From Song of Myself
I celebrate myself;
And what I assume you shall assume;
For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul;
I lean and loafe at my ease, observing a spear of summer grass.
My tongue, every atom of my blood, formed from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.
Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.
A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is, any more than
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green
Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer, designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may see and
and say, Whose?
Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the
Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic;
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white;
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive
And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.
Tenderly will I use you, curling grass;
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men;
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;
It may be you
are from old people, and from women, and from offspring taken
out of their mothers' laps;
And here you are the mothers' laps.
This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers;
Darker than the colorless beards of old men;
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.
O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing.
I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken soon
What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?
They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death;
And if ever there was, it led forward life, and does not wait at the
And ceas'd the moment life appear'd.
All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses;
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore;
Twenty-eight young men, and all so friendly:
Twenty-eight years of womanly life, and all so lonesome.
She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank;
She hides, handsome and richly drest, aft the blinds of the window.
Which of the young men does she like the best?
Ah, the homeliest of them is beautiful to her.
Where are you off to, lady? for I see you;
You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room.
Dancing and laughing along the beach came the twenty-ninth bather;
The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved them.
The beards of the young men glisten'd with wet, it ran from their
Little streams pass'd all over their bodies.
An unseen hand also pass'd over their bodies;
It descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs.
The young men float on their backs, their white bellies bulge to the
they do not ask who seizes fast to them;
They do not know who puffs and declines with pendant and bending
They do not think whom they souse with spray.
Walt Whitman, a Kosmos, of mighty Manhattan the son,
Turbulent, fleshy and sensual, eating, drinking and breeding;
No sentimentalist, no stander above men and women, or apart from
No more modest than immodest.
Unscrew the locks from the doors!
Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!
Whoever degrades another degrades me;
And whatever is done or said returns at last to me.
Through me the afflatus surging and surging, through me the current
I speak the pass-word primeval, I give the sign of democracy;
By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart
the same terms.
Through me many long dumb voices;
Voices of the interminable generations of slaves;
Voices of the diseas'd and despairing, and of thieves and dwarfs;
Voices of cycles of preparation and accretion,
And of the threads that connect the stars, and of wombs, and of the
And of the rights of them the others are down upon;
Of the deform'd, trivial, flat, foolish, despised,
Fog in the air, beetles rolling balls of dung.
Through me forbidden voices;
Voice of sexes and lusts, voices veil'd, and I remove the veil;
Voices indecent, by me clarified and transfigur'd.
I do not press my fingers across my mouth;
I keep as delicate around the bowels as around the head and heart;
Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.
I believe in the flesh and the appetites;
Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and tag of me
is a miracle.
Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am
The scent of these arm-pits, aroma finer than prayer;
This head more than churches, bibles, and all the creeds.
If I worship one thing more than another, it shall be the spread of
my own body,
or any part of it.
Translucent mould of me, it shall be you!
Shaded ledges and rests, it shall be you!
Firm masculine colter, it shall be you.
Whatever goes to the tilth of me, it shall be you!
You my rich blood! Your milky stream, pale strippings of my life.
Breast that presses against other breasts, it shall be you!
My brain, it shall be your occult convolutions.
Root of wash'd sweet flag! timorous pond-snipe! nest of guarded
it shall be you!
Mix'd tussled hay of head, beard, brawn, it shall be you!
Trickling sap of maple! fibre of manly wheat! it shall be you!
Sun so generous, it shall be you!
Vapors lighting and shading my face, it shall be you!
You sweaty brooks and dews, it shall be you!
Winds whose soft-tickling genitals rub against me, it shall be you!
Broad, muscular fields! branches of live oak! loving lounger in my
it shall be you!
Hands I have taken, face I have kiss'd, mortal I have ever touch'd!
it shall be you.
I dote on myself, there is that lot of me, and all so luscious;
Each moment, and whatever happens, thrills me with joy.
I cannot tell how my ankles bend, nor whence the cause of my faintest
Nor the cause of the friendship I emit, nor the cause of the
friendship I take
That I walk up my stoop! I pause to consider if it really be;
A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics
To behold the day-break!
The little light fades the immense and diaphanous shadows;
The air tastes good to my palate.
Hefts of the moving world, at innocent gambols, silently rising, freshly exuding, Scooting obliquely high and low.
Something I cannot see puts upward libidinous prongs;
Seas of bright juice suffuse heaven.
The earth by the sky staid with, the daily close of their junction;
The heav'd challenge from the east that moment over my head;
The mocking taunt, See then whether you shall be master!