each one mocks the others, and
mocks himself or herself,
And of each one, the core of life, namely happiness,
is full of the rotten excrement of maggots,
And often, to me, those men and women pass unwit-
tingly the true realities of life, and go toward
And often, to me, they are alive after what custom has
served them, but nothing more,
And often, to me, they are sad, hasty, unwaked son-
nambules, walking the dusk.
OF ownership—As if one fit to own things could not
at pleasure enter upon all, and incorporate
them into himself or herself;
Of Equality—As if it harm'd me, giving others the
same chances and rights as myself—As if it
were not indispensable to my own rights that
others possess the same;
Of Justice—As if Justice could be anything but the
same ample law, expounded by natural judges
As if it might be this thing or that thing, according
As I sit with others, at a great feast, suddenly, while
the music is playing,
To my mind, (whence it comes I know not,) spectral,
in mist, of a wreck at sea,
Of the flower of the marine science of fifty generations,
founder'd off the Northeast coast, and going
down—Of the steamship Arctic going down,
Of the veil'd tableau—Women gather'd together on
deck, pale, heroic, waiting the moment that
draws so close—O the moment!
O the huge sob—A few bubbles—the white foam
spirting up—And then the women gone,
Sinking there, while the passionless wet flows on—
And I now pondering, Are those women indeed
Are Souls drown'd and destroy'd so?
Is only matter triumphant?
OF what I write from myself—As if that were not the
Of Histories—As if such, however complete, were not
less complete than my poems;
As if the shreds, the records of nations, could possibly
be as lasting as my poems;
As if here were not the amount of all nations, and of
all the lives of heroes.
OF obedience, faith, adhesiveness;
As I stand aloof and look, there is to me something
profoundly affecting in large masses of men,
following the lead of those who do not believe
Travel light. Dance with the shadows.