Shuck and Jive

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Meaning of Life, Part 59

Divine am I inside and out,
and I make holy whatever I
touch or am touch’d from,
The scent of these arm-pits aroma finer than prayer,

This head more than churches, bibles, and all the creeds….

I think I could turn and live with the 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,
not to his kind that lived
thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth….

One of that centripetal and centrifugal gang I turn and talk
like a man leaving charges before a journey.

Down-hearted doubters dull and excluded,

Frivolous, sullen, moping, angry, affected, dishearten’d, atheistical,

I know every one of you, I know the sea of torment,
doubt, despair and unbelief.
How the flukes splash!
How they contort rapid as lightning,
with spasms and
spouts of blood!
Be at peace bloody flukes of doubters and sullen mopers,

I take my place among you as much as among any,

The past is the push of you, me, all, precisely the same,

And what is yet untried and afterward is for you, me,
precisely the same.
I do not know what is untried and afterward,
But I know it will in its turn prove sufficient, and cannot

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 that one’s self is,

And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks
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
wheel’d universe,
And I say to any man or woman,
Let your soul stand cool
and composed before a million universes….

Why should I wish to see God better than this day?

I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four,
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.

--Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself" in Leaves of Grass, (New York: Random House, 1993), pp. 66, 75,100-101, 110-111.


  1. We've got to get Walt Whitman and Epicurus at the same table!

  2. Dude had a way with words.

    No doubt....